A Singaporean Couple's Cheat Sheet For Saving Together (Guide Included)
“Happy Wife, Happy Life?”
Money tends to be one of the most heavily contested points between couples today. Especially during COVID times, when it is even more important to save up prudently.
There are a thousand and one ways that couples can adopt when talking and planning for a financial future together.
But today I will share one that I personally use with my other half. And it’s a pretty basic concept which almost any couple can use.
In this article, you’ll find a section where I detail the exact tools that I use personally and a downloadable Excel sheet that you can use to talk to your partner and (hopefully) start using over this weekend!
A Little Bit About Us
Before I dive any deeper into this topic of saving together as a couple, I think it’s important for readers to know which life stage I’m at now (and how you can relate to it):
- We’ve been dating for 10 years, working for almost 5 years each now
- I proposed to her in 2017, you can read about my funny engagement ring story where I debate the value of a diamond ring
- We planned to get married in August 2020, unfortunately our wedding got delayed due to COVID-19
- We just paid the deposit for our wedding venue – I’ll write about our miles card strategy, which my fiancée designed, another day
- We also recently made our downpayment for our HDB BTO via our CPF OA, which we’ll get the keys to in December 2021
As you can see, we’re pretty much like any other regular working Singaporean couple, who has progressed from dating to planning for a future together.
Our Shared Money Beliefs
Here’s what we believe is key to saving successfully as a couple:
- Be VERY open and transparent about our money to each other, in terms of account balances and earning potential
- Be frugal but not kiamsiap (Hokkien: stingy)
- Plan to take around 3 short weekend trips and 2 longer holidays in the year (with family and/or each other)
- Understand the time-value of money but also living in the present is most important
- Remember that money is a means to an end, not the end itself
So before you proceed any further, you would be ideal if you have already established a certain degree of trust with your partner with regard to both of your money beliefs and habits.
After all, you can’t start saving as a couple if one of you simply wants to #YOLO and lead the jet-setting life while the other is content with eating cai png (mixed vegetable rice)
Are you ready?
A Simple Formula To Saving As A Couple
There’s nothing cheem about saving as a couple. It just takes commitment and a proper system.
How do I do it with my partner? We just use a simple 2-step process that we both track individually through:
- STEP 1 (Excel Sheet): For our consolidated view of each other’s individual account balances, combined savings projections and insurance policies
- STEP 2 (Seedly App): For individual tracking of our monthly cash flow (ins and outs) and investments
STEP 1: So What’s In The Excel Sheet?
After clicking on this link, you will:
- Find a Google sheet which you can only view, but not edit
- Need to click ‘Download As’ > ‘Excel’, in order to save a copy for yourself which you then can edit
- Notice that there are 3 tabs:
- Overall Balances
First Tab – Overall Balances
- What is it: This is the overall net position of all your assets that both of you have.
- Why is it important: The idea here is to be super transparent so there is no misunderstanding between both parties (for example, she has way more in her CPF than me because she started working 2 years earlier, and THAT’s OKAY).
- How to use it: Update this monthly, on the first weekend of every month ideally, and you’ll both have an understanding of how much your assets have grown both individually, as well as combined under a joint bank account
Pro Tip: To update the numbers with just a click of a button, simply use the Seedly App to update all your balances automatically before pull out the relevant data.
Second Tab – Projections
- What is it: This allows you to track a combined view of your savings together (In case you’re wondering, we’re using the CIMB FastSaver, SingLife account and the SC Jumpstart for this as it gives us liquidity and also slightly better than normal interest rates with no requirement).
- Why is it important: It’s a great way to plan ahead and visually see how much you have accumulated against how much you actually need in the future. By constantly looking at this figure and reviewing it, we can plan ahead and determine if it would make sense to increase the monthly contributions. We started with $200 every month and now increased it to $800 every month in order to meet our target for our BTO renovation.
- How to use it: You can change the amounts under ‘Balance’, as well as ‘HIM’ and ‘HER’ to better reflect how much you need to save in your combined savings in order to meet your goals.
Third Tab – Insurance
- What is it: This is a simple chart that allows you to detail your insurance policies.
- Why is it important: It provides a macro-perspective that allows you to identify any gaps in protection for both of you. It’s also a convenient reference (touch wood) in case of emergencies, where you have the policy numbers on hand for when reaching out to the respective insurers for claims.
- How to use it: Simply fill this up with the relevant details (start with LIFE and HEALTH policies first. which are arguably the most critical forms of protection).
STEP 2: So Where Does The Seedly App Come In?
We both use the Seedly app installed for one similar reason: Tracking our individual cash flow and investments.
How do we do this?
All you have to do is download the Seedly App (available on both iOS and Android) and:
- Create an account in the app with either your Facebook account or email
- Link your bank accounts and sync them for the latest transactions
- Manually add any accounts for insurance and investments
1. Pull Out Your Latest Transactions
Either via Automatic syncing or manually inputting your bank accounts:
- Click on the ‘Home’ Tab (at the bottom left)
- Scroll through to see all your latest transactions
- Check for any anomalies or fees you might have been charged unknowingly (FYI: it’s happened to me multiple times)
2. Pull Out Your Monthly Expense Reports
Once you’ve checked through your latest transactions:
- Click on the ‘Reports’ Tab (at the bottom again, but right in the middle)
- View your expense in a pie chart (like the one below)
- Understand where your money is going to
3. Keep Track Of Your Joint Account
After settling your individual expenses, you’ll want to look at your joint bank account:
- Click on the ‘Accounts’ Tab (at the bottom, in between the ‘Home’ and ‘Reports’ Tabs)
- Sync your joint account
- Check if the balance is correct
Pro Tip: Make sure you uncheck the ‘Include in asset summary report’ option so that your joint account will not be counted into your overall balance!
It Takes Commitment To Save As A Couple
If you’re still here, chances are, you and your partner are committed to each other and wish to ‘get serious’.
And if your significant other is unfortunately not convinced or fully onboard with whatever I’ve just shared, think about it this way… The 2-step cheatsheet is FREE to use and it really isn’t rocket science.
It literally is just:
- A simple excel sheet for tracking purposes and consolidation
- A FREE to use app that syncs all your bank accounts and gives you all your data without the need to create massive spreadsheets and dig out past bank statements for 5,000 hours of data entry
So hey, what’s the harm in trying this out? Because who knows? It might even make you and your better half panic a little and want to get your finances in order now!
And that’s a good thing.
Saving up for a wedding AND an HDB flat is no joke.
Need Another Perspective? Hear It From Heartland Boy And Heartland Girl!
Do you and your partner both feel like dying whenever you talk about money? You’re not alone…
If you have burning questions like:
- How do I own a joint bank account with my partner?
- How do we apply for an HDB BTO flat?
- What’s it like becoming parents?
- How do we start insurance planning for the family?
Check out the SeedlyTV Episode 3 on which took place around a year back, featuring Heartland Boy and Girl, who answered burning community questions!