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Posted: 06 Sep 2017 02:05 AM PDT
The following is a guest post from Mr. Xyz from Our Financial Path.
We met about 4 years ago and from day one, it was love at first sight. We have a lot in common and enjoy spending time together but what quickly found out, is that we had very different finances. I enjoyed spending and used to go shopping just to pass time while she, to my great surprise, had a healthy savings account.
I was brought up in a very financially savvy, frugal, middle-class family who thought me about the importance of savings at a very young age but when I started making good money, I did spend every penny I earned.
I just did not have a goal, anything to look up to. Then, I discovered the Financial Independence movement, a whole concept that allows one to be financially free relatively quickly (a decade or so) by saving a large part of income and investing it in the markets for long-term prosperity.
I was amazed by the concept and math behind it so I immediately showed my spouse and started planning our future for early retirement in the next ten years (we are currently saving over half our incomes). Getting her on board was just the first step, and then we have to follow through.
Having a grand, long-term, goal is great but it is the little things that will eventually add-up to it.
Working on Money Together
Communicate with your spouse to see if you are on the same track. Without communication, you will never know if you share the same goals and values. If you are both savers and wish to reach financial independence early, you can work together toward that goal and speed up the journey. If you are both natural savers like me and my wife, having a common goal will motivate you and keep you accountable.
The thing is; things do not cost twice as much when you are two living together. Housing, for example, is much cheaper as a couple since you can split the expenses while basically living in the same space as when you were single. You might also end up saving a ton of alcohol and bars now that you are out of the single's scene now!
If you both have different goals, it can work out too. Keeping separate finances and separate goals might be the best thing to do if you and your spouse are not in the same boat. If you are ready to sacrifice a little to buy yourself freedom later, that’s great, but not everyone is ready to do so and that's completely fine. Instead of arising constant stress and concerns about your finances, simply do your own thing and let your spouse manage their own side of things.
Even if we share the common goal of reaching financial independence early, we use the three-bucket system.
Your Bucket - My Bucket - Our Bucket
With spending buckets, we each have our own separate bank account and our own spending but share a third bucket for the shared expenses such as our mortgage, bills, and maintenance. This lets us focus on our long-term objectives rather than nit-picking each other’s spending every time a few dollars are spent.
The easiest budget to follow is having no budget at all. We simply automate our savings to max out our registered plans (401k, Roth IRA…), attain our desired savings rate, and then we live off the rest.
Total Income – Total Savings = Your Budget for the Month
Spending only what is left after your savings forces you to reach your goals but it only works if you do not go into debt and go over-budget. For example, we use cards for all our purchases to maximize the rewards but we never spend money we do not have. The easiest way to think of this is to see your credit cards as a medium of payment and not as available credit. Use cards for their benefits but always pay the balance in full each month.
It is undeniable that credit cards can offer a lot of benefits and we maximize these rewards to the max (we earned over $13,000 in travel rewards last year!!!) but it has its inconveniences. Annual interests are so high that if we were not tracking our expenses and spending only what we can afford to pay back, the fees would negate any rewards earned.
My wife hates calling credit card companies but she never complains once we stay in fancy hotels and fly the world for free!
Talking about benefits, explore benefits offered to you and use them to the maximum. Whether from your employer or from the government, if they have a program in place for you; you deserve it. Take full advantage of any match your employers are offering in your 401K or search the U.S. government’s benefits page to see which program could help you.
Adding up all these little things can lead to great, amazing, things. We are planning to retire early in the next 10 years and this is only possible because of all the little things that we do to make our life slightly more efficient. Single or as a couple, small life hacks will change your life over the long-term.
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