Personal Finance: Lessons My Wife Taught Me

‘The goal in marriage is not to think alike but to think together’- Robert C. Dodds

Before I got married, I could buy tomorrow on credit. As a young banker then, there were many temptations to live large.
I had access to credit facilities by virtue of where I work. Many peddlers of consumables also gave the opportunity of buying on credit- buy now and pay later. Many would collect post-dated cheques and allow you walk away with items of your choice.
I knew quite a few of my contemporaries then whose stories were similar- they wore shirts and suits on credit, took a loan to buy their cars and went for vacation at exotic destinations on credit.
There was immense peer pressure as we all wanted what the other person had even if we had to borrow to have them.
The creditors waited for payday just like us. They all knew we would receive our salary credits by the 25th. By the time each one of them showed up, the salary was finished. We usually joke among ourselves that one could only live large during the week when salary was paid.
After that week, we went back to living from hand to mouth. Most salary earners are poor managers of their finances mostly because they expect that salaries are guaranteed. They hardly have savings set aside and this is why when a job loss occurs, their world come crashing.
Getting married changed my perspective on personal finance and through working together with my wife, I was able to get a better hang of my finances. We’ve been married 18 years and I want to share a few personal finance lessons I imbibed during this period.
1. If rent is more than one month’s salary, then the house is too big for us to live.

Let me explain. We jointly arrived at this resolution when we got married. We wanted to be able to pay for our rent from one month’s salary.
The house I lived in at that time cost an annual rent of N27,000. It was a 2-bedroom flat at Ashi, Ibadan. My monthly salary was N33,000. Consequently, each time rent was due, I paid from my monthly salary.
The only time I have had to save in order to pay my rent was when I just moved to Lagos- and that was once.
I believe it is foolish to have to accumulate months of salaries or income just to be able to afford rent. There is no point renting a duplex and having plastic chairs as furniture- you simply can’t afford it. If it’s not your size, wait till the time when you grow up to it.
Look for an area that is affordable and don’t ‘do pass yourself’.
2. If we cannot pay cash for it, we simply can’t afford it yet.

My wife sat me down when we got married and said, ‘In this house, we will not buy anything on credit’. She knew me. I was impulsive. I wanted the good life NOW.
Each time someone came to my office to sell something to me, I remember my wife’s words (it’s like I hear her voice) and I turn them down. My ‘no’ was feeble initially but it became stronger with time.
No matter how alluring that item is, if we can’t pay cash for it, it means we can’t afford it yet. This is especially for consumables and any item that is non-income generating.
Some will tell you it’s a good deal and so you shouldn’t miss it even if you have to borrow to get it. I tell you it’s a poor deal if you have to borrow to acquire it- except it’s business related and meant to generate income.
3. Little by little, a little becomes a lot

We got married immediately she finished her thesis as an undergraduate. It was after our wedding that she was mobilized for NYSC.
She wasn’t satisfied with earning a corper’s allowance so we put money together and opened a video club in Ibadan. She put together all the food warmers and ceramic plates we were given as presents during our wedding and set up a rental business- along with decorating weddings.
I remember how I carried potted plants and arcs with my car to events and how I used pumps to blow balloons. She later became the administrator at our local church and then administrator at a new school.
Afterwards, she volunteered at a foremost international school in Ibadan (without pay) for almost a year. She actually left a paying job to be a volunteer. She was offered a role as an Assistant Class Teacher and Class Teacher subsequently. She is now a school owner.
She taught me the joy in making steady progress. I learnt from her that every Naira made legitimately counts. She was willing to do anything as long as it supports the home. I saw how she went through the process and learnt that the process is more important than the event.
18 years on, I’m still learning but we are both better now than we were then as we daily make changes as appropriate.

Bayo Adeyinka

Get copies of my books by sending a DM to @Rovingheights. They’ll be delivered directly to your doorsteps.
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