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Busola Idowu: My Money… Our Money

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I visited my friend Marilyn recently and while I was there, she received a package from a popular online vendor. She hurriedly discharged the dispatch rider, removed the packaging and promptly buried the wrapper deep within the garbage bag. Her reason was that she did not want her husband to return home to meet any residue of a new purchase in the house. She had recently harassed and begged him for money to buy some supposed necessaries including money to make her hair, on the pretext that she was very (very) broke. Now, this allegedly insolvent madam was making online purchases running into thousands of Naira.

She reminded me of Isanah, my colleague to whom I had sold a lovely party dress some months before. After paying me, she immediately removed the tag and said she was going to hide the dress underneath the clothes in her cupboard for a while before she decides to wear it. If her husband asks, she would claim to have had it for months prior to its appearance and afterall, by that time, it would be sufficiently reeking of house-odour. Hmmmn…

These might not be strange to a lot of people. Both ladies were intending to outsmart their husbands as to their financial capacities, claiming not to have cash at hand so as to obtain money from their spouses. The philosophy behind this in a spousal relationship is ‘my money is my money while his money is our money’. This simply posits that it is preferable to spend ‘his’ money on just about anything conceivable but then pretend to be broke and refuse to spend ‘her’ own money except on things that benefit her personally. She can, thereafter, choose to spend her own money in his absence as she pleases. Some women take it an extra mile by refusing to buy household items which are for the entire family’s benefit or even worse, decline to buy their baby’s necessaries because they believe such expenditure is solely meant for the husband’s income. Her own money is assigned to personal needs, clothes, make-up, hair and such other stuff.

Women usually have different reasons why they choose to be stingy with their money and even information on how such money is spent. Some of it arise from the patriarchal belief that a man is the head of the home and as such should be responsible for buying the essentials not just for his wife but also the children. The wife is the helpmeet who is only to extend financial help at irregular intervals and at her own discretion. Today’s economy is however not favourably inclined to this system and in a dual-income household, both parties are required to pitch in to ensure the smooth running of the home. Issues arise when one party the husband is not as financially prudent as hoped or is living above their incomes and in a bid to streamline same, the wife may resort to hiding earnings and expenditure so she can have a semblance of financial independence.

As much as it is wise and prudent to have personal and private income as a wife and mother, it is also advisable in the interest of a smooth running marriage to be somewhat open with finances. The idea of hiding from a spouse to make purchases gives the impression of dishonesty. It is important to reach an acceptable compromise which promotes spousal unity as well as financial freedom to expend resources in a liberal and balanced manner.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Rocketclips, Inc.

Busola Abayomi-Adebayo is a lawyer, public servant and occasional writer. she's passionate about information and just about anything newsworthy. Follow her on twitter @busolaidowu'

38 Comments

  1. Nwakaego

    December 23, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    My husband is so oblivious..i can buy whatever and he will not find out…just hide it in the box room…the only room he enters is our bedroom.

    • Nwakaego's husband

      December 23, 2015 at 7:06 pm

      Nwakaego, o kwa ehia e nne me? I have caught you today. Meet me at home. In the box room.

    • Nwakaego

      December 23, 2015 at 10:03 pm

      Nnaa o ka anyi ga si we na emeya o di mma…we be doing our money we are saving he be balling…buying loubie sneaker and when it gets to my turn we are saving…..I done give myself brain..love is no more blind..

  2. blah blah

    December 23, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    And if their husbands do the same, they would cry wolf. I don’t understand the way people see marriage sha. You are trying to outsmart your husband, isn’t the joke on you? Why marry if you cannot be transparent and free?

  3. Eva

    December 23, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    Just saying, Imagine if he was doing the same to you? Buying stuff (maybe for other girls), or even he hid another family somewhere till he can bring em out and say “Oh them….I had them wayyy before you” (okay, maybe am exaggerating). But the point is, hiding stuff from your spouse aint the best way to be a family. My then fiance always said i was “financially irresponsible”. And I’ll just nod and say ” God bless you if I can’t have my shoes”. Now we are married, well he knows what to do when he sees a new shoe, just keep quiet and move on. But I stopped buying other things i want, and just focus on what i need (including a feel-good-shoe, once in a while). I understand its not just me anymore.

  4. Ocean Beauty

    December 23, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    Why spend mine, when I can spend yours.

  5. Quest

    December 23, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Money wahala! My hubby just sent more than wat was agreed btw us to b sent to our inlaws to his mum without my Knowledge and consent. All hell was let loose wen i got to knw and he was all defensive. Dear busola, there will always b money problems in marriages no matter d level of agreement.

    • Laila

      December 23, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      Rubbish. Married for 6yrs and my husband and I have never fought about money. Mostly because we are both fortunate to have a decent amount of it.

      We’ve each got his and hers money, and contribute to an “ours” account based on our household/family needs. Simple. It works.

      People in marriages who fight about money either don’t have enough of it or are not financially on the same page in general.

  6. olanma

    December 23, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    From experience, i can tell you that why women or wives do this, is because it comes from a reasonable suspicion that their husbands are secretly lavishing gifts and money on their bit on the side. The woman or wife retaliates by doing what the damn she wants with her money and let the husband foot all the bills. After all what’s good for the goose, is also good for the gander.

    • Olu

      December 23, 2015 at 8:15 pm

      Stop looking for dumb excuses to justify irresponsible acts!

    • OJ

      December 24, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      what is reasonable suspicion? very lousy excuse….im sure you’ll be more than happy to pass that kind of orientation to ur daughters

  7. uche

    December 23, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Hmmmmmm in truth its dishonest but some women use it as a survival strategy with the kind of men they hv found themselves with.its well

  8. Yosola

    December 23, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    I don’t have a perfect marriage but money was always the topic we agreed on. Ever since we were dating/courting SU style, we spent our money together and opened up completely. For 7 years, I earned a lot more than him but nobody would know. A close friend who knew our jobs and could tell salaries suggested that I should keep a separate account but I said no because I earned more. Fast forward to today, he earns much more than me and we still keep the same account. I do the budget in excel and keep taps on our accounts etc because I am more of a planner but he writes the checks to make sure all bills, tithes, etc, are paid and no outstanding bill, etc. It’s team work and it helps. One more thing, we take pocket $$ every month incase he wants to eat out or I want those shoes we did not budget for. We send money to our parents on both sides, sometimes not equally because their needs differ. It’s not perfect but it works for us.

    • Laila

      December 23, 2015 at 10:03 pm

      Well said. Fighting about money is not the norm – it only occurs when people aren’t honest with each other or when there’s not enough of it (as in necessities).

    • Tamales

      December 24, 2015 at 1:45 am

      Same with us,we have just one account and we never fight about money. Once our bills are paid and we have put extra money in the savings acct,you are free to buy whatever.
      It all comes down to trust and understanding.

    • Beauty

      December 24, 2015 at 7:49 am

      Good for you, glad you emphasized on the key phrase “it works for you”.

    • LarZ

      December 24, 2015 at 9:32 am

      Thanks Yosola. This is what I practis too with my hubby. What people dont seem to understand is once you start seperating your money in that way, it leaved room for secrets that can destroy your marriage. The same space you have to buy shoes and bag on the sly is the same he will have to do someone worse

  9. zsa Zsa

    December 23, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    I too was of the opinion that personal purchases were meant to be hidden, i didn’t like it but it was just one of those silly ideas society/other women put in my head. I couldn’t keep it up for long though as hubby and i are too open about money. Now if i buy anything for myself i also get something for him, it could be my money or his money it doesn’t matter. I manage all the finances anyway and hubby checks in with me before making any major expense, it only makes sense that i do the same.

    • terrany

      December 24, 2015 at 1:25 am

      Same with me too. I control all the money coming into the family. I see it as wickedness to spend money without his notice while he won’t do same to me. And he makes times 2 of what I make.

  10. Olanma

    December 23, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    @ Olu, I’m not looking for dumb excuses. What is dumb and irresponsible is when your partner lavishes ‘family funds’ on the slut, yet you expect her not to spend her money as she pleases? you’re off your rocker mate!!!!! life happens. If you’ve been dealt a raw deal, experiences will push you to the wall.

  11. Mute

    December 23, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    Absolutely true.. But depends on the understanding of both partners and the type of relationship they have established. Works out for a relationship where the partners are friends.
    berrysmotivation.blogspot.com.ng/?m=1

  12. Mabel

    December 23, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    Men just don’t get it. A man will be amazed that a woman has 50 pairs of shoes while he only has 5 pairs. He never thinks that the needs are different and you need shoes to coordinate with clothes. They never think of the changes in fashion every season for women, a suit will always be a suit for a man, a polo shirt a polo shirt, a buttoned long sleeve shirt has not changed since the 19th century; women’s fashion is constantly changing and the fashionable woman will need to keep up. The very same thing he complains about is what he loves to see in the fashionable woman on the street. Money needs to be spent for a woman to look good and her looking good raises her man’s profile as well, his friends say, “wow, your wife is always looking so good” you feel good about the compliments, but resent her paying the money to keep your profile high..whatevs.

    No, I do not believe in neglecting your household responsibilities to play miser with your money, being miserly is different from saving. Nice clothes ain’t cheap, neither hairdos he has to know some money will need to come out of his pocket for the fashionable upkeep of his wife and daughter(s), if he is blessed to have all girls…lol. Some men want you walking around in a burlap bag and putting cardboard in your shoes because the sole is worn, but will happily give attention to the well dressed stranger on the street. Pay up bitch, being a knockout ain’t cheap!

    • you don't know nating!

      December 24, 2015 at 3:06 am

      IMO, your comment is senseless and vain! Who told you mens fashion is not constantly changing? Please comment like you have sense. If you think changing wardrobe and keeping up with the latest fashion is looking good, then you are high. There are women, mothers, wives and workers, who have not stepped in a stall,boutique, retail outlet or store in the last 3, 4, 5 years and when they step out, the every day online shoppers cannot compete because they look damn good! Do you know how expensive mens’ anything is? And no, a suit would not always be a suit, it gets worn out, out of fashion and boring! Same with polo shirts abi is your boyfriend/husband wearing the same type of colored short sleeve suits, people wore years ago or is his shoe the type your father wore, years ago? Please don’t talk nonsense. Besides women are always talking about buy, buy, buy, buy to their husbands/boyfriends, please what do you buy for him too?

      I have two sisters, exact opposite of each other, one is all about keeping up with God knows all, from make up, to weaves, to jewelry to shoes and clothes take the trophy. The other one wears her natural hair out, rarely shops(still wearing the clothes she bought from a shopping spree in 2010), barely wears make up and doesn’t follow latest whatever. I can say with all confidence as they both live with me, that anytime we all go out, the latter always and always looks better than her older sister. They are my sister, love them to death, but that’s the truth. The older one with all those ugly weave or weave and the face art she does looks like a cartoon character kind of like the way most of these Nigerian artist look like at events. The younger one gets the most compliment and looks very beautiful. They are both natural beauties though.. Please if you think spending money is the key to looking good, then you’re deceiving yourself! What rubbish is men don’t just get it ?kmt. This is why so many homes are on the ground, because of such vain mentality. No wonder the so called runs has become a bane. Now that forex is non existent and prices are now in outer space, you’ll soon know what men get and don’t get.kmt

    • Mabel

      December 24, 2015 at 4:03 pm

      @you don’t know nating..Ouch..seems like someone is butt hurt. Sorry, not sorry. If you think I comment with your existence and feelings in mind you’re gonna fill a tank up with those tears hahaha. How stupid you look responding to a “senseless and vain” comment. Sitting around on your free wifi getting worked up on the comments of strangers. Like I said before, Pay up bitch, being a knockout ain’t cheap!

  13. Cindy

    December 24, 2015 at 5:55 am

    We had this conversation in my church some weeks ago. I told them what I will be telling you now. When men learn to share house chores, then we will learn to share financial responsibilities. It is not fair? The economy is bad? I don’t care. You can’t eat your cake and have it. We cannot both go out to earn income for the family, and I will come home and still be expected to play wifey role all by myself. Titus 2:3-5 shey we are supposed to be busy at home but God forbid a woman tries to be full housewife, she don be gold digger be that. 1 Tim 5:8 na man suppose dey provide na. You want make I continue? Miss me with that economy is bad shit. Economy was bad then too. If a woman is expected to pay her dues at the financial front, then be ready to pay yours in the home front too and we will all live happily ever after. If not, my money remains my money and yours our money. If I decide to go full feminist mode and preach equality, I will just be short changing women because we will lose at both ends. Ladies, you better keep your money for yourself and if you must share, let it be with your kids. Though I plan not to spend more that biscuit and chocolate money on my kids or anything else at my discretion. I have played my part na. Carrying a whole human around for nine months no be beans, labour pain is not beans, having sleepless nights after they are born is not beans either; and they still won’t be bear my name after all the stress. School fees, holidays, feeding, clothing are Hubby’s responsibility. I will play my part in caring for them but husband na sole sponsor. Yes, kill me. However, properties and assets will be in their names. I cannot tow my mother’s lane, udikwa very dangerous. Back any argument you have with me with the scripture. I’m done.

  14. Tosin

    December 24, 2015 at 7:49 am

    I find it alarming the kinds of ideas women and men have about gender and money. Orisirisi scammers. Every adult person should be able to do their basic finances. I was listening to someone complain about his wife who insulted him (stung to his soul) over money because he’s had a very crappy year financially. Guess what? The wife hasn’t worked in fifteen years, not even buy-and-sell or craft or online. He’s done. I don’t blame him.
    If na for village, pesin fit dey do this helpmeet palaver. Check your Bible, no be agric them Jacob and dem dey do? Not in this kain economy monkey go dey work baboon go dey somewhere dey quote Bible.

  15. LarZ

    December 24, 2015 at 9:35 am

    My dad told me that the dynamics of their rship changed the day my mum listened to her friends and started keeping seperate accounts. That waa the day trust was broken and he stopped telling her specific details about his personal income. Even though he supports her whenever she runa dry, she stopp d becoming his financial partner but became a financial dependent on him.

  16. Single Shalewa, Bitter Bintu!

    December 24, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Different strokes for different folks, marriage isn’t a one size fits all.

    In my case, we’re absolutely on the same financial page. Hubby is a ridiculously generous man, it would be very mean of me to keep something on the side. I know what he earns, he knows mine. I plan for the house – I can’t leave that to him cos he’s a messy and disorganised person, I plan for the month, bills, groceries, events, etc. Then we work towards everything together. If I have to take charge financially, he reimburses me (double sometimes) the moment he gets back on his feet. I don’t go beyond my means, neither does he..

    We’re not where we really want to be financially, but I know things are definitely going to be better in a bit.

    I feel ladies who ‘scam’ their husbands have either been bitten somewhat OR their minds were poisened by their MOTHERS or friends (especially the former).

    It all boils down to trust. The day i start withholding some cash behind my husband is the day i stop trusting him.

    All in all, do whatever works for you.

  17. OJ

    December 24, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    A lot of it also has to do with upbringing…alot of ladies have been brought up to believe that the man must be responsible for everything, and some parents no try at all, pampering their kids into adulthood and still pampering them without allowing them to mature properly and be exposed to the reality of life…they will never really understand what it means to responsible and independent…..my friend planning his wedding has spent alot of money and people keep asking him, what the wife does, she needs to cut him some slack since she is also making money too….for where, from paying the apartment to furnishing, to electronics, wedding expenses etc …..only to get to the house, ordinary cooking utensils, pots and pans were not there in the kitchen….the guy just weak, is he the one that would buy those things again niiii??? why can’t madam take something from her pocket to help out? NO, he should give me money let me go and buy them….see wife oooo!!!

    • Natu

      December 24, 2015 at 7:11 pm

      You are so right it has alot to do with upbringing. Alot of African women are too dependent on men!!! Cut the men some slack!! I feel bad for the men though. No wonder my cousin married a white woman.

  18. OJ

    December 24, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    A lady once told me that her husband thinks she doesnt know how he earns…bearing in mind if she knows, her demands would increase. Someone married you, provided a roof over your head, sent you to school, bought a car for you, basically making life comfortable for you materially and financially, and all u care about is the fact you can increase your demands becos he earns a good salary…and how about if he looses his job tomorrow, you would still expect him to meet ur demands right?? just boils down to a lack of consideration and selfishness

  19. Mz_Daniels

    December 24, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    It is a man’s duty to provide for his family. What kind of 419 are men trying to do. We cook for them, run the home and put up with their attitudes because they are the head of the home but when it comes to spending, they want us to be understanding.

    We should be discussing how much allowance hubby should be giving his wife, you’re talking about spending my money. It’s lack of home training that’s worrying these mordern men.

    Anyway, it’s the way you start with a man that matters. All my boyfriends have given me monthly allowances while taking care of other needs.

    Instead of men to pray for God to bless them ha na korom nonsense ebea.

    Yes I’m an Igbo girl

    • OJ

      December 25, 2015 at 3:30 am

      And thats why you will remain single till cock grows tooth…you and your igbotic mentality

    • Mz_danniels

      December 25, 2015 at 8:18 am

      OJ darling, it’s Christmas already and we’re all in a loving mood. I pray the lord blesses you with so much wealth that you can’t help but be generous and a loving wife and kids that you will just love to pamper. Merry Xmas dear. Btw, how do I send the wedding invitation across to you when I’m getting married as that your Xmas prayer for me won’t stand. That said, I think we all on Bella agree that being single isn’t a disease. Be happy single or married. Some of us know God is our father and he will give us our heart’s desires. For me, it’s a man who spoils me in every way.

      Merry Christmas again.

    • YoungPreacher

      December 30, 2015 at 2:31 pm

      In a subtle way, dating a guy shouldn’t provide you a basis for a/another source of income. Whether you are Igbo or Nigerian… somethings are morally right to do as a woman and some as a man in a home.

      However, relationship such as marriage takes commitment of both parties and we should understand that in reality, you may not be able to do all these things you mentioned, say you were sick, tired or heavily pregnant etc and boyfriends sometimes get broke for different reasons.

      We cannot put a thick line between these responsibilities for men and women in a home, at some point, they will overlap in reality. And will include spending money, running the home, cooking etc. It’s best to maintain an open mind.

      I can guarantee that if cooking alone is your job as you think, you will not always have the strength, and if you do, you will not always get it right…

      My submission.

  20. Hadiza

    December 25, 2015 at 4:11 am

    First thing first , my hubby doesn’t want my ” money” for some funny reasons before we started dating I don’t him as a friend that I can’t spend or give guys my money that I have done it in previous relationships n it never work n they never paid back still date , that being said I earn kinda good too as he does , I buy what ever I liked but I don’t hide , highest if it many I will tell him it’s cheap n on Baggain that’s for me not to feel personal guilty of shopping too much even though I don’t , we still still finding what works for us regards saving n investment n spending but we r but open to each other what we earn

  21. Deep Soul

    December 27, 2015 at 2:51 am

    I never thought I’d ever quarrel with anybody about money till I got married! I’m all for being open and honest but because I was stung a few times when we first got married, I gradually became not so open

    However, I’ll say this -recently, my husband and I jointly made A LOT of money just because I opened up about an opportunity I had. If I had kept it to myself, I would have made 10naira (which would have been a lot) but because I brought him on board, he expanded the opportunity in a way I hadn’t perceived and we made 1000naira. And because it was so much money, it became a massive win. Not for me nor him. But for our FAMILY.

    And then I realised, we are stronger together than we r individually.

  22. YoungPreacher

    December 30, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    It is just right that we are honest to ourselves as a couple, it pays in a lot of ways, it earns trust and encourages commitment and generosity. It is only greed, stinginess that relegate both men and women to levels of dishonesty..

    Let’s be honest to ourselves, and money will never be a cause of problems in marriages. And hopefully in organisations and our society at large.

    My submission.

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