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Man about town

Shiro and I forced to spill spending secrets

arguing married couple
Illustration of an arguing married couple being pacified by a mediator. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH 

I have been receiving many phone calls from the village— more specifically from my mother who says she needs money to buy hay for her cows since it has been too dry for the animals to pasture. I have tried, on numerous occasions, to persuade her to get rid of her cows but somehow, she never listens to me. She tells me that keeping them keeps her “youthful and relevant” which I simply do not understand.

At the start of the year, we had a rather interesting discussion with Shiro and our financial advisor. We want to buy our own house this year for which we need to place a deposit of Sh4 million. Before our meeting, the financial advisor asked us to separately prepare a spreadsheet of our expenses.

Since I am committed to this process, I tabulated and presented all my expenses. Imagine my shock when during the meeting, our financial guru flashed our respective expenses on the screen.

I told him: “I thought you would not be sharing this with Shiro.”

He laughed and said: “Secrecy about financial matters in marriage is recipe for trouble. You need to be transparent.”

Shiro was giving me a questioning look and to avoid suspicion, I said: “I have nothing to hide, let us do it.”

My spreadsheet was not that detailed, and I had lumped a lot of expenses under “transport and miscellaneous.”

We were getting to the end of my spreadsheet when Shiro spotted the fact that I had included Sh40,000 under the section “mother.” She was surprised and angry. “You mean you give your mother that much money. What does she use it for?,” she posed.

From there, the conversation took a downhill direction. I tried to explain to Shiro that I usually give my mother the money for “farming and general upkeep.”

This did not seem to appease her for she went off on a rant, saying she did not understand why I send my mother so much money for her “emaciated cows.”

She pointed out that we never send her parents any money and that I was giving my mother preferential treatment.

The financial advisor had to step in and to try and calm the situation: “Let us leave this discussion for later, for now let us look at Shiro’s expenses.”

Once we looked at Shiro’s spreadsheet, I understood why she had been throwing a tantrum about my mother’s allowance. She had put Sh100,000 under “miscellaneous”.

The financial advisor jumped in and asked: “Please, can you explain what goes into this figure.”

I could not help but gleefully watch Shiro squirm as she tried to explain what the money was for. Once again, the financial advisor came to the rescue and said: “Here is my suggestion. Both of you should not spend these amounts. You must deposit them into your account until we reach agreement if the spending is really necessary.”

I was not keen to start a fight on this, so I readily agreed to the proposal.

I did not send my mother money last week as expected and this has triggered numerous phone calls which are making my life hell. When I finally got the guts to speak to her, I told her: “Mum, I am going through some financial challenges right now and I will not be able to send the money for a while.”

I was taken aback by her response. She spoke for over half an hour about the fate of her cows and her reputation. She made it seem that my failure to provide the money would render her destitute.

Despite her protestations, I was determined to stand my ground since I also wanted Shiro to tell us about the Sh100,000 she spends on miscellaneous stuff.

My mother was disappointed that I did not budge and from the tone of her voice, I could tell that she was shocked when I said, “maybe it is time you sold those cows.”

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