For the longest time, I believed I was good in money management. In my childhood, I had my own coin bank and I’d put in my daily “tirang barya”. I also recall a lot of times where I saved up my commute expenses and just walk so that I could save up money. Then as a young professional I started saving up in a bank with a passbook (feeling super financially independent) and had my first VUL as an investment. I knew I had great skills.
But everything changed when I had my own family. Everything I knew about money management went in the drain. It was totally different. I struggled with saving money, ginagapang ko na ang pambayad sa investment, and what was worst was I was piling up on debt. We were living from paycheck to paycheck.
As a part time teacher, my salary isn’t fixed and I don’t get paid if I dont work. I also had other expenses like my masters, and some existing debts. One important realization I had was that I was no longer managing money as a single adult but as part of a family already. I know it might be a shock to some cause it may seem that its already a given. Parang, “Hello! Hindi ba automatic na alam mo na yan, na may pamilya ka na?” Well, i knew I already had a family but i did not actually recognize i am IN a family of my own when it came to my finances. I was treating my money as my own, my expenses, my wants, my decisions. As a couple we decided to separate our money,which means we also separated our expenses. We weren’t managing our finances as a couple. I realized we couldnt save money cause there was no money to save. Bills were just piling up and sometimes we dont even know who paid what or who should pay what in the household.
That is when we realized we had to look at our finances as a family. So we discussed our current state, clarified our financial goals, and started to take steps as a family. We took baby steps and when I say baby steps I mean a five-peso savings everyday just so we could buy an ironing board. It was a baby step – but still a step. For us that is what matters, we learned to save up on a daily basis and that was our goal — to get into the habit of saving everyday. Now we have a list of what we would save up for, every month, and even for a year. We know its still a long way towards our dream purchases but at least we are doing something everyday to make it happen. Here are some valuable lessons I learned from our experience that might also be helpful for you:
1. Have a clear goal. I had the mistake of just saving up for anything. I would save up just because I wanted to feel that I have a savings. Because it was not clear what I wanted to do with the money it was also so easy for me to just spend it. I would be able to save up a big amount but would just use it in an instant. This was because I did not have a goal, the money had no purpose so any reason that came up was a reason to spend the money saved. When we had a vision of what the money will be for it was easier to put in daily and to resist using it. If you have a clear goal you would also have a clear plan.
2. Start small.We didn’t really have the intention to save big amounts of money immediately. It was impossible given our current financial situation. One thing was clear to us and it was to save. Save enough to help us buy an ironing board. As I said, a small amount is still an amount saved. Regardless of the amount, doing it consistently is the essential learning from this practice. Start small and then build up the amount as it becomes a habit to save daily. Right now, we are saving up for Enzo’s schooling and though its a huge amount we divided it into the months until the next school year and started saving as soon as Enzo started his kindergarten.
3. Make a system. Before, I did not have anything written to monitor our savings. It was all just in my head, so I did not really have a concrete idea of how much I/we were saving. I found it also hassle to always go to the bank and depositing small amounts. What we did was buy a coin bank for bigger amounts, and used our supplements container for our monthly savings. The peso-challenge also proved to be a good system because I had a specific idea of what I was saving up and monitor my progress. We have about 4 containers for our savings and have one also for Enzo.
4. Discipline.Now that you have a system, disciplining oneself is the crucial part. It is crucial that one gets into the practice of putting in before putting out. Which means depositing the day’s amount before spending anything. That way I am assured that I had put in what is needed for the day. I even advance it at times so that I could budget my money properly.
5. Enjoy the moment. Feel the liberation saving up gives us. Practicing the habit of saving consistently gives us the mindset that we have control over our money rather than the other way around. It was also a good feeling whenever our target date was nearing because there was something to look forward. There is also a feeling of fulfillment that you had saved up for something you wanted. Enjoy it and savor the moment. But afterwards, envision your other goals unfolding and it will give you more confidence to save up for other things.
Finances is a consistent and constant battle of any person in any stage of life. As a family, there are changes and adjustments needed to be done to cope up with the difference. The family’s finances should be the family’s business. Everyone needs to take part in setting financial goals and achieving them. We are still in the process but we are satisfied with how things are going and how we are getting into the habit. Do you have other family financial management tips to share? Please please share some with me at the comment section!