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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Taking control: The ideal approach for managing financial resources!

The three important factors for the welfare of most people are relationships, money and health.  We seek these, but the challenge is ability to manage them.  Apart from those who professionally study management of finances, we all learn by trial and error.
Money fights are common in families, stay-together couples, and all social institutions including churches. Explore the following with me:
1.    Parenting phase: Very few parents include financial management in their socialization function; even during the early adulthood stage of their children. It is likely that you handled money for the first time when you left home to go to the university. This is a serious socialization gap!
2.    Dating phase: How you get involved in money issues before marriage depends on whether your relationship is a long-term and you are preparing to tie the knot. In such a case, both partners should start planning together and carefully correcting each other when need arise.  Why? Because if for an instance, you overlook extravagant use of money before the marriage, you will not be able to be assertive after the wedding.

3.    Subject of pre-marriage counseling:  The ideal approach is to ensure that this important topic is discussed before you tie the knot. Why? Because you may feel awkward discussing it and yet it is the burning issue to you, your partner and parents from both families.  Financially stable parents do not tip-toe about this; they would offer unrequested advice to their son not to marry in community of property.  While this may be a legitimate concern, the son may not feel comfortable to address the terms of the marriage contract until the last moment.  The subject is therefore better introduced by the marriage counselor as one of the topics to be covered during the sessions.  This way it could be addressed objectively in a safe environment. 

4.    Family phase: The implementation of finance management after marriage is often altered because it is no longer a bargaining point. Nonetheless, the ideal way is to have a budget.  If you are working, transparency is key to ensure that there is a new account for pooling agreed amount for projects like buying a house or car; savings towards education of children, holidays and retirement.  For convenience, the balance in individual accounts could be determined by the list of monthly expenses including personal allowances. The controlled freedom is necessary to allow personal luxuries. Buying gifts for both in-laws should be done jointly. This will maintain balance with regard to ensuring that you both focus in building your relationship and financial stability.

5.    Merging the spending needs: Often this becomes a battle ground when the subject of projects has not been satisfactorily addressed. For an example, personal interests have a lot to do with how much would be saved; and therefore must be established and agreed upon as openly as possible.  Being newly married, you may also not be aware that your husband spends on monthly facial treatment, and you may regard this as unnecessary especially if you do not spending on this item.  To avoid nasty surprises, it is important to reveal your private grooming expenses.  In fact this is what intimacy is about – being completely open about the things that make you happy!

Management of finance in the context of family should be assigned to the skilled partner with clear rules on transparency and accountability.  Remember that poor communication breaks the strongest ties.  Ensure that money issues do not sever the marriage tie nor affect your emotional health! This would be an ideal way of taking control of your finances!