1. The Great Huddle
Find a time to sit down and discuss all financial matters between you and your fiancé. In this huddle session, you are to be transparent regarding your financial status. It’s like presenting your Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) to each other. Here you can have a clear picture of how much each one earns, spends, invest and in some cases what kind of debt you will be marrying into. This meeting is a MUST because it gives you a framework of the life and lifestyle you will be having as a married couple.
2. Seek a Financial Counselor to see how to merge your finances
We are strong believers in seeking help to build a strong foundation of marriage. You may want to attend financial learning seminars like the Family and Finance Seminar. You can opt to sit with a financial adviser to help give you direction and can help build a 5- year plan for your family finances.
3. Set up your first budget as a couple.
You can start putting down both your monthly income in an excel file column (make sure its net of all taxes and benefits such as SSS, Phil health and Pag-ibig). Then you start writing down on another column all your possible expenses: Rent, transportation, food and grocery expenses, communication expenses, utilities and even leisure and entertainment expenses.
When you have written down all your expenses, you can now deduct your monthly income from your expenses to get your monthly net worth. This will give you a clear picture if you are earning enough. It is good if you can have savings at least 20% of whatever you earn. If you are running on the red side, we suggest that you look at your expenses and note which are wants and which are really needs. You can now adjust and make wise decision as to what you will be willing to spend on as a couple.
4. Identify the Family CFO (Chief Finance Officer)
People have always asked us – who should hold the money? Is it the one earning or the who is at home? Should it be male or female? Should the one who earns more have the better say? What is the right formula?
We always find it amusing when couples choose their CFO based on who earns more or based on gender. The truth is, it should be based on who has the talent or gift to manage your family finances. In our family, Monique is the CFO because she has the gift of accounting and managing funds. It is also okay to have the Chief Purchaser of the family because that will be someone who can find the best bargain for the run of your money.
5. Begin saving for your emergency fund.
It is wise to save for rainy days. We want to prepare for things we don’t expect to come such as: health concerns, home repairs, upgrades, work layoff and other unnecessary expenses. You need to be ready to face these situations. So setting aside savings for your emergency fund is a good way to battle unwanted circumstances in your life. A good emergency fund amount to be raised should aim to have a minimum of 6 months’ worth of your income saved. You put this in a separate account and only touch it when it is for emergency use. It is highly recommended that you set up your emergency fund first before investing in other things.
6. Stop Spending on Credit
I know it is so tempting to use credit card for all your transactions. Credit card users must have the discipline to pay off the amount when the bill is due. If you cannot manage to pay on time, then credit cards are not going to be a helpful aid to you. If you are starting off as a family, we recommend to work on an envelope system. Every envelope has a designated amount of money assigned to be used to keep you within budget.
7. Pay Bills on Time
Paying your bills on time sets you free from penalties, inconveniences of having services cut off and running into debt. Have the discipline to know the payment schedule of all your expenses so you can learn how to manage your cash flow.
8. Pay Off Debt Plan
For those who find themselves tangled in debt, we want to encourage you to get out it as soon as you can. Create a pay-off schedule plan and stick to it. Being debt-free means also allowing you to take away stress from your marriage.
9. Plan a Wedding on a Realistic Budget
We know everyone looks forward to their dream wedding. In many cases these weddings are very lavish, luxurious and to a fault impractically expensive. When planning a wedding, know what will matter most to you as a couple. Prioritize on things that will last. Always keep in mind that the wedding is just one day while marriage is a lifetime. So don’t jumpstart your marriage with debts. Be creative, find alternatives and if you really want a supplier to be part of your dream team, be responsible enough to find ways to pay them without hurting your marriage.
10. Live Below Your Means
It’s not how much you earn but how much you spend that spells the difference. We have seen people who have lower income compared to others and enjoy a full life. On the other hand, we know of people who earn so much more and still cannot make ends meet. The secret is seen in how they spend. It’s a good practice to learn how to live below your means. That means you fully understand how far your money can stretch and are fully aware of the priorities of your family’s needs. You live humbly and wisely.
If you want to learn how to be financially healthy, join the Family and Finance Seminar this July 30, 2016. Learn how to EARN, SPEND, SAVE and INVEST the RIGHT WAY.
Read more of John and Monique Ong’s Before I Do articles at www.weddingsatwork.com/category/waw-before-i-do/.
- About John & Monique Ong:
Husband and Wife John and Monique Ong are partners in every sense – from homeschooling their children, running their business Imagine Nation Photography Inc, blogging, and in helping equip soon-to-wed couples and newlyweds for their lives together.