This month marks the second anniversary of this blog – it has been an incredible journey, one I never imagined I would go on. There’s been ups and downs and days when I truly felt I was not reaching anyone, but in those times, I would have a reader reach out – in some cases, just to say hello and I would be reminded of why I started this blog in the first place. One of such moments was a couple of weeks ago when a lady reached out about a certain difficult situation she was experiencing. As I pondered over what she had sent, her story bore a close resemblance to the experience of someone really close to me years ago. Money! As the world braces itself for economc hardships in the coming months, I feel this is a good time to look at our finances and why we as women need to have our own money.
Our reader, whom I will call Sonia, did not write to me for advise – she wanted to highlight her situation in hopes that it would help someone make different and better choices should they find themselves in the same place. Sonia advised that she had a very good job and was on her way to opening her own business. She was very good at making money, but not very good at saving as no one had thought her about investing her money or saving it. She later found herself in a relationship with someone she loved very much and this relationship progressed to marriage. Sonia writes that, while she was preparing for marriage, almost all the females in her family would advise her to put all her money together with her husband’s and the males in her family would covertly discourage her from making more money than her husband – I will explore these problematic advise in future posts. She took onboard all these advise because the society she came from placed her value on being married and at that point, she was excited about her wedding and was not thinking about life after the ceremony. She and her fiancé never discussed money in depth or their expectations of each other when it came to finances. They simply assumed that combining their resources would eliminate any financial burdens.
A few months into the marriage, Sonia noticed that both she and her husband lacked the discipline to manage their finances and he had a very different attitude towards work. When there was money in their account, both would spend on things they wanted and this was the source of many arguements in the marriage. Sonia had also borrowed for certain things they both thought they needed – because his credit score was poor, she had borrowed the money in her name and he did not really care if the payment was made. Sonia finally started thinking about her finances when she fell pregnant – she was worried they would not be able to provide for their child especially with their attitude towards money. This was when she realised that she should have had conversations around money before marriage. Fast forward a few years and it is still the same situation – she is now trying to make responsible financial choices while the other person in the relationship spends irresponsibly. She is not able to work like she used to because of childcare and she feels stuck in her current situation. In hind sight, she would have talked openly about money and how to manage a household – she explained that she would have loved to have her own money as well as a household account for bills and a savings account they could both contribute. For her, she wants to use her experience to get women talking about money and and to have goals when it comes to finances before pursuing longterm relationships.
I totally agree with Sonia’s epiphany – especially the part about our parents not teaching us extensively about money and how it works. Many people, myself included, had to learn the hard way how money works and it took me years to grasp it. Even now, every day is a learning experience because I have goals and I must hold myself accountable in reaching them. It is also important that I communicate clearly what these goals are should I pursue a long term relationship, what my partner’s financial goals are and that we find common grounds on how to achieve these and still make a life for ourselves. The narratives that teaches women especially, to hand over their finances in marriage is dangerous – it is the reason why many women have stayed in abusive relationships only to leave in coffins. Years ago, I had a friend that got into a long term relationship – this woman was hard working and had grand plans for her life. When I met her again, a few years later, she would break down and confide in me how she had no access to any funds. I could tell times were hard for her – her trainers were falling apart and I could see that she was quite malnourished. When she gave up work to stay home and raise children, she no longer had access to the funds in their home – however, I knew that for years, she was the highest earner when her partner did not have a job. She is now thriving and running her own business after she left that relationship.
The goal here is not to tell anyone to leave their relationship, not at all – the goal is to empower people, especially women to have their own money. Sonia mentioned in her message how one of her aunts would find a job sometimes and not be able to go because she did not have money for the bus – as a young woman, she used to think that her aunt was lazy but as she assessed her own situation, she finally saw what her aunt was going through all those years ago. In any relationship, I think both parties should have their own money – life is uncertain and no one should feel stuck in a relationship they are not happy in. This week, a Ghanaian TV presenter was trending because, allegedly, her boyfriend had publicly taken back a high end car he had gifted her for her birthday. While the news was making rounds and people threw in their two cents, she chose to not address any of the rumours. There were many commentators that were ‘worried’ that she did not have a car – however. I was not worried for her – this was a woman who had risen above several adversities and single handedly raised a child whom she sent to some of the best schools in the country. She did not seem to me like a woman who would be de-railed from her life journey by someone taking a car away from her. She had her job, which she is very good at and any man that would publicly take back a gift, is not worth any woman’s time. I am watching that space to see how it all unfolds, but the take away from this story is that she is not stuck – she can always take an Uber if she does not have enough funds for a new car. Perspective!
Money is a touchy subject and one of the number one causes of divorce/separation in most relationships – but it needs to be discussed openly. For people to have their own money is not solely for them to escape abusive relationships, but it can come in handy when a tragedy hits, life throws a curveball or even in retirement. Both men and women need to be open to having their own funds and in the event one part is not working for whatever reason, they should not be cut off from funds for their needs.
Thank you for taking time to read, share and comment – just like Sonia, I would love to hear from you so we can effect the change we need by sharing our experiences.