“Hell no!!!” She replied promptly. I had just asked a good friend of mine whether her husband knows her monthly salary and other entitlements. This friend is honest, nice and kind hearted. She is sweet and loved by many but I watched with hidden disbelief when she told me that when it comes to money, certain things are best left unsaid.
I have heard countless sad stories of working class persons; one of whom is my friend Mary (definitely not real name). She got married to a surgeon in 2010 and left the household finance to the man to sort out.
His ability to handle money was as good as Nigeria’s attempt to rescue the Chibok girls. It was abysmal. However, she felt he was making progress at work, he has just specialized in paediatric surgery and seem to be upwardly mobile. He co-owns the hospital he works on the Island. To quote Mary, she said “Dickson, everything is fine. We are doing well. Jide is making a lot of money to take care of his family. They had just returned from a multi destination honeymoon that includes Bora Bora, Maldives and Seychelles. At the time of marriage, Mary was in her 2nd year in school studying Foreign Languages.
Fast forward many years later in the fall of 2015, we were chatting on twitter. I asked about her wellbeing and after we went beyond the cliché “I am fine’’, she began to tell me how they had made downward slides financially. She had just given birth to handsome twin daughters. She graduated in 2012 and after youth service, she got a job with a multi national where her multi lingual skills were needed. She earned an enviable income and made extras from her many foreign trips. She spent her money as quick as she earned them. Jide was saddled with managing the entire household finances and also he sponsored their annual vacations and each of their kids’ school fees is a little shy of a million per session. She didn’t know that her hubby borrowed his equity contribution in the hospital. The hospital was making a lot of money initially but lately, there has been a reduction in income and he was behind schedule in his repayment to the bank. She didn’t know what her hubby was going through to ensure they maintained the high standard they had used to start the marriage. The bottom line is this: THEY NEVER DISCUSSED FINANCE AT ANY POINT IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP TILL THEY GOT MARRIED.
The interest on loan had compounded and the bank threatened to seize the man’s assets and freeze his account to recoup their money. She still earns as much as she did previously. However, in her office, the company would be relocating to Ghana before the 3rd quarter of the year due to rising cost of operations in Nigeria. According to her, The Ghanaian government demands that their indigenes make up a certain percentage of any foreign company’s workforce operating in their country. Consequently, to reduce recurrent expenditure, there is fear of mass lay off in her office before the proposed relocation.
I was silent and sober. I tried to empathize with her but I didn’t know how exactly to ask her why they didn’t talk about finances. Why didn’t they discuss and plan their collective income? Why didn’t Jide carry her along when he was applying for loan from a bank? Why didn’t they develop their financial management skills? Each of them could tell what the other would wear the next day but they didn’t have a clue about the other’s finances. I wanted to show I cared so I avoided asking her hard questions. I didn’t want to appear like a project supervisor; who expects you to know what he hasn’t taught you. I ended the chat on twitter and called her and I stopped by at her office the next day with a bottles of smoothies. We had a long walk. She managed a smile afterwards and gave me a warm hug.
Dear readers, does your partner know about your finances? Do you know your partner’s income? Do you plan collectively? If you answered no to any of the above, why?
Image via Clutch Magazine