Thursday June 19 2014

Should you declare your finances to your partner?

Peter Igaga, host of NTV’s Men show, says men

Peter Igaga, host of NTV’s Men show, says men hide their finances from women for safety and security reasons. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA 

Bettina Tumuhaise

What is your general view on disclosing finances?
Personally, I think it is the best way to go if marriages are to stay strong. I don’t think I would find any problem telling my husband how much I earn, and I believe he should reciprocate.

But if a man provides everything for the family, isn’t it justifiable that he does not declare his earnings?
Why wouldn’t I know? What if he dies tomorrow? God forbid! We have children together and maybe dependants, so why wouldn’t you let me know so I see how we can pool resources.
While we need to learn how to be financially independent, it is proper that we pool resources say for income generating projects. In the long-run, it creates transparency and bonds the family.

Some men think that as heads of the home, it is not important for the woman to know about his pay cheque and plan accordingly.
Let me tell you, this would be indication that you do not trust me enough. If you are committed to me, why wouldn’t you tell me?

If I knew someone at his workplace in the human resource department and I was told that he earns more than he told me, that would hurt me a lot.
So, what other things are you keeping away from me? (a quizzing look on her face)

While men have been termed as the “financially secretive” ones, women have also been accused of the same.
Women are emotionally involved in everything. So we end up even declaring the little money we get.
You might even find an ex-boyfriend or acquaintance who would give you some money, but you would tell your partner because you love and trust him. At least 80 per cent of women would declare their finances, except in instances where she earns more.

Do you think transparency comes in handy here?
Most men fear that when you tell a woman how much you earn, she will start budgeting for you. This is a wrong notion.
Of course, we do not want you to sound like you are presenting the annual budget to us. If you take your boys out for drinks, we do not want accountability from you on what type of beer you bought for them or how many kilogrammes of meat you munched all evening.
All we want is for our men to disclose their finances so we can plan together. Is that rocket science, really?

Do you think keeping your finances a secret is bound to cause friction between couples in the long run?
Many marriages have broken up because of this. People are unhappy because of money, even the rich ones. Issues like divorce and separation follow each other in that sequence. I believe all this could have been avoided if there was trust.
You will assume that the woman is nagging you yet in actual sense, she also assumes that you are hiding information from her and spending it on other unimportant issues. What happens in this situation? Definitely bitter fights and eventual splits.

If he does not declare, what would you do?
Hmmm…if he does not, I would let him be. But trust me, I would keep reminding him that it is wrong, on top of declaring my finances.

So, bottom line?
Declare, declare, declare. Period! Why would you hide if you know that this is your life partner?
When you are dating, you have the right to hide this information but two or five children down the road and 10 years later, why would you remain tight-lipped? Unless you have other women that you are spending your money on.
Couples should learn that trust is a virtue and if broken at any one point in a relationship, it is hard to gain.

Peter Igaga
What is your general view on disclosing finances?
I believe that by the time you decide to commit to a relationship and probably get married, you should be at a position of confidence or faith that this is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with and are ready to share. You know that secrets breed mistrust.

So why is it thought that men are “secretive” about declaring their finances to their partners?
There is a catch here. Truth be told, we have seen it happen where relationships go the other way. It is important that one studies their partner. I think there is a portion that should be shared because you have common interests but then, there is also that individual part of you which you need to keep. You never know…I mean this is life, anything can happen... (Laughs cheekily)

Are you trying to justify this?
I think men are being cautious. Let me give you an example... If I am driving at night and put on my head lamps in full beam, it is not because I am scared but because I want to see ahead. So we do not know what may happen tomorrow. Anything can happen so you have got to be a little cautious.

But as the man of the house, a woman would probably love to know about your pay cheque and plan accordingly.
Honestly, by the time a woman comes and asks you why you are spending that money, she probably thinks that the man is spending it on another woman. But this is not usually the case. One of the reasons why it is okay for a man to keep some of his allowances secret is because we are wired to look for so many opportunities to better our lives.
If a man invests and it does not pay off, usually there is the “I told you so” that comes from the women’s side. So a lot of men are scared of that and so you would rather, let me invest and if it works out or not, nobody will know. I don’t need someone to shove it down my throat every morning. She may even spread the gospel to her friends, which is demeaning to the men. Solution? Zip it…

But all this can be avoided through transparency, no?
(Shakes head sideways)…Let me tell you something; the moment you declare, she starts planning for your money… (Laughs) You see, a man is in a very precarious position because he is meant to be the pillar of strength and provider. Now you probably borrowed money from office to cater for the family but madam has no idea about the issues behind the money.

To make life easy, why don’t I simply tell her I earn Shs 500,000 instead of the Shs1m so I have a backup? Let her plan for that, so whatever happens, I am safe. In the event that we are stuck, she will probably understand. Do you know how many men keep their pay slips in the office or even destroy them? You take them home; it is going to be budgeted for.

If she does not declare, what would you do?
I am not actually bothered about it because it saves me from being accountable to her. I believe that the moment you declare, you are in essence opening a can of worms.

Truth be told, women are also not honest when it comes to disclosing their actual finances. So it does not make sense that while they nag us about being open, they do not practice what they preach.

But don’t you think this is bound to cause friction between couples in the long-run?
First of all, I think it is meant to be more on not how much is he earning. That kind of translates into policing. Police a man and you will lose him: it is as simple as that.

As men, we are not good at following rules and that is why when it comes to directions, men do not want to ask. You know some women go through their partners’ wallets so the men opt to leave their money either in the car or at office. Of course the flip side is what happens if someone falls sick in the middle of the night?

If a man declares his salary to you, don’t turn him into a liar by nagging him. And truth be told, if he is to spend money on another woman, he will do it.

So, bottom line?
Declare 75 per cent and keep the 25 per cent to yourself…(Laughs)…It could be your life saver, and your family too.
I always tell ladies, do not push your men because they will become more creative and evasive too.