So your wife has just caught you “in flagrante” with the maid and the excuse of “she just fell on me when I was coming out of the shower” isn’t really striking the chord that you think that it would. Maybe it was your husband that found you with the pool boy. It doesn’t matter. If you are in a long term relationship or marriage, somethings are just too much to take and the next thing you know is that papers are being filed and you are asking for a time that you can see your kids.

It is a horrible fact that breakups do happen and a lot of the time they cannot be blamed on one particular thing like above. Sometimes over the years, people just drift apart. If this is you, it can be a bewildering time and the last thing you may want to think about is your finances, but you cannot put this off. The sooner you delve into this the better.

In most relationships, one of the partners takes the lead in looking after the family money. If you were not that person, you will need to learn quickly what is yours and what isn’t.

Years ago I had a client in this situation. As his partner looked after all the finances for nearly thirty years, he didn’t have any basic grounding in how to do anything from use an ATM to filing his tax returns.

Now this is the point that I am reaching at. You have to educate yourself financially. I have been a big advocate in this column about educating your children about how to run a families finances, but a very large percentage of people act like an ostrich until it is too late and you are in serious kaka.

Even if you are in a loving and supportive relationship or marriage, you have to make sure you understand even the basics of your bank accounts.  The easiest way to do this is to get hold of a monthly bank statement.

Read it and find out what, and when is coming in. Then, look what is going out and to who and if there is anything left over.  If you don’t recognise something, just ask.

Do it nicely though and explain why you are asking. Not all at once with fire and brimstone about how much they are spending on Friday after work drinks. That will get you nowhere.  The main point is explaining that you do not want to be left in the lurch if something happens to your partner.

Just have to reiterate, this is not just for people who are breaking up. If you do not understand your bank accounts, how will you find out that your husband has a mistress and a child that he has put up in an apartment 250 meters from where you live.

Yup, another true story. Also, just got to say to Mrs Mc that our maid isn’t really my type and I honestly do not know the pool boy.

Paul McLardie is a partner at Total Wealth Management. Contact him at