Sunday, 1 June 2014

Day 104: Money in Marriage

Yesterday, S and I went to our second SATURDATES at CCF. One of our favorite couple, Edric and Joy Mendoza, talked about my favorite topic-FINANCES.

Edric is one of the anchors of ON THE MONEY, a show that aims to teach Filipinos how to better manage their finances.

In a country where money talk seems to be a cultural taboo, I believe this show is badly needed. I have seen too many friends who worked  abroad and were unable to save because they send all their money back home. They invested in their siblings and relatives in the hopes that in the future their generosity will be rewarded.

Unfortunately, people are risky investments. 

Last night my friend, Eleanor, told my mom that her inlaws are treating her badly because they felt that she took away their "breadwinner". She kept quiet for a long time but when she had a baby, it was as if her maternal instinct took over and she became braver.

Money is one of the sources of conflict between couples. Most couples are uncomfortable discussing it during the dating stage. Given issues such as the one experienced by Eleanor, Edric encouraged us to discuss the ff questions:

He also asked soon to be wed couples if they have started making their household budgets. Almost all haven't. 

He mentioned that it is important to disclose to your future spouse if you have financial responsibilities to your family and if you have debts. The moment you are married, you share these burdens.

I grew up in a home where money is discussed openly. My mom is a finance teacher and my dad is a businessman. I am also Chinese, so go figure.

The principle of my mom is very simple. Declare your savings and then adjust our lives around your target savings. Savings come first. Savings is the constant. Expenses are the variables.

My dad has a better concept, make your money work for you. Unfortunately, my dad didn't talk to us  as much as my mom did, so I only learned how to save. I'm fortunate  that S is aware and is practicing this concept.

This may come as a shock to you , TOO MUCH SAVINGS IS ALSO BAD. You actually lose money even if you don't spend because of inflation.

When I met S, 90% of my assets are in cash. I'm as liquid as the Niagara Falls. I'm allergic to debt too. 

Edric taught us the difference of good debt and bad debt. Good debt are those that earn (assets), bad debts are those that depreciates (liabilities). If you loan to buy a car and use if for business, it's a good debt. If it's for personal use, technically it's considered a bad debt.

Let me add complexity and excitement to this concept.

                Question: Assuming you have 700,000 pesos in cash and you can technically buy a car and      
                pay for it with hard cash, do you pay in cash or take a loan?

                 Answer: It depends. If you can invest the cash and get higher returns vs the interest rate,
                 invest the cash and loan the money to buy the car. 
                 Assuming ofcourse,  you know how to  invest.
                 Ex: If equities can give 15% return and the car loan is only 8%, then it's better not to use

As you can see, I love money talk. BUT! I'm not the smartest steward. I only keep the money! I don't make it grow. And worst, I have made it as a source of my security. 

To me, money is HOPE. It gives me independence. It CAN allow me to give up on things I don't like. It CAN enable me to run away. It allows me to build and repair relationships. With money, I can close a chapter of my life and start a new one.

And so, when it was Joy's turn to talk, I was really moved. Infact, I almost cried but I had to stop myself lest I make a scene.  She shared how she had allowed money to give her a sense of security and in the process, fall short in being a LIFE GIVER to her husband. Sometimes in our efforts to solve the problem, we end up alienating our partners. 

Placing my trust in money instead of the Lord is a concept I've always struggled with ever since I was a kid. It is worth mentioning that I started working and earning since I was 9 years old. I was trained in the concept of hard work but was ignorant in the idea of grace.

Another interesting thing that Joy shared was the FUN FUND. This is the "allowance" given by the one earning and/or managing the budget. The recipient of the fun fund can use it at his/her own discretion and without getting  permission.

Edric and Joy also shared that budgeting, there are 2 key roles: CEO and CFO. The CEO makes the ultimate decision and the CFO manages the finances. The man by virtue of his Biblical role to lead should be the CEO. Whoever is good in finances, be it husband or wife, should be the CFO. 

S and I agreed that I will be the CFO. I will be given the household budget and my own fun fund. However, S is worried about my excitement over budgeting given my addiction to savings. I know all the energy saving tips and low cost cooking techniques. He is contemplating if budgeting will be a boon or bane.

It was indeed an enriching Saturday. I strongly encourage couples to attend the SATURDATES and attend the Sunday Service in CCF.  The more our love for God grows, the more our relationship improves. We are not a perfect couple and life is still hard but our burdens really became lighter the moment we decided to walk with God.

Still on Pause,


Note: On The Money airs Monday-Friday, 3:30-4:00 on ANC.

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