The New Year is always the perfect time to get your finances in order. You get a fresh start and you have the whole twelve months to see your resolutions through. If you and your partner have been planning to be more responsible when it comes to your finances, SmartParenting.com.ph offers a little help to get you started. Here are 10 ways to be better at money this year:

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1. Keep separate accounts for individual savings.

Celebrity couple Solenn Heusaff and Nico Bolzico recently made headlines after Solenn said that she doesn’t know how much her husband earns, but money experts actually kind of agree to this setup. Fitz Villafuerte, a blogger, entrepreneur, and a registered financial planner advises couples to maintain individual accounts for personal savings. “Having individual accounts allows more flexibility in your source of funds,” he says. It will also help lessen conflicts about money since couples might feel confined if they can’t get hold of their own money.

2. Set aside money for your emergency fund.

We never know what will happen to us in the coming days, so an emergency fund is a must for every household. Agree as a couple to set aside a specific amount every month and make sure to stick with it. “[It will] adequately prepare you for unexpected events like unemployment, illness, or injury that takes away your ability to work, or any other unplanned expenses,” says Ofelia Tordesillas, M.D., a financial planner and pediatrician by profession.

3. Start a money jar.

It might sound funny that two adults are still thinking of storing money in piggy banks, but if you have the discipline to set aside money every day, then it will eventually amount to something big by year’s end. If you want to level it up, put bills inside a jar instead of just coins.

4. Take advantage of rewards cards and points.

We’re pretty sure that some of you don’t actually pay attention to the number of points you’ve accumulated, so this time around, save these points up and use them by the end of the year. It will slash a lot from your Christmas budget, that’s for sure!

5.  Learn to say no.

Friends and relatives borrowing money may be inevitable, but you should know that it’s perfectly okay if you decline and not lend them any money, especially if your financial situation is tight. As parents, you have a lot of responsibilities, not to mention a number of important bills to pay, so if you don’t have any to spare for now, don’t be afraid to say no.

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6. Be transparent and keep your communication lines ‘always open.’

One of the major reasons why couples fight is because they keep secrets from each other—especially money-related ones. Lying to your spouse can put a strain on your relationship, so remember to communicate openly. “Talk about the reason why secrets are being kept. Address that first before moving on and solving other problems that exist in that secret,” says Villafuerte. You and your spouse are a team so find solutions for your money concerns together.

7. Settle credit card debts in full.

Credit cards are convenient especially when you don’t have cash on hand or if you need to pay for big purchases in installments. But that’s what also makes it risky. “Always remember to pay your credit card bills on time and in full,” says Tordesillas. “Otherwise, interest payment and late charges can easily counter the merits of these cards.”

8. Before buying a luxury item, pause and do the math.

Tordesillas says that lifestyle expenses, which includes luxury items, should only make up 10 percent of your income. So, before you reach for that designer handbag, think long and hard about what you’ll be sacrificing in exchange, like saving for your child’s college education, paying for your own house, or building a retirement fund.

9. Teach your kids how to budget their allowance.

It’s not only you and your spouse who should be taking lessons on money. Your children should learn how to be responsible for their own money, too. If they’re big enough to get allowances, consider giving the money to them on a weekly basis so they can decide how much they should allocate per day for expenses. “Instead of the usual, ‘you have to save 20 percent of what I give you” speech, you should tell your children to spend as little as possible during the week. They open themselves up to the possibility of saving as much as 50 percent or even 80 percent of what you give them,” says Joe Ferreira, president of Money Doctors Inc., a personal finance consulting firm.

10. Bond with the kids at home.

This tip might sound funny but when you think about it, the expenses that come with spending time with your kids at the mall every weekend can add up and cause a strain on your family budget. To save on money, think of bonding activities that you can do at home instead, like streaming movies and shows on the TV, riding bikes around your subdivision, or cooking merienda together!

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This story originally appeared on Smartparenting.com.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Femalenetwork.com editors.

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