They are of the strong view that this would help solve most family problems and prevent many family breakups and divorces, according to a report in Al-Eqtisadiah business daily. Bashit Al-Matrafi, a family counselor, said spending well is a major challenge confronting every family. “This problem is further complicated as the needs and requirements of the family increase, resulting in growing pressure,” he said. According to Al-Matrafi, the major feature of contemporary family life include women going out to work and earning their own income. Growing family requirements include buying a bigger property, such as a villa. “The family has to find money to buy furniture, furnish the house and buy electrical appliances and electronic goods, including televisions, refrigerators, mobile phones and computers. They also have to set aside money to meet expenses for hiring housemaids and drivers,” he said. “At this stage, wives may seek a major role in running household affairs as well as decision-making.” He said finding the money to meet all these expenses and fixing their priority would most often create problems in the family. He also drew attention to other problems. In some cases, a working wife may not spend even a single riyal in order to meet the family’s general expenses, preferring to use her salary to buy things for herself or save it. On the other hand, some husbands are not ready to accept money from their wives, thinking it hurts their status as a breadwinner.
Al-Matrafi says that there should be proper understanding and mutual consultation among couples with regard to prudent spending to avoid any problems or crises. They should work out a family budget on a priority basis, ensuring there is enough money for food and other essential items, health care, schooling, house renovations, buying vehicles and so forth. They should explore the prospect of saving money by enrolling their children in government schools and approaching government hospitals and primary health centers for treatment. They should be highly cautious and vigilant against falling into debt and avoid borrowing money to make life more luxurious. Al-Matrafi also highlighted the significance of setting aside a small portion of monthly income for charity. Prominent Saudi woman writer Hala Al-Qahtani said the main problem facing Arab families is that they do not have a specific plan to maintain a balance between income and expenses. They should plan their spending according to their income on a priority basis, she said. According to Al-Qahtani, some husbands rely fully on their working wives to meet family expenses. “This will often result in family disputes. Also, the parents should find out the prices of essential goods before sending children to grocery stores to buy things,” she said.
“They should strive to maintain a balance between their income and spending by cutting allocations for luxuries. Each family should prepare a list of priorities before spending their income at the beginning of every month,” she suggested. Dr. Anwar Fayez Al-Hammadi, a psychologist, also called for planning family spending in accordance with current living conditions and future requirements and goals. “There should be a sound management of the family budget.
It is essential to have sincere and proper dialogue and discussions among members of the family. It is important to ensure maximum participation and cooperation from each member of the family in maintaining a balance between income and spending,” he said. Saleh Al-Shamri, another expert in family affairs, said the cause for most divorce cases in Saudi society is a lack of planning in family spending and mismanagement of family affairs. “A number of Saudis with limited incomes shoulder big liabilities by giving in to the unnecessary demands of their spouses. They borrow money and eventually fall into a debt traps.”