Men, take control.
I have often been asked the question: “who should handle the finances of the family?” Is it the husband or is it the wife? The ‘politically-correct’ answer is ‘it depends’. You will hear many people even so-called experts, say that the handling of the money should be done by the spouse who is better at it.
Our Filipino culture has actually been leaning towards the wife in the handling of the family finances. I grew up in such an arrangement where my late Mom handled the family finances; my late Lola also handled their finances and these two ladies were really good at such.
So what am I writing about? There is a difference between handling the finances and controlling them. I am not trying to espouse chauvinism but my stand is the men should lead the control of the finances. Handling is largely about management, setting budgets, expending, balancing the check book and the like – this can be seen as a tactical directive.
Control on the other hand is more on determining the over-all direction of the finances such as maximization of income, general appropriation and the growth of the family income – a strategic directive. Men should take control of the strategic directive – provision of resources, ensuring an adequate lifestyle and the continuation of said lifestyle for a sustainable period. While tactics can be changed depending on the situation, strategy should not as it determines direction.
With regard to handling, I agree that the spouse who is more effective should take over the handling but control is the role of the man of the house. It is the responsibility of the husband to provide first and foremost. It is his responsibility to ensure the welfare of his family. It is unnerving that our society has devolved in this aspect as many men have relegated this function. What is even worse is that we now have an environment that belittles wives/mothers who do not contribute income to the family. Many women feel a sense of insecurity for not being able to contribute to the family’s coffers; something we should debunk.
Firstly, the contribution of the wife/mother in any family is just as important as that of the husband/father; a co-dependency in the family unit. Secondly, any woman who feels inadequate for not being able to contribute financially is being fed a poisonous lie. Her contribution to her family can’t be measured in any conceivable valuation. In a society embroiled in ‘machismo’, it is utterly dumb-founding that our men behave exactly what they detest. Aren’t we less of a man for not taking control, for relegating our primary obligation?
I was like many men before, demanding that my wife needs to contribute to the family income for us to survive the challenges of life. When the Lord impressed upon me that it is time I take control, I obeyed. My wife has been working for the first 15 or so years of our marriage, substantially contributing to the family income. Yet, I know I am not properly fulfilling my role and I took control. By the Lord’s grace, my family is now living with just my income and yet we do not find ourselves in lack, though we go through challenges. My wife, an awesome money manager continues to handle our finances but the control is now mine. When I took responsibility for my primary role and took control, I learned how not to depend on my wife financially. Since I know that I should not depend on her for income anymore, I learned to depend more on more on Christ, the only real source of everything we will ever need.
This blog is not about men being the only source of income in the family. Every family has a unique situation and in many cases, the wife’s financial contribution is necessary. However, the main point of this blog is for men to take control.
(Randell Tiongson, RFP is an advocate of Life & Personal Finance. With nearly 30 years of experience in the Financial Service Industry – Banking, Mutual Funds, Insurance and Financial Planning, and Management Consultancy – he has become one of today’s most respected personal finance coaches in the country. Check out his website for more financial advice www.randelltiongson.com)