It is quite pertinent for couples to sit down now and readjust the home budget otherwise there would be a lot of fighting, quarrelling and shouting like the one I witnessed last week between Agnes a neighbour and the husband. The crux of the matter is that Agnes’ husband refuses to eat with one piece of meat and Agnes’ says she can’t do otherwise as the cost of things in the market have gone high and the husband has not thought it wise to increase her allowance for the upkeep of the home since the minimum wage increment and the removal of oil subsidy.
Since the removal of the oil subsidy in Nigeria everyone has been trying to adjust to the high cost of goods and services.
Transporters have increased their fair, labourers have increased their daily allowance, market women have also long increased the prices of their goods when they heard about the minimum wage, schools too have increased their tuition fees and landlords and landladies have also capitalised on the increment. So everyone has to adjust to the economic situation. Of course the homefront will not be left out as the money provided previously has lost his value.
Normally, when a man provides money for the house upkeep, it is left for the woman to plan well with the money in order to sustain the home for the period the money is budgeted for. The woman goes to the market, plans the meal and prepares the food. Sometimes the money runs short before the appropriated time and it is now left for the woman to scale down on the meals or supplement with her money or demand for an extra money from her spouse, which in most cases elicit anger and displeasure from the man who expects the woman to be a good manager and a good economist.
In as much as a woman wants to manage the money, the flautuating market price often militate against her, eating deep into the budget before the expiration date.
Sometimes the number of people in the budget also increases unexpectedly as visitor, family members come to pay a visit, unexpectedly to the house.
In such a case what would you do when you find an unexpected visitor at your doorstep who happens to be a friend or a family member with a traveling bag with the intention of spending a couple of days, weeks or months with you, what do you do? Turn him back? Definitely not! You will welcome him with an open arm and let him or her in. It would be considered rude, unhospitable and un-African because it is not in our culture to turn people away even when a previous notice has not been given as the white man would do. But you wouldn’t blame them sometimes when you consider the intrusion and the inconvenience they have to put you through as a result of bumping into you without adequate notice or preparation.
When this happens sometimes, the burden falls on the woman of the house to accommodate the visitors and make them feel welcome during their stay. But this means an extra mouth to be fed and the house-budget will have to be adjusted.
But what if the economic situation is not too good. Do you suddenly wake up one morning and ask your visitors to leave definitely not. It would be seen as outright wickedness.
Every reasonable housewife would always do their utmost best to provide reasonable meals for her family as well as for the visitors. But some visitors never seem to understand when they are getting less of what they desire from the kitchen. They would attribute the poor meals to tight-feastedness instead of attributing it to the poor allowance provided by the man of the house.
Planning of meals could be quite difficult when little money is available to buy what you desire for a good meal to please one’s family and visitors. She wouldn’t want to reduce the ration of meat even when it is telling on her purse in order to satisfy them. Whereas when she is alone with her spouse or children, she can conveniently eat with a piece of meat or even without any and every member of the family would understand that the budget is going lean and it calls for adjustment. But telling a visitor to eat without a piece of meat! The whole world will hear of it.
Some visitors even have the effontery to demand of you the meal they desire to eat even after serving them the meal available.
It is quite inconveniencing for the woman going back to the kitchen and starting all over again. But the good wife has no choice than to please her visitors especially if they are from the man’s side.
Meal preparation could be very interesting when all that is needed to prepare the meal is available at home and the budget is big enough to accommodate as many mouths as possible. But a situation where a woman is operating on a lean budget and so many mouths are available to be fed, it is not appealing at all. Whatever the quality of meal that comes out of that kitchen is attributed to the woman’s making. She only gets a good commendation from her husband as well as the visitors if they are satisfied with her meals.