Don’t let fi­nan­cial stress de­rail your re­la­tion­ships with loved ones

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PERSONAL FINANCE -

Even in the best of times, fi­nan­cial stress can take a toll on your re­la­tion­ships with your loved ones. But while anx­i­ety and fear are com­mon dur­ing times of fi­nan­cial strife, they don’t need to flow over into your re­la­tion­ships as well.

This is the view of psy­chother­a­pist Han­lie Raath who, at the re­cent ac­sis/Per­sonal Fi­nance Fi­nan­cial Plan­ning Club meet­ings for women this month, talked about how to avoid let­ting fi­nan­cial stress af­fect your re­la­tion­ships.

Peo­ple who are re­trenched of­ten feel a sense of shame, cou­pled with a loss of se­cu­rity, sta­bil­ity and sta­tus, Raath says. “The prospect of change can be fright­en­ing. But, just as many peo­ple go on health detoxes to cleanse their bodies, you may find that re­trench­ment is a time for a fi­nan­cial detox – time to take a fresh look at your fi­nances and how you deal with them.”

The re­ces­sion is quickly teach­ing peo­ple to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween what they need and what they want.

“Al­though this may be un­pleas­ant ini­tially, it is ul­ti­mately teach­ing you to be more dis­ci­plined with your fi­nances,” she says.


Raath says she finds that when money is eas­ily avail­able, it tends to “can­dy­coat” is­sues be­tween part­ners in a re­la­tion­ship. In tough times, fi­nan­cial stress comes to the fore and other prob­lems be­come dif­fi­cult to ig­nore.

It is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant that you and your part­ner take an ac­tive in­ter­est in your joint fi­nances.

Raath cited the case of a cou­ple who got mar­ried, al­though the man was not par­tic­u­larly keen to do so. The cou­ple had a baby and reg­u­larly went on ex­pen­sive hol­i­days, main­tain­ing an il­lu­sion of hap­pi­ness. The wife han­dled all the fi­nances. Even­tu­ally, the hus­band dis­cov­ered that she had used up all the credit avail­able on seven credit cards.

“Al­though the wife racked up the debt, the hus­band is equally to blame, be­cause he did not take any in­ter­est in their fi­nances,” Raath says. She says the cou­ple have now cre­ated a sys­tem of joint ac­count­abil­ity with checks and bal­ances, but it will take them many years to pay off the ac­cu­mu­lated debt.

Raath says you should show ap­pre­ci­a­tion of your part­ner, be­cause of­ten the main bread­win­ner feels that he or she is be­ing treated like an ATM.

“Women still of­ten ab­di­cate re­spon­si­bil­ity, while more and more men ex­pect and want women to be in­de­pen­dent,” Raath says.

Some­times you may need pro­fes­sional (psy­cho­log­i­cal or fi­nan­cial) in­put to help re­solve is­sues, but very few mar­riages need to end due to fi­nan­cial prob­lems alone, she says.


Chil­dren may find it hard to deal with fi­nan­cial cut­backs due to a re­ces­sion, par­tic­u­larly if you in­dulged them shame­lessly when times were good.

Raath says par­ents of­ten feel guilty for work­ing long hours and com­pen­sate by buy­ing their chil­dren the lat­est gad­gets and ex­pen­sive toys. Ideally, she says, you should spend more time to­gether as a fam­ily.

Al­though you should not bur­den your chil­dren with the finer de­tails of your fi­nances, you should in­volve them in de­ci­sions and try to get them think­ing about how to save money. They might be will­ing to give up some ex­tra-mu­ral ac­tiv­i­ties, such as drama classes, in or­der to be al­lowed to con­tinue an­other ac­tiv­ity, such as swim­ming.

Think about in­tro­duc­ing sim­ple ac­tiv­i­ties, such as board games, that give your fam­ily the op­por­tu­nity to spend time to­gether without cost be­com­ing a con­cern. This qual­ity time can help strengthen fam­ily bonds at a time when you need it most.

While you need to cut back, there are some ar­eas where you should think twice and weigh up the po­ten­tial sav­ings against the long-term ef­fects on your chil­dren. Raath says: “If you have chil­dren, I would cau­tion against cut­ting back on in­ter­net and DStv ac­cess as your first route – the so­cial stigma to chil­dren of not be­ing hip and not be­ing able to mea­sure up to their peers can­not be un­der­es­ti­mated.”

You should raise your chil­dren to have some fi­nan­cial ac­count­abil­ity so that they learn from an early age how to han­dle money.

Raath says pocket money is a good way to teach chil­dren how to bud­get and that in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion is not al­ways pos­si­ble.

Psy­chother­a­pist Han­lie Raath

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