Money is always a contentious issue, especially when you’re in a relationship. Often, the salaries you both earn will be different. Even though this is a fairly normal scenario, it can cause no end of insecurity and unhappiness. Especially when you never figure out a system to talk about money together.
It’s not something you really want to bring up at the dinner table. Imagine yourself saying: “Hi honey! So how much did you earn today?” Ridiculous, right? But a discussion about your finances is inevitable. At the end of the day, you still have to face the money issue. Living in Singapore certainly isn’t cheap, even if you don’t live near CBD.
Money isn’t the be-all, end-all. But although having money doesn’t make you happy, not having money does make you unhappy. There’s no need to ruin a perfectly good relationship by not talking frankly about your finances and expectations for the future. So, here’s a quick guide you can use to take charge of your finances as a couple, tailored to Singaporeans. It will give you a basic overview of the kinds of things you should be keeping track of
But before we start, a few guidelines:
Transparency is key
Assuming you’re planning to live together (or are already living together), is there any point in hiding your salary from your other half? Just be frank about your account balances and earning potential. It’ll save you a lot of time and energy in the long run. If you feel like you can’t trust your partner with your money, it might not be about the money but the relationship.
Be thrifty but not stingy
You’re aiming to save money, but the whole point of saving money is to spend it on something. Hoarding money for the sake of hoarding money is not helpful. Have a long-term goal in mind. When the time comes and you’ve saved enough money to spend on that week-long holiday in Tokyo, spend it.
Speaking of holidays, try to aim for around three weekend trips and two longer vacations a year. That’s plenty for the average Singaporean. Not only do you get to enjoy some time away from work, but you also get to do it with your partner.
Always be aware that money is only a means to an end. Don’t save money to get more money.
How To Save Efficiently as a Singaporean Couple
Overall Balances (First Tab)
In order to save efficiently as a couple, the most crucial thing you should do is to establish a shared tracker of all your assets. Instead of opening your own Excel spreadsheet, you can use a Google Sheet which you can both view and edit. The whole point of doing a shared assets tracker is to ensure transparency to eliminate as many misunderstandings as possible. An example: women are likely to have more CPF in their accounts because they enter the workforce earlier, so don’t be too put off by the disparity in savings. Since Google saves your change history, you can also easily check who made what change. In your Google spreadsheet, you can use any asset-tracking format you see online or even your original expenses tracker. The one addition is that you should have two tables: one for each of you.
For example, you can create a table and insert the following row headers:
- CPF OA
- CPF SA
- CPF MA
Your columns will be taken up by the date and month. For example, 1-Feb-2019, 1-Mar-2019, 1-Apr-2019, and so on.
Then, duplicate the table for your partner. All you have to do is to fill in the blanks every month. You might also want to put in a table for any joint bank account you have.
You will only need a simple sum formula to calculate your totals, so it should be fairly easy to set up. Or if you’re not skilled with Excel or Google Spreadsheets, you can always look for pre-made financial spreadsheets online.
Projections (Second tab)
The next tab you should create is your projections tab. This tab will track your combined savings. Create a table with the following headers:
- Savings Balance
The “Him” and “Her” headings refer to your monthly contributions to the joint savings account. For example, if you’re both planning to contribute $200 a month, then you can fill the column with $200. And those monthly contributions should be reflected in your balance.
To see the growth of your savings in a visual form, you can create a bar graph to track how your savings grow over the years. This way, you can check ahead to see if you will reach your expected balance in a few years’ time. If you find that your money is growing too slowly, then you might want to increase your monthly contributions to the joint savings account.
Insurance (Third tab)
The third tab is of course for both your insurance plans. Here, you should list the following:
- Type of Insurance
- Name Insured Under Insurance
- Monthly Payment
- Yearly Payment
- Date Bought
- Policy No.
Again, create a duplicate table for your partner. You’ll be able to track how much money you both will be paying for your insurance plans monthly, as well as which specific types of insurance you have. By laying it all out in two simple tables, you can also make sure there are no gaps in protection in your current policies. You definitely don’t want to get into an accident and find that none of your insurances can cover the hospital cost! You should start with the most important policies first such as life and health insurance.
It’s not the most romantic thing you could be doing with your partner, but keeping track of all your shared assets and monthly payments is essential in any relationship. Talking about money and putting all your cards on the table requires a measure of trust. But for a relationship to be strong, it has to be based on trust in the other person. So, don’t hesitate and set up your shared savings tracker today.