The ABC of family finances
By Denis and Thammie Sy
Question: How do you handle finances in marriage?
Thammie: I am not the type who can quickly absorb facts and technical know-how when it comes to finances. I love math, but for some reason, my brain chooses to go somewhere else each time I have to sit and listen or analyze financial data and information. When it comes to money management, I like to keep it simple. That’s what makes it sustainable and not-so-intimidating for me. The simpler, the better.
Having said that, I’d like to share with you some of the most fundamental principles we have applied to our family.
First, let’s talk about the ABCs of how we have chosen to manage our money.
A – Allowance
Early on in our marriage, Dennis and I have decided to set aside allowances for both of us. This means that we’re free to spend this amount anytime, guilt-free. This also means that if there were purchases we wanted that cost more than our allowance, we had to wait and save up for them. The amount allocated is based precisely on that term–allowances. We made sure that these were enough to allow us the freedom to spend without compromising the family’s needs and finances.
B – Budget
As a family, set aside time to develop a budget. If you do not know how much money you need to live off in a month, now would be a good time to start keeping track. After you’ve determined the working budget you need, prioritize. For our family, this is how it looks like, percentage-wise:
10% = church
5% = giving
10% = savings
20% = investments
55% = spending
C – Communication
I mentioned that I am not the “let’s sit down and talk about money” type of person, but it doesn’t mean I should not make an effort. I believe that every giving, saving, investing, and spending decision must be agreed on as a family. This communicates that we respect, value, and honor each other. Regularly, we set aside time to review our values and evaluate whether or not we are putting our money where we say our heart is. We discuss the priorities we have for the season that we are in, and check how we can support those priorities through our budget. Communication is key if we are to be good stewards of our resources.
Okay, there you go…. The ABCs.
Now, Dennis would like to add some DEFs for couples who have loans and credit cards.
D – Decide.
You have two decisions you have to make: One, decide on a budget, and two, determine that you will only spend money that you have.
Having a credit card is not an excuse for you to spend money you don’t have, or you only wish to have or that you are “expecting” to have.
E – Exercise restraint and discipline.
Know your limits and stay within those limits. Honestly, if you don’t think you can, it might be better for you to go back to the old-fashioned system of using cash and only cash. (A debit card is another option).
F – Fully and faithfully pay off your balance and monthly loan.
Rather than thinking it is okay just to pay off the minimum each month, pay off your entire balance as soon as possible. If you can, transfer an amount to that account or write a check to it as soon as possible so you won’t forget.