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Dear Tunde: My Husband is a Miser!

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

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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.

Communication
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.

Tunde is an insurance distribution professional and financial planner. In his spare time, he writes a blog on personal finance (talkingmoney.com.ng) which shares advice, inspiration and tips on how to keep more of the money you earn and do more with the money you spend.

2 Comments

  1. maxxie queen

    March 7, 2019 at 11:59 pm

    It seems you may have to try another way of communicating with your husband over the household expenses. by this i mean spelling everything out on paper. Create a budget and itemize to the smallest detail every requirement. By this I mean
    a. Baby food for one week or monthly as the case may seem
    b. baby clothes
    c. Baby diapers (include size)
    d. food for the rest of the house
    rice (50kg or ??)
    Beef
    Chicken (i mean till Maggi)
    e. clothes for wife
    f. Hair money
    g. make up etc

    The truth was that my dad was a bit similar to what you just described but when we also started giving him our list of requirements each time we needed to return to boarding school, he would quickly give us the funds we needed. the trick was listing things like sanitary towel, pant as the no 1 and no 2 items them text books and handouts. So it made us seem very serious. Hope this works for you too! lol! all the best.

    2
  2. larz

    March 8, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    There are two ways a man sees a woman. PS: bear in mind this is the man’s perception not necessarily the reality.

    Contributor: for some, a woman is only a contributor if she contributes financially EQUALLY to him. Others see their stay at home wives as a contributor when they actively come up with innovative ways of saving (increase earnings, reducing costs) as well as investment opportunities. Again I repeat, a woman can be a great contributor but her husband may not see it because he earns more.
    How do men treat women they see as contributors: well for one, they talk to them. They share their dreams/ plans everything. A man who can tell his wife exactly how much he gets, when he gets a bonus and how much to the penny he got is one that sees her as a contributor. If your husband is starting an exciting investment that took him years to build and he didnt tell for he was trying to “surprise” you then my dear, he doesnt see you as his contributor or financial partner.

    Taker: A taker is someone that is perceived as a non-contributor. What it boils down to is that men dont TRUST women they believe are takers. Some men are raised to believe women are takers and no amount of partnering will make them change their mind. For a lot of traditional older naija men (like my dad), they believe women cant be trusted with money. But what do you expect? My mum is a very lovely woman but she keeps her salary and dad supports the family. On top of that, will ask him for additional money when she runs out. So what did my dad do, he will say, I only have 10k for food, spend as you wish. Sometimes my mum will add more to the money to get what she wants. But if we are being realistic, if 10k is all you have and nothing else, you will manage wont you? As far as I know this created financial distrusts between my parents because they both dont tell each other their earnings and keep separate acct. Dad becuz he thinks mum will increase her spending habit and mum becuz she feels dad will judge her for spending her salary pocket money frivolously.

    So what can you do?
    First you must determine if your spouse is a die hard believer of women being takers. Will any action you take even change his perception of you? If you dont think he will ever change, then you will have to take steps to manage dealing with a man like that. I suggest speaking to women who has successfully lived with men like that. If this was how he has been raised, pay attention to how his mum handles his dad or inlaws handles his brother and if he has a sister, check her out. Women born into these type of family have learnt better than their mum / in laws how to deal with them because they are not married to them.

    If you are lucky and you think his perception can be changed, then you got to work on making him see the contributor in you. Some women make a lot of cost savings for their household but don’t communicate this to their husband or when they do, they undersell how much effort and work it takes. Start helping his manage his hobby / career and come up with ideas to improve his earnings. Start making changes to your household lifestyle to reduce costs. I love going on holidays so much (more so than hubby) but whenever, I sacrifice and tell hubby that we need to hold off on holidays to ease financial pressure or decide to cut down on our social spending, he appreciates it more. I recently made a decision to drive to work instead of taking the train (which is more tiring as I cant sleep when driving and I wake up much earlier to avoid traffic). That’s saves us nearly £200 pcm. GGuess what, I made sure I told him of that decision because guess what dude doesnt check financials as much. In fact, he is more aware of us spending more money than spending less. So do the work and promote the helloutofit!

    Wish you all the best. And sorry for the long as post

    2

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