Yes! You read it right.
Our water bill for this month, in words, is eight thousand three hundred sixty two and 12/100 only.
No, we do not own a laundry shop. I made a quick research, and the average water bill monthly for small laundry shops is Php5,000. The amount is beyond a small laundry shop if ever.
We felt sad though because it was such a waste of water resource. Wasting water is not a joke! There is a water crisis in Cape Town – by April 16 the water supply will be turned off until the rain arrives, leaving residents to line up for water rations at one of 200 points across the city. Read the story here: Day Zero: How Cape Town is running out of water?
Going back to our bill, the culprit for it is a damaged flush. The water kept flowing even after using the flush. When I got the message from my wife about it, it came as a shock. But we took it like any other financial woes with calmness, and a learning lesson.
If this happened to other couples, it would be a long discussion on money that will eventually end up in a fight, and could cause permanent strain in the relationship.
Finances are the leading cause of stress in a relationship, according to a survey of people in a relationship or partnership released by SunTrust Bank. Some 35 percent of all respondents experiencing relationship stress said money was the primary cause of friction.
For me and my wife, money has never been a problem. To be honest, we came into married life with credit card debts individually. Those debts accumulated due to wrong spending decisions in the past. Most especially for me before I became a Christian. I had no hold of my finances because of vices like smoking, drinking, and partying with friends.
My wife and I are 14 months married. And I am happy to say that we have settled all of it at the start of this year. We started investing already. We have savings.
It was not an easy journey but it was all worth it. Here are some money hacks that we have learned along the way.
Have the right mindset.
Think about success and a happy future. Is it dependent with how much money you have? Is it dependent on how much money you are and you should be making? If it is, then you probably have a wrong mindset about money. Thinking about success and a happy life that is dependent about money means money is controlling you.
That mindset will make you and your wife be dependent not just on your bank accounts but to your credit lines too. You splurge into vacation, great restaurants thinking that you are being saved by the credit line only to eventually find out that the debt and interests are piling up already.
I am not saying that you do not have every right to enjoy a happy vacation and great food. You have! But these things can wait. Save first and then enjoy later. There is no sense spending and enjoying for all those things and then fighting about the debt eventually. It also adds stress and worries on how you are to juggle your finances every month to pay for the debt.
Money is only a tool for success and a happy future but it is not dependent on it alone. Control your money and your spending.
Get out of debt.
If you are in debt already because of past mistakes and decisions, it is not too late for you. There is hope! These are steps (D.E.B.T.) outlined in the book Till Debt Do Us Part by Chinkee Tan. This book is a must read for couples. I will only pick some parts in the hope that you get the book and study it. Special thanks to Pastor Emil and Tita Crickette Abello who gave this book as a wedding gift.
Make a decision that you will get out of debt. Getting out of debt is a choice we make through a decision of our will. Say ‘no’ to what you cannot afford. Wait and be patient. Do not allow the spirit of consumerism to tempt and influence you. Read my wife’s article on waiting: Instant or Brewed
Empty all your savings account and liquidate your assets.
It is better to empty all your savings accounts to pay your debts than to keep your savings and earn much less compared to what you would pay in additional interest expense. Liquidate some assets to pay off debts.
Be faithful in paying your debts.
Pay your debts even in small amounts. The issue is not the amount that you are going to pay but your willingness to pay. Do not incur more debts while paying off another debt.
Totally reverse the process.
Get out of debt by underspending. Cut down on some expenses. Drink water instead of juice or sodas (TRAIN law makes it more expensive). Bring lunch boxes instead of eating out, etc.
Live intentionally on a budget.
Budgeting as a concept is so easy but doing it can be difficult. The reason why budget fails is because of the lack of discipline and the laziness to do it.
I am always excited every 15th and 30th of the month because that is when I work on my excel file to allocate our salaries. It has become an exciting moment to discover how much we can pay off for our debts and then eventually how much we are saving already. Let us know if you want a copy of the template.
We have an envelope system. The money we allocate for the usual bills like rent, water (Php500 but obviously not this month), electricity, food (that is why we have lunch boxes), date, etc.
Yes! Our date night is on a budget! We know how much we have to spend. If we want to eat out with fancy food, we spend it all and our next date night will just be at home. If we are invited by people that matter to us and we do not have a budget for it, we spend our date night budget for it because they matter.
What about our individual personal expenses like going out with friends or my wife’s make-up? We have an equal allocated budget allowance every 15th and 30th. This is the only part of the budget that is not being accounted for. It is our guilt-free spending allowance.
The most important discipline that we have developed as a couple and even when we were still single is Tithing.
Tithing is our way to honor God in our finances. We give 10% of what we are receiving every month without doubts and hesitations. Before working out the excel for other allocations, I will already give our tithes online, and then manage what is left. We have given what is right. We know that the money we have is not ours but from God. He owns everything. He own 100% of what we have and so what is 10% of giving back to what he rightfully owns.
Because we do not own what we have, we believe that God gives us the ability to help others too. We put a benevolence fund in our budget. Whenever we hear about friends or other people that they need help, we pray about it and bless it to them. It is not a lot but it could help. We do not have long discussions and not even fight about it because we have a budget for it.
As a couple, we honor our parents by supporting them. We have heard advices from well-intentioned people that because we are starting our own family we should cut-off our family support and that they would understand. For me and my wife, it was a decision to still support them. We are where we are if not because of the sweat and labor that our parents made so we can have the life that we have now. We prayed about it and so we are giving the same amount of support when we were still single.
The more we give to others without counting, the more we lost the control of money in our married life.
In all of these things, God has been so faithful to me and my wife. We never had a single day that we worry about our finances and money. We feel content. We have a long way to go. We still do some mistakes about finances but we know we can bounce back.
We would have not been able to do it if He is not faithful! It takes a lot of prayers, praises and giving thanks to Him who relentlessly guides us for richer or for poorer.
WRITTEN BY: JUNVER ARCAYNA
Featured Image: The Paper Bunny
*It is our intention to help couples and singles to have hope again that financial problems can be turned around. We are not financial advisors. These things are our personal experiences and insights. If you can relate or you want to know more, feel free to message us and we will get back to you.