A reader emailed with questions. This is the final of the three questions I’m responding to. Annette said:
I enjoy reading your money articles and I have learnt a lot from them.
What happens when one partner is smarter about money matters than the other is? And no matter how much I try to teach my partner he doesn't want to make changes to his lifestyle.
For example, last year I managed to save Sh300,000 from my side-hustles and saving. When I told my partner I’m buying a piece of land, he started complaining how he is the only provider in the family. Yet we each have specific bills that we pay and he makes more than me.
Is this too much to ask?
I’ll come right out and say it, Annette: women manage money better than men do.
We may spend more but when we’re charged with the responsibility, we instinctively know how to manage it.
Give a woman Sh10,000 for a 30-day food budget and you’ll have a balanced meal every single day.
Give a man the same and you’ll have a feast for five days, then avocado and bad ugali for the remaining 25 days.
First thing you need to do, Annette, is to do you. You save, you invest and you grow your personal investment portfolio as your income dictates.
Never stifle your ambitions for the sake of your man’s ego.
You go out there and pursue them the best way you know how. Carry on as you would. Don’t wait for him to catch up with you – he’ll pick up his pace and he’ll find you wherever he will, far ahead.
What this translates to, Annette, is he’ll sponge off your good financial management habits. Well, a mature man would. I’m assuming your partner is a mature self-assured man who isn’t threatened by a strong woman. The alpha female. A hungry lioness.
Hey, did you know it’s the lioness who goes out to hunt for the pack? The lion sits on his mane all day, napping and roaring and trying to catch butterflies with his paws. And when the lioness returns with the kill, it’s the lion who eats first. Then the cubs. She who hunts eats last.
So go hunt, Annette. Always be like a hungry lioness.
He’ll sulk at the beginning. As expected. But he doesn’t see yet what you two can chase down to kill when you both go out to hunt.
I also suggest that you include him in your groundwork. That way he feels involved in the decisions you make with your money.
I suppose your partner was slighted because you went ‘behind his back’ and did your thing – with your money – without giving him a heads up.
I imagine a heads up as you guys are getting ready for work in the morning. He’s perched at the foot of the bed pulling on his socks, you’re at the dresser torn between two pairs of earrings.
You go like, “Babe, this Sato we’re going to Kantafu to see some shambas for sale. Me and the girls from chama. Our broker said we can get a quarter for Sh180,000. We want to get two quarters. Please help me with background checks. You’re so good at those things.”
He’ll pause, holding the second sock in his hand, disarmed with this early morning compliment. He says, “Sawa. I’ll call my guy Thaiga.”
He doesn’t call Thaiga, though. He gets carried away with the rest of his day. The free time he had to call Thaiga he spent selecting a football team for Fantasy Premier League, wondering if he should sell his goalkeeper.
Next morning, he’s wearing his socks and you’re at the dresser wondering if that shade of lipstick makes you look like you kissed fire. You casually ask, “What did Thaiga say?”
He’ll clear this throat and sits up straighter. “He said, uhm, he said they’re good. You guys should invest.”
You go over and rub his beard, as if it’s the bottle with the genie. “I needed to hear that from you, babe. Thanks!”
What you won’t tell him, Annette, is that you were investing in the shamba, anyway.
You know he didn’t call Thaiga because you know your man. He’ll never know that you know. But he suspects you know.
Do you see how different that turned out, though? Same result but different routes?
One route has a rubbed beard and inflated ego, the other has a bruised ego but no beard.
We always want to have beards in the mix, Annette. Always.
Lastly, I suggest you guys make personal finance one of those lame but necessary couple goals. Become those annoying couples who frequently do things together.
Attend together a class on personal finance.
Read books on personal finance. Alone then together. When you’ve finished reading your book and left it dog-eared, swap it with his. Exchange notes over date night. Or during pillow talk; some people get turned on by finances.
Subscribe to this column (ahem) and other useful ones on personal finance. WhatsApp him links to articles, videos and websites on personal finance.
Go view shambas and houses for sale, together. Make it fun by turning it into a road trip/weekend getaway/nyama plan/romantic something.
If he’s a chap who likes to turn these things into a group activity, then also invite one of his boys; make sure he comes with his woman.
Budget together for the household expenditure.
Open a savings account together. Then, when he’s transferring cash to it from his mobile banking app, sit next to him, cheek to cheek, and watch him do the transfer. That way you can do it... to-ge-ther.
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