I have a client, let’s call her Trudie. When I met her a number of years ago, she was a successful project manager, working for a large bank. She was earning a higher than average salary and owned her own house, in which she even had some equity as she had already paid off a portion of the bond.
Apart from a small bit of credit card debt (she suffers from the normal woman disease where she cannot pass a pair of pretty shoes and expensive handbags!) she did not owe anybody else money.
Enter an old boyfriend and, after pledging his ever-after love, he moved in with her. He soon after lost his job; a habit he repeated at least three times in the time they were together.
So Trudie started supporting him financially, and then his family (mother got sick, did not have money for the operation or medicine; sister needed money to start a business) and finally his addictions (cigarettes, alcohol, drugs).
When he finally left her life, she was in debt to the amount of R200 000. She had maxed out her credit cards and her access bond. And that all because of the man she chose to share her life with.
The consequences of your choices
The problem is that Trudie is not an exception to the rule. I myself cannot claim the ability to only choose appropriate men who will remain employed, provide for their share of living expenses and help me build a healthy balance sheet.
I have come across many women who suffer their men’s inability to work with money – or worse, their men’s ability to make hard-earned money disappear into holes unmentionable.
Part of the problem is that our nurturing nature feels so sorry for them. “Shame, if I do not give him the money now, how is he going to survive?”
Steps you can take
So how do we tackle this?
- Before your money becomes ‘our’ money, check out his money habits very very carefully: Is he a spender or a saver? Does he have a budget? Does he keep to his budget or are his months longer than his money?
- What is his philosophy about ‘stuff’? The bigger, the better, even if he cannot afford it? For example, if he has to choose between a smaller TV for which he can pay cash or a 64” one that he has to go into debt for, which one does he choose?
- Can you talk money with him? Or is he secretive, both about his income and his expenses?
- Do the two of you have the same life goals and how it will affect how you will spend your money? This includes things like children and how many or travelling.
- How would his long-term work goals affect your finances – for example if he wants to ditch a financially secure corporate job to start his own business. Or if he wants to retire early.
We as women have come a long way in becoming independent, and in some instances, seriously wealthy in our own right.
But I am sure that none of the women on the rich lists of either the Sunday Times or Forbes magazine allows the men in their lives to be money drips.