Monday, 2 August 2010


You have avoided getting married until “you are stable” and nothing including constant reminders by close relatives including your mother that you are “ageing” will get you to start thinking about marriage.
You have a nice car, stay in a respectable neighbourhood in a spacious flat and the girlfriends you have had are left wondering why you are not willing to pop the question.
You have enough reasons
Among them are excuses such as:  “I have not met the right person”, “I am pursuing a post-graduate course” Marriage is difficult”
“Let me have a bit more fun before I finally settle down.”
Your age-mates or colleagues got married years earlier and even though they may not be your average wealthy couple, they no longer pay rent because they have a small structure in a plot they struggled to acquire some years back.
When you meet them, you pity them for all the talk about school fees, visiting days, mechanical problems of their small car or the mortgage they are still financing. Yes, they seem to always talk about committing money, instead of spending it.
So does marriage drain your resources or boost your prospects for a more stable life in future? That is the question we asked those who have been married.
“It is not necessarily that you become a better manager of money after marriage. It depends on how you share responsibilities and whether both of you have an income,” says Nicholas Omondi.
These days, he says, a couple will find it difficult to improve their financial health if only one of them is working or in business. He says sharing responsibilities is key to financial freedom.
“I have seen women whose houses are run solely by the husband and yet they, too, are earning a salary."
Destructive attitude
Saying your salary is not as big as your husband’s is a very destructive attitude,” says Omondi.Omondi says people become mature on many aspects and falls short of suggesting people should delay getting into marriage until they reach a certain age.
“When you are around 35, you are likely to have realised what you want to achieve and you will be more committed to it,” says the mechanical engineer.
But, the father of college-going children says being stable in life does not mean having it all in life. There is also the social aspect.
“If you have spent most of your resources educating your siblings and other relatives and are today driving a modest car, you are better off in this world than the man who has never helped anyone make life better and is zooming around in a state-of- the-art vehicle. You may not be rich in the pocket but you are rich at heart,” he explains philosophically.
For Philomena Nduta, when one gets married, they tend to hang out with more serious friends.
“When you are discussing things with people who have families, you tend to revolve around securing a better future for your family. This is what bachelors lack. Most tend to live for today, never worrying about the future,” she says.
Nduta also says priorities for the married are more geared to the good of all in the family as opposed to a bachelor whose life revolves around an individual.
Interviews conducted by Saturday Magazine revealed that those who are yet to marry  spend most of their resources on consumables while married people tend to spend on fixed assets or social services such as health care and education.
 “A bachelor will spend quite a big chunk of his money entertaining women. So the rational thing to do would be to get married and spend the money on someone who is taking your family lineage forward or someone who can accommodate you without hard feelings in case things go wrong,” says Nduta.
Karumba Ngatia, who is wedding next month says wives care about the security of the family and as a man takes a risk, women secure the risk.
“Women are more concerned about the future and will try to engage in projects that are sustainable. For example, many women will want their husband to buy a plot of land rather than a car even though  a car will make her life that much easier,” says Karumba, a DJ in Nairobi.
Diligence and team-work, however determine whether or not a couple will improve their economic status together, according to Mutua Muthusi, a father of four.
“Coming from a wealthy family does not translate to a better life. It is about how well the couple is focused on a certain objective that they want to achieve together,” says Muthusi.Muthusi believes a married person is more likely to have financial discipline which a bachelor would ordinarily lack.
“We say wealth is God-given but you must work for it. When this duty is undertaken by two people who have the same goal, the task is easier,” he says.
However, Fatmah Sherali cannot even think of marriage right now as she feels it is a sure way of making an already hard life, more miserable.
“To raise a family these days, you have to forego a lot of things. Things have gone up and I would prefer to stay unmarried. Marriage drains people’s financial resources and you rarely enjoy the good things of life after you get married,” says Sherali, 29.
She says the mere thought of the amount of fees that parents of school-going children pay, the monthly rent, fuel or transport every day for everyone in the house, is too much for her to even contemplate.
“Let me manage my money, eat something and save something small without having to suffer to do this,” she says.
When two people plan to settle down together, they should discuss their finances early in the relationship, establishing how they will combine their incomes, settle their bills, eliminate their debts and jointly invest their money, advises Angela Akinyi, a research analyst with Zimele Asset Management.
“How people handle finance at the beginning of marriage has long-term consequences on both spouses,” says Akinyi.
The financial analyst advocates for joint budgets for anyone who wants to reap the benefits of shared living and financial obligations. However, Akinyi insists that it’s crucial for each spouse to retain a certain degree of autonomy over their overall finances. 
Merging finances is easier, she advises, especially when children’s school fees and mortgages come into play.
“Individuals have different attitudes towards money, but within the institution of marriage, such differences could cause havoc if not resolved”, she says.  
For instance, it would be difficult for a saver who is keen on accumulating wealth to put up with a spendthrift who indulges in wasteful pleasures.
The key to creating a successful and healthy financial status within marriage lies in aligning plans, such that a couple only has children once they are ready to bear the financial burden.
Spending also needs to stay in check and there should be a clear understanding or agreement on how bills should be shared out to avoid over-burdening one spouse.

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