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Money mistakes to avoid in marriage

Photo of a couple debating about their finances

After last week’s article where I encouraged spouses to be open with each other about financial matters in the family, I got an angry letter from a lady known as Mary. She said trusting a man with your money is like signing away all your rights, exposing yourself and giving your spouse an upper hand.

She said she once saved money and bought a cow. When her husband saw it, he was so disappointed with her and said that particular investment meant that as he was “dying under the yoke of paying school fees for their children” she was busy ‘stealing’ from him to the extent of raising enough money to buy a cow.

 She had to sell it and give him the money to pay school fees to minimise conflict, but from that day, the man reduced the amount of money he gave her for family upkeep and became rude whenever she asked for more money.

While my advice was on how to invest together and being open with each other so that you move towards the same direction, I did not encourage the above ‘slavery’. If you are open to each other, you discuss about buying the cow before you ambush someone with a new investment.

 It is like your spouse giving you the key to your new home and yet you did not even know it was being built or there was a plan to buy one.

How would you feel in such a house where your input in selection was not sought? Do you call it your house or your husband’s?

The point is, in such partnerships, you must use wisdom in your financial decisions. If you contribute to your friend’s harambee to meet a certain need, you can mention that you were in the fundraiser but you do not have to say how much you gave.

It is the same approach you use to save your money after the monthly obligations are sorted out. If he wants to know exactly how much you save every month or how much you saved after a trip where you got some per diem, then that man is petty.

When saving, women do not do so just ‘for the sake’; they save with a plan in mind. Women being naturally good planners, they can build a thriving business from a rock.

To avoid what Mary went through, a wise woman will still go for an investment openly without making the man feel betrayed. Men have a fragile ego and if they feel their authority is threatened in any way, they will act violently just to put the woman ‘in her place’.

Therefore, women learn how to go around this hurdle. For example, she will tell him that she intends to take a loan for a certain project. Better still, two projects and invite him to help her choose one. That way, he will feel part of the investment and if she has a shortfall, he will gladly top up for her.

If you want to buy a piece of land and you do not have sufficient funds, just have him in the picture. Pay the deposit and he will help you clear the balance without necessarily begging him to do so.


I have met many women who say if they hadn’t used this approach, they would have nothing in terms of investment. One says her husband kept postponing their grand plan of putting up a rural home.

One day, she got money from her chama and topped up with some savings, went to the village and bought all materials needed to start off the project.

While doing this, she made everyone in the neighbourhood know that her husband had commissioned her to do the buying as he was busy.

With this kind of responsibility suddenly put on his shoulders he had no choice but to work harder to ensure the project succeeded.

The fact is, men are part and parcel of our relationships, therefore, we must learn how to deal with them for the benefit of everyone.

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