Of women’s changing relationships with money

Being financially independent gives you confidence. PHOTO | FILE


  • When it comes to managing money, women are said to be good at both spending and saving

A male friend of mine once told me that there was a big difference between a woman who has money and one who makes money.

I was at first perplexed by the statement, but it all made sense with time. Women enjoy the feeling of having money and the experience of spending it without any pressure or fear of lacking anything.

For women, it’s literally hard to pass by a nice branded handbag or shoes with the self-control of not looking back to think of buying it—even if it was never part of their budget for the day.

Aziza Kiana, an entrepreneur and youth financial influencer on Instagram (through her weekly sessions on financial matters), tells Woman that the battle between women and money is real.

“Most of us ladies have higher expenses than men. We have many things on our want list, especially things to do with our looks, which are unrealistic given our income,” says Aziza.The issue here, according to Aziza, is how one spends their money and from what sources of income they meet such expenses.

She says some women do not have a stable source of income, yet they have unrealistic expenses. According to her, many extravagant women do not earn most of what they spend. “These women lavishly live off other people’s money.”

Since they did not labour to earn the money, it doesn’t hurt to spend it on unnecessary things that do not match their financial position, she says.

“Women are spenders by nature, which is why we go through the hardest transition because we treat our lives the same from when we have money to the point that we are broke. We are not willing to let go of the lavish lifestyle we are addicted to, even at difficult financial times,” adds Aziza.

Sources of income are said to be highly attributable to the way women spend money. Going back to the notion of a money-making woman versus a woman who has money, they say, “easy come, easy go.”

Women’s spending habits have been linked to the feminine experience of being spoiled and taken care of as daughters, girlfriends and wives. Aziza says the spending habit of a woman who is simply given money is quite different from that of one who earns their own money.

She says the worst part is what it takes the former to get the money.

“When I was still studying and living on my parents’ allowance, I used to spend without a care.” But since I started making my own money, I have considered every cent and spent within my budget. It is hard, but I have learnt to track the value of my money at all costs because I am responsible for my finances,” shares Aziza.

Mwaliley Manase, a third-year student at Sokoine University of Agriculture, says she learnt to save money the hard way.

“I learnt this through my mother, for whenever I used to ask her for pocket money, she would not send it to me on time. I had to make savings from whatever money I had, whether earned from my part-time gigs or gotten from my parents or relatives.”

She adds; “It’s really difficult to maintain and keep up my savings to meet my long-term goals as I go wild and spend it all overnight, then start to save again. It’s definitely not easy, especially when you know you have a stable backup plan from parents or a partner,” notes Mwaliley.

Salvina Alto, a resident of Nyegezi in Mwanza, shares how young ladies’ addiction to an expensive lifestyle that they cannot afford has ripped their dignity off. In order to maintain their luxurious lifestyles, some are now subjecting themselves to abhorrent ways.

“It’s hard to go back to living broke once you have tasted the beauty of living the branded lifestyle. Some women fall into debt out of a desire to live an unrealistic lifestyle. Some even have the audacity to sleep around provided their rent and bills get paid at the end of the day.”

She adds; “The strange thing is that it’s not that they’re broke to the point of starvation, but rather undisciplined because they can’t control their cravings.”

For Neema Chamy, a financial coach at Let’s Talk Finance Forum, life did not turn out picture-perfect for her to enjoy the opportunity of being spoilt. Becoming a single mother in her early 20s got her head spinning about how she was going to raise her child all by herself. Thanks to the saving culture that she had cultivated since childhood, Neema managed to sail through. She had invested in UTT Amis, a fund management company that deals with the management of collective investment schemes, which helped her manage throughout the year of motherhood. She shares her journey toward financial independence.

“I got pregnant in my final year of college. Having invested my money in the UTT Amis, it was not easy to reach my long-term financial goals as I had to withdraw my investments within a short time. As a single mother, my savings became a lifesaver. It was a whole new beginning in my financial independence.”

Neema says one of the things that makes women lag behind when it comes to financial independence is that women do not make enough money. Men, who are thought to have more obligations than women despite holding the same employment position, are given priority when it comes to financial advantages.

In the workplace, a man and a woman employed for the same role with the same capabilities and responsibilities are not paid equally. Men are paid more than women.

“Men have one advantage over women when it comes to money; risk-taking. Men will confidently negotiate for higher pay than women. Men will tend to take on business and investment more than women, thereby potentially reaping more rewards than women,” she says.

Neema adds that women’s irresistible cravings for material things are preventing them from achieving financial independence. The pursuit of a lifestyle should correspond to the amount of money one earns, she says. She thinks women should enhance their lifestyles based on what they can afford at the time.

Neema says it’s crucial for women to have their own money, as it will free them from any form of financial abuse. It will help build up dignity and respect.

“Women too have dreams. For instance, I have always dreamt of traveling around the world, so I have been working towards achieving my dream. In this day and age, having a supportive partner is not enough.”

She insists on the need for women to capitalise on their ability to manage money well because women are better savers than men. However, she says women need to go beyond saving and seek financial literacy and invest their savings for better returns.

“It’s no secret that women own most small businesses; it is high time to scale them up and manage them like proper big businesses. The bigger the risk, the higher the profit. It’s about time that women leveled up and believed they could earn as much as men do.”