Money matters in relationships


I SPENT more than 30 years in the financial services sectors spanning banking, fund management, capital markets and insurance.
I am one of very few people in this market who have senior management experience in all four pillars of financial services.
I know how each sector works; interface and the complementarity with each other.
In short, I know the tango (sometimes the waltz) between bank deposits, bank credit, investments, bonds and shares and insurance and how people generally relate to each of them.
Even when now I have left the sector to work as a coach, the (waltz or tango) between people and money continues to be my passion for the simple reason that people fail to save and invest for themselves even when they have everything going for them.
The question is why.
One of the reasons for this is that lack of knowledge about money is historical and cultural.
Many parents, even in 2018, do not discuss money issues with their children. These children grow up to be ignorant adults about money management strategies.
When they get money, there is dysfunction. Schools or the workplace have done nothing to help.
Everything must start with a plan. Whether in a relationship (marriage) or for self or in the business, the question begs: what are we doing and why?
The answer to this question should be the beginning of all wisdom! The reason is that between you and the other party, everything you want done should be written down in that plan.
The plan is the unifier in the relationship (partnership). The guide to you as to what needs to get done, when and by whom.
Ok, money is a tool to help you realise your goals. Then you need to communicate, trust and commit to the goals. The three above plus honesty are the hallmarks that will legitimise your plan.
If parties ignore the plan and use the money elsewhere by default or design, typically the plan will not materialise, and the result is what we often see; blame, resentment and frustration.
When there are children involved, this becomes even more evident. There are many advantages going for you especially when you are younger.
If you truly act in the spirit of a team (husband and wife as a partnership), two heads are better than one; you are bound to make better decisions.
Differing perspectives must be discussed candidly and honestly; encourage each other and leverage off each other’s strengths. Shared responsibilities halve the problems.
There are some people who are embarrassed that your spouse makes more money than you (especially men); that you lack the knowledge or sophistication about how to manage and grow family money (you are not alone).
Also, the loss of control resulting from the transparency of an otherwise confidential area of your life. These factors keep many couples away from the potential benefits of combined incomes and promised prosperity.
To break these barriers the solution is quite simple. Put the cart before the horse and discuss: your ideas.
What would you both want to see in the future that you share? What about your offsprings (even before you have them), preferred lifestyle that you want to maintain; what assets you will build (investments), school fees fund, medical contributions, and yes, retirement contributions.
Have a conversation around these life’s events and how to finance them. Your current jobs, what is already embedded in there, retirement funds, medicals, school fees. What happens when these jobs are gone, what would be the fallback?
These eventualities are life-changing and do happen especially in the long term, so awareness and commitment is vital. It may require a lifestyle adjustment. It also requires creative ideas about resources mobilisation, resources and expenses management, etc.
Communication is an effective tool to encourage and learn from each other as you go along.
As a couple, work to each other’s strengths and get things done according to the plan. Remember, you are a Team.
If wifey is good at money management, let her be in charge. Each must actively participate according to your skills.
Periodically, like a management or board, the Team must review how well you are doing and address any challenges.
This sounds simple, but not enough people who really should be doing it are following through.
Common goal(s) builds trust, gives structure and a sense of purpose to the union. Accountability creates feedback and boundaries within which to take risks.
It makes the couple think creatively at problem-solving and decision-making.
The team can truly look at their combined earnings as an opportunity.
The team equals teamwork equals Give and Take equals Respect.
The author is a Fellow of Zambia Institute of Banking and Financial Services, life coach and blogger.

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