I get emails from time to time from readers asking for advice on their money. Within the limited context of the information they send to me, I try to proffer solutions or at least a way forward.
With the permission of the writers, I have decided to publish a few of the emails (keeping identities confidential of course) with the hope that perhaps my counsel may be beneficial to someone else out there. Here are excerpt of one of such emails I received in 2018.
Hello sir. Thanks for all the information you share on your website. It’s really unique and insightful. I have to ask you one question because, I don’t know what to do again. My husband is a real miser. He doesn’t give me enough money to take care of my baby and buy food in the house. What can I do?
I didn’t see this side of him before, but now, it is making things very difficult. I have a 2 year old daughter and I stay at home to take care of her. I used to work in a bank but I was retrenched some years now. I was pregnant, so I stayed at home.
My husband works in a bank as well. He gives me the same 100k for the house that he used to give me when we got married and even after I tell him that the money is not enough to buy anything, sometimes he will just give me 5k extra other times nothing.
My daughter is supposed to be in school by now, but because he is saying money is tight, she is still at home. Thank God for my sister who has older ones, my daughter will not have anything to wear.
I can’t remember when last I even bought any new dress for myself or even did my hair nice. Is a woman not supposed to look good for her husband again? Is a husband not supposed to take care of his family? Instead, he is driving to Ijebu Ode every Friday because one of his clients has wedding or burial. I know he has money. I have seen alerts on his phone before.
Please what can I do to make him change his ways?
I’m sorry to hear about your situation. Things are tough for single income homes these days. From the little you’ve shared, I wouldn’t call your husband a miser per say, but I would say that he has other priorities for his money since you mentioned that he spends it on other things.
His family’s welfare, of course, should be his first priority so his actions can be called irresponsible. I will outline my advice for you in three sections.
I had a colleague many years ago who travelled to his hometown almost every weekend because he was building a university hostel. We got paid a healthy bonus at the office and that was what he chose to do with his money. For some reason though, he didn’t tell his wife or family about the project until it was completed. Could this be the case with your husband? Perhaps the constant trips are to ingratiate himself to someone who can help him financially. He may truly be working towards his family’s long term welfare, but he is not carrying you along.
I’m not taking his side on the matter but the first thing you guys need to do is talk about your finances and talking involves listening more. Try to see things from his own side. It might be that he has something bigger planned… or it is possibly that he is truly irresponsible, either way, you will know the truth and you can make decisions based on that.
Budget & Itemize Your List
People have very different attitudes towards money. There are some who feel like they are being cheated when someone asks for a round figure. What might help in your case is to write a list of the items you need to buy and the prices of these items. If the money your husband gives you is inadequate, it will be very clear based on the list. Both of you will also know exactly how much extra you need.
My eyes were opened to how expensive things were when I started buying baby formula twice a week. Perhaps your husband just needs a similar awakening. Ask him to pick up a thing or two from the shops on his way home. He may just come and ask you how you have been managing.
Make an Income for Yourself
You’ve been unemployed for 2 years now? The longer you spend out of work, the harder it’s going to be to pick up your career where you left off. You need to think long and hard about how you are going to make money for yourself. It might be going back to work or starting/joining a business. There are always opportunities around you if you look hard enough.
You may think that my responses don’t go far enough to admonish or criticize your husband but the reality is that at the end of the day, you can only really change yourself. Trying to change other people is like trying to fill a basket with water; you won’t make any progress no matter how long you try.
If he is going to change, he will have to change himself and that will start when he sees things from your perspective. As you try the tips I shared above, keep a positive mind-set and believe that things will change for the better.
If you have questions on personal finance or issues that you need counsel on, send me a mail at [email protected] and I will do my best to help. Anything you send me is confidential and I will not share any information without your consent.