Who has the last say?
Question: My wife and I have been married for just a few months and already my wife and I are arguing about many things, foremost of which is money. Do you have any advice on how newlyweds should run their finances? Asked at “Ask a Friend, Ask Efren” FREE service at www.personalfinance.ph, SMS and Facebook
Answer: You have asked the question that has baffled the union of man and woman since the time humans first walked on the planet. But the question is not unanswerable, unlike the question posed by wives to their husbands of, “Am I fat?” It is only right for you to ask about money management this early in your marriage.
Contrary to what many financial planners say, household finance may be a gender thing. And women seem to be by far superior to men when it comes to money management. Have you not heard of the Filipino saying, “ang mga ina ang ilaw ng tahanan” (mothers are the light that guides the household)? The justification is that, “ang mga ama ang taga pundi ng ilaw” (fathers are there just to bust that light)!
Know this rule and you will have a long and happy union.
Women are gifted with a wealth of knowledge that allows them to proverbially run circles around men. For instance, women tend to own many pairs of shoes. Men question this practice until they realize that women are gifted with the uncanny ability to perceive many shades of one color. So, one shoe style in pink becomes a totally different pair from others that are in light pink, baby pink and fuchsia. Don’t bother arguing. Just let her buy that extra pair.
Before psychiatry even became a thing, women already knew what therapy was. To them, grocery shopping is therapy as it allows them to let lose their motherly instincts in taking care of the family. Do not question their choices of items placed in the grocery cart. Remember that many of those choices are also conditioned by their ability to perceive many shades of one color. What can you brag about as a man?
Women love to go to salons because this is where they unwind and recharge. And aside from therapy for the mind, they also engage in physical therapy like keratin treatment. Don’t complain about the cost because women go through salon therapy only once in a few months. Men need to get their hair cut every two to three weeks. The total cost will be the same. And don’t be too manly; get that “mani-pedi.”
The situation is reversed when it comes to clothes and make-up. Women shop more frequently than men but for items with low tag prices. Aside from staying in vogue, women also want and need to doll up for their men.
Aside perhaps from deodorant and a shaver, men buy personal effects infrequently. This is mainly because it is women who buy whatever else they need. Have you already forgotten about women’s prowess in grocery shopping? And when men do shop, they go for the financially jarring by buying toys for the big boys. The cost of the buying habits of each gender may again ring up to the same total.
Seriously, having the last say is not as important as agreeing on a budget for execution of each partner in the marriage. Budgeting or cash management is the first of the four pillars in personal finance management. Without proper cash management, all the other pillars of debt, risk (perils to life and property) and wealth management will be for naught.
By the way, if you do find the answer to wives’ question of, “Am I fat?” please share. Saying that the line is choppy or feigning a heart attack are all worn-out excuses for not answering.
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