Financial damsel in distress


I recently joined a conversation with a group of insta-friends regarding money and relationships. It was a mix of laughter, hard truths and lessons shared among women regarding how we manage our money, and more importantly how we discuss and agree on money with partners.

How soon should the topic of money be raised, when is the right time? Timing is everything and there is a thin line between being perceived a gold digger and fiscally responsible.One lady recalls how horrible she was with handling money while dating her now husband. He was good with money, while she spent everything she had. Fortunately, he patiently and lovingly highlighted her terrible money habits and taught her how to handle money better. She shared how being on the same page regarding finances has helped their family resulting in fewer money fights.

The single ladies agreed that we needed to have the conversation early on to avoid issues down the road, particular when love clouds common sense and we are unable to think clearly. Sometimes love is not enough and while we promise each other “for richer or poorer”, I can not imagine that many relationships can withstand “in the matter between”. One of the major gripes men may have against us is the heavy burden to provide while we spend it all. There is a double standard for women with financial difficulty as opposed to men experiencing the same thing. Although women are the great majority of the working class,some men still feel burdened by providing. It seems there is some truth in the saying “there is no romance without finance.”

When I made the commitment to get my financial act together, I noticed how all my male friends and acquaintances had side hustles as compared to only one lady friend. It seemed as if it was part of their socialisation to make money. “As a man you can’t just have one income, you have to make a plan to make money,” my friend confided as he encouraged me to find a way to earn more in order to get out of debt sooner and use my talents.

I realised then that our socialisation in respect of money as men and women is very different and it is these differences that cause dissent between us. I took a poll on the Facebook page and a large majority voted that transparency regarding finances in a relationship was important. I wish I had probed more, but I do appreciate that not everyone is as open to speaking about this topic as I am. I got to wondering whether people wanted transparency in respect of earnings. Earnings are the beginning of the conversation, but as we all know, it isn’t what a person earns but how they spend and save what they earn that provides more information to the state of their finances.

I received a rather peculiar DM where a man asked me if I dated someone with debt. I burst out laughing because it was refreshing. Though I was raised by a mother who modelled financial diligence and independence, I am not immune to the socialisation of wanting or desiring a man who makes more than me. I work, but I expect my date to pay for dinner( please don’t use a credit card) and hold the door for me. I’m caught between Ms Independent and let the man spoil you.
So to answer his question, I would give great consideration to the amount of debt relative to income as well as the financial beliefs a suitor has as I am not going to partner with someone who doesn’t share my values about money. I am torn between being financial equals and “duela the rra!” There does not really seem to be a lot of pressure to be financially stable and if I were to abandon this tough road I am on, it wouldn’t be met with much scorn and disapproval. One of the things that we as women must hear and take to heart that is unsaid by some men is that we don’t do our part to shoulder the financial weight, which is very heavy. An acquaintance once asked why I worked so hard to make money and get out of debt as “you will get married and your husband will take care of you.” Though he meant well, I couldn’t help but wonder if this mentality has stifled the financial emancipation of women and fed the very horrible notion that a man’s wife is his “first born child.” There are stories everyday of women who stay in relationships because they are unable to care for themselves and their children financially and this breaks my heart.

As I embark on my journey to debt freedom and building wealth for my future fictitious family or for charities, I do not have a lot of people dragging me down. My resolve is often viewed as “go tshosa banna”, but it has been the best decision I have made to date. Financial baggage is something many people battle with, the shame of past financial mistakes or the pretence. I recently advised a friend to gift her future husband with being debt free. Men often stress that they are not as expressive and women like to talk things to death. Though I strongly disagree as I have seen men display a very vast range of emotions before, during and after a sports game, we still need to come together on this.

Men speak up about what you can and can not afford and ladies let us check our bags and give as much as we get. While I am sure men like to be able to pay for their lady, it should not be at the expense of setting goals and financial soundness.
In the words of the #DebtFreeCommunity, being debt free, having emergency savings and acting your wage are the new sexy!! This goes for both men and women.

PS: You don’t have to be a hero, you just have to be what most people aren’t, consistent!
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