When my husband and I got married we discussed our finances and set our goals. The first thing we wanted to do was to buy a house before starting a family because we were renting a small one-bedroom apartment. Moving to a bigger apartment or house whilst still paying rent was not an option. We decided to clear all our debts and start saving.
My husband and I approached finances in totally different ways. My husband was very methodical in how he dealt with money and if he set a financial goal, he would aim to achieve it, even if it meant going for days without eating. Whenever money was put in the savings account, under no circumstances and I mean none was that money removed.
I on the other hand, was very flexible with my approach. I was happy to adjust a few things in order to accommodate unforeseen circumstances but still be able to reach my goals. I also wanted to feel like I could go shopping when I wanted to and I wanted to feel like after I had worked hard all day I was getting some sort of a reward.
Seeing as we wanted to save as much as possible in a short period of time, we adopted my husband’s approach to saving. This was very hard for me because initially we didn’t have any allowances, no money for leisure activities or shopping. At first, I was ok with this approach because the end goal motivated me so much. However, after weeks of enduring long and stressful hours at work I needed some sort of a release. I remember one afternoon, I just took my bag and went to the shopping mall. I bought a couple of tops then went to do the weekly grocery shopping. I returned home and had a discussion with my husband.
We decided to adopt a strategy that worked for both of us. We incorporated allowances in the budget and had a savings break. The allowances were a small amount that we both had. It was money that we would use for anything we wanted. For me this worked well because I could go shopping and if I wanted to buy myself something more expensive I could easily save the allowance and purchase the item. I felt like I was now getting the flexibility that worked for me.
The savings break was when we agreed a month where we would not contribute 100% of our target to the savings pot. This allowed us to buy other items that we needed for the apartment or update clothes for work. This worked well because it was like having a small reward which you could look forward to while you are working on the larger goal.
From this experience I learned that if you are sharing finances with another person especially a spouse, it is important to understand both your financial personalities and come up with a strategy that works for both of you. It is important for both of you to fully understand the goals you are trying to achieve and the things that motivate you to keep going. Knowing this early on enables you to tap into your individual strengths whilst mitigating the weakness. You avoid major financial burnout and the savings process becomes more enjoyable.
If saving on your own, understand your financial personality, strengths and weaknesses. You can also reach out to people who can assist you on your journey. Having a financial coach can help you achieve your goals as they will encourage you to be accountable.