How We Manage Our Finances as a Couple

I received some emails and private messages on Facebook (mostly from Pinays married to Korean husbands) asking about how Andy and I manage our finances and whether I handle money-related tasks or not. Well, first and foremost, I am not a financial guru but I am learning along the way as I take control of my personal finances and our finances as a married couple. In my first year in Korea, of course Andy took the responsibility in managing our household finances since I was still adjusting to my new environment. And I could not even go out without him since I couldn’t express myself well in Korean though I could understand a bit. After few months I was able to handle simple conversations and I succeeded in applying a new bank account without his assistance. Hahaha! Since then, he gave me the responsibility to handle our money, pay bills and collect payments from tenants. Oh yeah, he just wanted to get rid of the stress related to it! LOL🙂

Single or Dual Income?

Ours is  a dual-income household. Andy and I both earn our own money. We might change into a single-income household in the future when we have a baby.🙂

Our Financial System:

Andy and I combine our earnings and consider it as ‘our money’, his money is mine and my money is his. There are other couples out there who prefer to manage their personal income separately and split the expenses 50/50 but the system of combining the income works best for us as it brings us closer to each other every time we discuss our expenses and financial goals. We made several bank accounts to sort out and distribute our income:

Savings: 60-70% of our monthly income goes to our savings and is kept in time-deposit accounts.

Monthly Expenses: We made another account in which we deposit a certain amount allotted for our monthly expenditures- grocery, bills, insurance, etc.  Few years ago, I used to pay the bills by going to the bank every month and pay them one by one. Andy and I had always been so busy with work which resulted to delayed payments of our bills. We would even argue on who should go to the bank to pay. Hahaha!  So we applied for automatic transfer from our account. Now what I do is deposit a budgeted amount before the month ends and check the passbook to put the paid bills on record. Yes, I do keep a monthly record of our expenses. I also find ways to cut our monthly bills that are not fixed (like electricity, gas, phone, water) so we can add the remaining money to our fun fund. Okay I’ll be honest. Andy told me that the amount left (after paying all the bills) will go to my pocket! So I try my best to make the total bill lesser than the allocated amount. This is my other source of moolah. Bwahahaha!🙂

Discretionary Fund (personal money/allowance): Andy and I keep separate bank accounts for our personal expenses. It is our ‘fun fund’ which we use when we go out with friends, when I go shopping, when I send gifts to my family and friends, etc. I have liberty (within my budget) to do and buy everything I want without being questioned and without hurting our savings. We also use this money to treat each other on a date or buy each other little gifts. Sometimes when we go on a date, we play rock scissors paper and whoever loses pays the bill. Though we both bring a credit card (used just in case of emergency) with us, if one wants to buy something that is expensive and more than the amount of our personal money, then permission from the other is needed. We discuss and decide together on that matter.

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Lessons learned over the years…

In marriage, it is very important that you are on the same page as your spouse when it comes to your finances. Effective communication is an essential element in establishing goals and developing a financial plan. Couples must understand that effective communication is not only appropriate but absolutely necessary in managing money. Just like finances in business, finances in marriage must also be talked about and planned. Yes, you have to communicate despite the difficulty. I’m just glad that Andy and I have quite the same attitude towards money.

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“Spend what is left after saving.”– We try to live with this mentality as we think of saving for our future as a very serious and non-negotiable matter. This helps us discipline ourselves to budget the money left  and spend for our needs. We won’t always be young just starting out with promising careers.  I will have to stop working when a baby comes along and the expenses are expected to go up as our family grows. So we have to be mindful of the need to save up from early on and encourage each other towards our shared goals. We’re not getting any younger and therefore we should work hard and save while we have the energy and enthusiasm to do so.

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Live within your means or even below if possible. Living within your means is humbling. It’s simply about  living the life you can afford. One of the causes of conflict in marriage is materialism. The problems arise when husband and wife disagree on the basics of money and spending. Materialism is harmful and detrimental as it may cause spouses to spend money unwisely or get into debt, creating a financial stress in marriage. If you put high value only on money, you become less responsive to your spouse and less focused to the relationship as you tend to seek happiness in luxuries and possessions, not people. You put less time and effort to make your marriage a successful one. Learn to be thankful and contented of what you have and avoid comparing your state of life with the life of other people around you. If you see a photo of your friend on Facebook driving a new car, don’t get a bank loan just to purchase one for yourself out of envy. Know your financial limitations and accept your economic status in life. Well, it is good and healthy to give yourself something as a sort of reward for working hard but it’s never a good idea to spend everything you have to buy luxurious things just to impress others, compete with neighbors or just to gain high social status. This will just give you a stressful and unhappy life as you would always want more and more just to be on the top.

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Lower your expectations and learn to be more appreciative. Lowering your expectations doesn’t mean settling for less, but opening your eyes and embracing reality. When you are in a relationship, it is actually impossible for the other person to always meet your expectations. If your husband is not earning that much and you expect to have a grand and luxurious life after getting married, well I tell you, you’ll end up getting divorce. If you want to spend your money on out-of-the-country trips, buying signature bags and shoes and overpriced cosmetics while your spouse is serious about saving up, then your marriage is in big trouble. Have an honest conversation with your spouse regarding your views on money and how would you want to spend it. Make adjustments, compromises and a clear financial plan.

Let your husband know that you sincerely appreciate and thank him for working hard and bringing home money to give you a comfortable life. He may not be able to give you a mansion and everything you want for now, but at least you don’t live on the streets. You can achieve your dreams and get the things you want if you work with each other as a team and start saving up for that particular goal.

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Money can buy things but not everything. It can’t buy you a happy home, a faithful spouse, peace of mind or lasting joy especially if the most important relationship is neglected. Andy and I have learned and keep learning that God should always be the center of everything even when it comes to our financial relationship. He is our ultimate provider of everything. We may not have tons of cash but He will provide us with riches that money can’t buy.

Oh, I’m sorry for the long post. I enjoyed writing about my thoughts too much that I failed to notice that it’s too long already. I better stop here and prepare dinner. Andy is coming and I haven’t prepared anything yet! I’m gonna make Korean curry rice for the boss! Bye for now everyone! See you around! God bless us all!🙂

Ajumma mode- ON!

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