“Please how are you guys coping?” has been a common question amongst close friends since Nigeria went into recession. While a lot has been said about why money causes so much friction in marriage, embracing frugality, and fixing your finances in 2017, couples can achieve more working as a team.
Here are 5 moves that can make a difference in family finances:
1. Learn about money. Pursue financial education together. This isn’t about going to a classroom, it’s about learning. How much do you know about the mindsets and money habits of the wealthy? Do you have any idea what rich couples know that others don’t? What do you know about making money and growing it beyond going to work every day and earning a salary at the end of the month? Get investment savvy. Nobody ever attains financial freedom on just salary. Even if your goal is not to be wealthy, get books to read, ask questions of finance experts you have access to, and learn together. Wealth starts in the mind.
2. Reduce your spending. Contrary to what many think, financially savvy couples don’t spend money just anyhow. They budget, they know where their money goes, and they live within their means. Spending more than you earn is a surefire way to sabotage your financial progress. Whatever you can cut, cut. Wherever a discount is available, grab it without shame. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can pay less than you currently do for recurring bills. Agree with each other on what you can reduce or eliminate from your lifestyle. Cut, cut, cut.
3. Save and invest. Decide between yourselves that you will pay yourselves first. Before your money goes to the landlord, the children’s school, DSTV, the mobile networks, and all the other places, make sure you set something aside as savings. In fact, automate it such that every month the money leaves your account to a designated account without you doing anything. Make sure the money goes to an investment account where it can work for you, instead of just sitting in a regular savings account. This is one reason why educating yourselves on investment is key: earning money and saving it is not enough.
4. Find a side hustle. The benefits of having a side hustle cannot be overemphasized. Two heads are better than one, so brainstorm together and come up with a side hustle that one or both of you can start, to earn more income that you can use to get out of debt, or to invest. Sometimes your side hustle is related to the field you’re already in, but be open to other ideas as well. What’s in demand that you can buy and then rent out for a fee? Sometimes the best business ideas come when you see a need and start thinking of ways to meet it, or recognizing a talent you have and coming up with a plan to monetize it.
5. Sell something. Is there something in good condition that you can put up for sale? You can simply send a broadcast on WhatsApp/BBM, “advertise” on social media, or you can use OLX. Selling something you no longer need is a good way to find extra cash which can then be used to pay off debt, or to invest in your side hustle, mutual funds, or even to buy shares.