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MONEY TALKS: How to manage your money as a couple

Tuesday May 7 2019

Also, as a wife and woman, you don’t want to get to a place where you don’t know the feeling of going into your pocket and spending money.  PHOTO | FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

Also, as a wife and woman, you don’t want to get to a place where you don’t know the feeling of going into your pocket and spending money. PHOTO | FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

BETT KINYATTI
By BETT KINYATTI
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I’ve been married to GB for a year and a half now.

No, hang on, that’s not quite accurate. We’ve been married much longer.

We’ve been married – officially – since November 2015, a few weeks before our baby was born. I remember I fell pregnant that February. I was living at home and he in his bachelor pad. I visited often. Played wife on the weekends (yeah, yeah, we’ve all been there, done that. Blinded by love and the illusion of blissful matrimony).

And then that March, I discovered we would be parents.

He proposed in April. Came to my home in July. My Ol’Man had only one demand – he said he wanted a marriage certificate before the baby was born.

In September, GB’s people from Murang’a and Nyeri came to my shagz in Kaplong. They came for the Kalenjin equivalent of a ruracio, ours is the koito.

SMALL CHURCH CEREMONY

In mid November, we had a small church ceremony where we signed our marriage certificate. When I say ‘small’, I mean only immediate family and really close pals from our circles.

Our daughter, Muna, was born two weeks later, on November 19, 2015.

Then in February 2018, we had our church wedding. It was more ceremonial than necessary; we did it for me and for our parents. More so for me. I wore heavy makeup and a poofy off-white gown. I cried bucketfuls on the walk down the aisle. I’ve never felt so beautiful and so loved in my life before. Gosh.

Every girl deserves to wear a white gown and have the family patriarch walk her down the aisle.

We didn’t sign any certificates that day. The same pastor who married us in 2015 married us in 2018. The church called it a renewal of vows.

ONLY IF YOU ARE MARRIED

Anyway, I say this because what I’m about to share about managing your money as a couple only applies if you’re married – either traditionally or legally.

Don’t apply this with your girlfriend or boyfriend. They’re not entitled to your earnings, don’t be foolish! You each have your own money, and spend it as you so desire. No need to consult one another about how much will go where, when. You are also under no obligation to disclose how much hits your account at the end of the month.

When you get married and sign the marriage certificate, the laws (laws of the land and of the church) recognise that what’s his is yours, what’s yours is his. You are co-owners. 50-50 partners.  Equal weight in making decisions. (There’s a street law that says her money is hers, and his money is for you both. That law is debatable in this context.)

DANGEROUS PLACE

Also, as a wife and woman – I must mention this – you don’t want to get to a place where you don’t know the feeling of going into your pocket and spending money. Where you depend on your man to cover all expenses, all the time. You know what I mean? It’s a very dangerous place to get as a woman. Be wary of it.

Men, don’t make your women too dependent on you. Don’t rob her of the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of her labour. Don’t disempower her by taking away her financial independence. Spoiling her could turn her into a dodo. She’s a smart woman. Sometimes you can tell her no, you can tell her to buy her own shoes with her own money.

Anyway, after months and months of squabbling over money and responsibilities and who should pay for what when, GB and I finally found a simple money management system that works for us both.

Here’s how it works:

HIS MONEY

GB sends me X amount at the beginning of every month, after his salary checks in.

This is an amount we both agreed to. It’s based on the standard expenses to run the house every month. Most of these expenses are fixed, some I can wiggle around.

This amount takes care of rent, water, electricity, Zuku home Internet, money market account investment funds and supermarket grocery shopping. (I began to shop at a wholesale outlet with a goal to save money on this grocery shopping.)

I should have nothing – or little – left after settling all these expenses.

I don’t know how else or what GB spends his money on, that’s none of my business really. As long he’s sent me X amount at the beginning of the month, then his duty to provide has been met.

NONE OF MY BUSINESS

I know he has his own insurance policies running and his own savings (Saccos, money market and whatnot.) But as I said, it’s none of my business. As long as he’s not trading in the black market then I don’t need to know the details.

Of course there are those one off projects which may come up during the month – say home improvement like furniture or a new rug, Muna wants a bike or new shoes, one of our parents fall ill, or we’d to upgrade for our folks’ home...

For some of these expenses, we budget for them together and decide how we’ll take care of them. Sometimes he covers them alone, sometimes I cover them alone. It all depends. Nothing is fixed in stone here.

His money also takes care of family holidays. Although I suggested to him that we should have a kitty for them, that way we can budget for them and save together.

MY MONEY

My salary takes care of Nanny Viv’s salary, butchery, and weekly fruits and vegetables shopping.

Then I have my own personal expenses, for example sending money home, wardrobe and self-care, operating expenses for my online brand, Craft IT, my personal bank and Sacco savings, and other expenses that I need to survive. Including needs for Muna.

The money that comes from my side-hustles finances our joint capital investments.

I also have my own insurance policies running – my pension policy, two education policies and life policy. I take care of the premiums from my salary.

I don’t have a secret stash of cash somewhere for a rainy day.

OUR MONEY

We have two joint savings and investment accounts.

We have a savings account for Muna’s school fees. She just started school in January. This is her second term. I send a fixed amount every quarter to this account. GB tops up to pay the school fees.

Then we have our joint savings and investment account with our money market fund We initially had a savings account with the bank but it wasn’t working for us – I couldn’t manage it as efficiently as I do with this MMF account. What’s more, we earn relatively handsome interest on the account.

The MMF is in my name.

All what we make from our joint investment projects is reinvested into the MMF account.

***

Do you have questions for the writer? E-mail: [email protected]

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