More than six months of being married, living on our own, managing rents and expenses has taught us a lot. Add to it, getting a car (a Volkswagen Polo!) has been the kind of thing that leaves a lot of lessons in its wake. Especially being freelancers, our bank accounts have this nasty habit of soaring and plummeting at random. There is almost no discernible pattern to our incomes. So managing such rowdy, unruly finances is indeed a task. But I know now that it isn’t impossible. First and foremost, I bow to the man of the house, the husband for his awesome instincts for all this stuff.. Left on my own, I’d probably have fluctuated between buying out a mall and selling everything I own to manage a few meals… So here are a few things that we’ve done to help smooth things and grant ourselves a semblance of peace.
1. Pre Wedding Planning: When we decided to get married, we discussed and decided that we’d be living on our own and not with our families. That meant a whole host of expenses that would crop up… Just the electronics would take away huge chunk of our money. So we did a smart thing. In the months prior to the wedding, we purchased our electronics as and when possible… The fridge, the washing machine and the microwave. With those out of the way, it kinda eased the pressure on the post marriage budgets. Think of it as building a home in instalments. This helps a lot… A LOT!
2. The Wedding Fund: So we did this thing on our invitation cards, where we mentioned that instead of gifts, we’d really appreciate cash gifts. I am so relieved that almost everyone took the hint. Barring a couple of other gifts, we got cash which created a huge cash reserve for us. When we were setting up home, we used money from this pool, thus making sure that the set up expenses did not eat into our bank accounts. We got furniture, fixtures, appliances, etc. but we put a limit on how much we would spend so that some of that money could be kept aside as a reserve. I recommend this idea very much. Two fold advantage: you are not stuck with the gifts that you don’t want and you have plenty of resource to aid you through the first steps of married life. The leftover cash is also a helpful fund to fall back on for later.
3. Unconscious Savings: We read about this idea somewhere and used it. As mentioned earlier, it becomes difficult for freelancers to plan savings because of the no fixed income thing. So we started this thing a few months before marriage and continued it even after. Whenever we spent money and got change in return, we kept aside the small denominations in a separate pocket in our bags. At home, we have a jar and a piggy bank; the coins go into the pig and the notes into the jar. It doesn’t pinch you when you put away a couple of bucks everyday but you’ll be surprised how much money can get accumulated like this! In the long term, when the jar and the piggy are full, remove the money and put it into a fixed deposit. Viola! You have a small savings pocket!
4. Chart Expense: At the end of each day, make it a habit to make a note of where you spent and how much. As you do this, you develope another habit; every time you are about to make an expense, you ask yourself if this is really needed. Don’t always hold back from giving yourself and each other a treat but make sure that you are not over doing it. Just simply acknowledging where the money is going makes it easier to control it so that you are never in a place to ask, where did all the money go..? You’ll know where it went and why!
5. Watch Your Loans: This is my husbands brilliant mind at work. When we decided to get the car, we knew we’d have to take a loan for it. He wrote a long piece on a forum for Volkswagen car owners about getting the right loan. You can find it here. But one of the most interesting things that we have begun doing is that when we pay each instalment, we pay a little more than is due. In the short run, it doesn’t bother us much. Instead of around 8500/- per month, we put in 10000/-. What this does is that it keeps reducing the principal loan amount and in the long run, saves us a lot of money in interest. It also gets rid of the loan in a shorter period of time. We’ve also decided to put in as much extra money into the loan account as and when possible towards the same end.
6. Have Fun: This is the most important part. I know people rolling in gold who lead miserable life. Don’t let your finances become a cloud over your head. Whatever the situation, you can handle it. In the meantime, life is happening to you. Don’t miss out! Have fun! My husband and I don’t need big, expensive things to be happy. He often brings me some funny shaped lolly pop or some simple flowers or candy and it makes my day! Be willing to be happy and anything you have, will be enough. Money does make life comfortable but it is not all that you need to be happy. Find little things to make each other happy. We are currently reading out Harry Potter to each other… We call it co-reading. I’ve almost swallowed the books as a child but he hasn’t read them so it is fun! And not expensive at all 😉
Bottom line being, despite doing all this, finance is not gonna be an easy pet to keep but it is one of the many joys of being an adult (sarcasm detected?). Take it in your stride. Never pass an opportunity to make money. The legal, fair way.. Don’t go getting involved in nefarious activities and say I suggested it! And there is one more thing. Generate goodwill… With everyone around. Be good to people even if it is the guy serving your coffee. I believe the universe takes care of the people who care. Karma is very real, and she takes very good care of those who do good. As long as you can look yourself in the eye and sleep well at night, I think the rest falls into place. Don’t you think?