Firstly, congratulations! Finding the right person with whom you truly want to spend the rest of your life with is the start of something new and beautiful.
But before the next chapter of your life begins, you’ll have to grow up and blend into society as a mature individual capable of handling the most basic adult thing ever: MONEY!
Weddings, in all their glamour, can cause some serious financial damage to your bank account. Being a once-in-a-lifetime event, they defy common logic that you should always spend within your means, sometimes making us go a little over the top. If that happens, that’s not the end of the world. But let's learn to mitigate the damage together.
1. Discuss short term goals
A short getaway? Maybe a staycation. Or maybe just a dinner at the nice restaurant you've been eyeing. It’s always good to have conversations with each other about the short term goals you would like to achieve, whether as a couple or by yourself.
Although imagining a perfect future growing old with one another is a comforting thought, you should focus on short term goals that act as steps that will bring you there. This way, you and your partner are both clear about what you want to achieve, enabling you to live your wedded life to the fullest.
2. Plan for the roof over your heads in advance
Some of us are eager to get married and move out of our childhood home, but don't jump the gun – be sure to secure a flat before planning and going ahead with your wedding preparations. Although we love spontaneity, it's important to secure a home within your means!
Your house – especially in Singapore – will be one of the most expensive purchases of your life, and it is always good to be prepared. You'll need to know how much everything costs, both individually and in total, so you can plan your finances properly.
Here are some costs to consider:
- Down payment for the apartment
- Expected strain on monthly finances from instalments
- Renovation of house
- New furniture
- Moving costs
And once you own your own house, you'll need to better protect the things you own. Check out A HDB owner's guide to insurance for everything you need to know!
3. Get a ton of freebies from wedding expenses with credit cards…
In order to achieve the status of 'married', you must first go through the ceremony. And although some might think that weddings are an outlet to 'earn back the cost', life sometimes throws a spanner into your plans by having guests who don't turn up.
This is where you save as you spend – don't pay for major expenses by cash or cheque. Your credit cards can now be an asset as you can get a ton of rebates from spending those couple of thousands on your wedding.
4. … then clear the payments ASAP.
A huge vice of credit cards, if used irresponsibly, is that they allow you to get credit from banks which could lead you to fall into an "interest trap" that will soon snowball into a giant pile of debt. Pay off your credit card debt ASAP to prevent "forgetting" about owing your bank $500 on a new flatscreen TV.
And yes, that includes paying for your wedding as soon as you possibly can. Get none of the interest and all of the rebate perks of having a credit card!
5. Manage your daily expenses well
Rise up to the occasion of going to the supermarket with a properly planned list of groceries that you NEED. Not WANT. Supermarkets are the ultimate trap for spending on unnecessary snacks like frozen lasagne and 'organic' candy. Skip the junk food and pre-packed meals – they're unhealthier and more costly.
Newlyweds need to save for a rainy day, especially as you get to properly understand each other's spending habits. A jar of peanut butter that costs $2 more might not seem like much, but now you're buying for 2 people, not one – the jar will finish twice as fast, and you'll be back soon to spend another $2 more on another jar of peanut butter.
Extra pro tip: Before heading to the supermarket, plan your purchases in advance. This way you are able to dedicate a portion of your money to groceries, and eliminate the risk of spending on unnecessary items.
If you've reached this point, success! You've decided to attempt to reenact Home Economics lessons and cook. To save even more, try purchasing fresh produce towards closing time, or near sell-by date ( practise some caution and common sense though – if it doesn't look right, it's probably not safe for consumption!).
6. Master fundamental life skills so you don't have to pay for them
Yes, finding the nearest tailor, plumber, or delivery service is the easy way to go, especially with Google available at your fingertips. But the costs of all these services are actually unnecessary expenses that will soon add up before you realise it. For example, plumbers cost between $40-120 per hour for basic servicing and repairs, and meals cost at least $5 per person ..
You could save a lot by preparing simple home cooked meals, sewing your own buttons on, and maybe trying to do your laundry by yourself. Don't know how to do it? YouTube will teach you how.
7. Don't be afraid to ask your parents for help
Although you're now married and have moved out of your childhood home, don't be afraid to ask your parents for help, whether about DIY ways to fix something or #lifehacks to everyday problems. At the end of the day, you're still their little kid and as much as they've nagged at you to grow up and get married, they’ll always be happy to impart their wisdom to you.
Parents are an untapped wealth of knowledge and money saving tips! After all, they've been doing the adult thing far longer than you, and have so much more experience under their belts. And hey, since you turned out fine, you know they knew what they were doing. Pick up some tips on how to set aligned long term goals and how to work towards them – for your own happy retirement. There are useful tools available online that can help you with this too!
8. Set aside an amount from your joint account for luxuries
It would be great to be disciplined enough to resist the temptation of the latest gadgets you read about on the Internet, but most of us lack that mental fortitude. One way to mitigate this is to set aside a set sum every month that you'll be allowed to spend as you wish. The newest restaurant down at Dempsey, or the latest iPhone model coming out in October? You’ll now have to budget for it.
One sign of being joined at the hip with your beau is being joined at the pursestrings. The amount you should set aside as a couple for luxuries should differ from couple to couple, depending on your income. Just be sure to discuss major purchases before making them!
Bonus tip: Set up a liquid fund. Like your mother always told you, you need money for a rainy day. Financial experts say that it is safer to have at least 6 months' worth of living expenses in your bank account, ready for immediate withdrawal. This is to tide you over in case of unfortunate circumstances such as retrenchment or hospitalisation.
9. Mark your debts' due dates on your calendars
In a perfect world, your bills will come at the start of the month together with your pay so you can transfer the funds accordingly and never miss a payment. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world. Know exactly when your bills are due to prevent incurring extra charges.
Additionally, knowing when the bills are coming will allow you to forecast how much to spend for the week, and to prevent you from going broke by the end of the month. If there are just too many bills to manage – electricity, gas, a dozen credit cards – split the responsibilities with your partner! Two heads are always better than one.
10. Think of insurance plans as investments, not expenses
Right now, it may seem like the two of you are ready to take on the world. And we want to enjoy the best years of our lives living together in bliss before thinking about something like insurance.
But as "adult" as it may seem, getting insurance is an investment everybody should have – it's necessary to ensure that our loved ones and things we care about are taken care of. Plus, the older you are when you get a plan, the more expensive it will cost – insurance companies factor in your age when considering your premiums. The younger you are, the lower your premiums will be.
Even in the near future, it may involve more than just the two of you. Planning for a little one? Maybe two? Children might be expensive to raise, but they'll reap more happiness than money can ever buy. Protect the safety and well being of your kids' futures – you owe them that much.
Partners for life
As they always say, two heads are better than one! Now that the both of you are starting this new life journey together, new experiences are waiting to be made – travelling, wild experiences, and maybe even the occasional party. But it is always still important to know how to protect our basic needs in light of all the fun.
Thankfully, with the right advice from the right people, your headaches will be covered. With a variety of insurance plans for all kinds of specific needs that any young couple has, kept up to date to ensure maximum coverage, your marriage will get off on the right foot.
Republished with permission. This article first appeared on The Smart Local on 15 February 2016.