By: JOAN THATIAH
Money is a sensitive issue especially when it comes to loaning it to loved ones. Some say that when you lend a friend money, you should write it off as a bad debt.
If they repay the loan, you’re lucky; if they don’t, you were not expecting it back anyway. However, this is easier said than done, especially if you are talking about large sums.
Loans have been the cause of many a relationship conflict, so many people like to skirt around this issue. But what if the person who needed the loan was your man? Would you lend him money? We posed this question to a cross-section of women in long-term committed relationships.
“I don’t think I would. I do not even expect my man to borrow money from me. I was taught that a man should provide. I don’t remember seeing my father borrowing my mother money. If a man is short of cash then he should seek other avenues to get it,” says Peggy, 29.
It was very clear that money is a touchy topic. When it came to lending money to a man, those women who were against the idea had the most things to say on the subject. Some were socialised this way, while others were drawing from past experiences. For 32-year-old Samira for instance, the thought of lending her man money evokes fear and distrust.
“I can’t. I made that mistake before. I gave a man money I had saved up for years only for him to spend it on other women,” she says.
These women may have a point. Their reasons for their reluctance are valid. However, is this the way to go? Is it possible to have a healthy long-term relationship while maintaining completely separate financial identities?
Financial coach Jacquette Timmons in her book Financial Intimacy thinks not. In marriage, she writes, couples need to build financial intimacy, to merge their finances to some degree. This makes it easier to do things like raise children or own property together. It also improves how you relate with each other.
If your finances are merged in any way, then the subject of borrowing and lending money is almost inevitable. So how does one decide when to lend money to their significant other and when not to? Two married women shared how they go about it.
“The question that you should ask yourself before making any decisions is whether or not your man is financially responsible. Does he have a history of mismanaging money? If so, do not lend him money,” cautions Linnet Ngumo, 31.
Linnet who has been married for a year and a half now draws from past experience. In her previous relationship that lasted six years, she repeatedly lent her man money only for him to put it in projects that never saw the light of day.
“It is like loving an addict. You keep giving money and they keep disappointing you. In the end I became bitter and the relationship failed,” she says.
For 33-year-old Monica, the question ought to be, can he pay it back? If he is not in a position to pay back the money, give it to him rather than loan him. She and her husband have merged some of their finances for family use but they each maintain separate accounts.
“It is the expectation of payback and the disappointment that causes friction. This is a rule that I apply to friends too, if they can’t pay back, I do not lend,” she says.
Then there is the other important factor to consider: what does he need the money for? Is it a need or a luxury? There is likely to be conflict if you lend your man money for something that you believe is a waste. Lending him money for a vacation that you think is a waste of money is a bad idea.
Once you have made the decision to lend your man money, how should you go about it? Are there rules? Should you have a signed contract? How does one make it less awkward?
“Whatever you do, there will always be moments of discomfort when it comes to giving your man a loan,” says Monica.
Friction about money doesn’t come from the act of lending itself but often from the unfulfilled expectations that follow. Because of this when Monica does lend her man money, she makes sure that it is official.
“A relationship operates on a degree of trust so we do not have a written agreement, but I make sure he understands that is a debt and we agree on when I expect payment. If something happens in between and he can’t pay back then we agree on a different payment period.”
SOURCE: DAILY NATION