Real Talk

Family Finance Management: How to Handle Your Family’s Finances

Mariel Bitanga of Simply Finance discusses family finance management and how Filipino couples and families can thrive financially.

When it comes to finances, Filipinos have a tendency to get shy or awkward talking about it. So we sat down with Mariel Bitanga, a registered financial planner and the founder of Simply Finance, to ask her some questions that Filipinos may want the answers to—especially with regard to family finance management.

Simply Finance is a boutique financial planning firm that helps empower modern-day Filipino women. They provide financial solutions according to unique goals and aspirations. Its founder, Mariel Bitanga, has been in the industry since 2015. She trained with the Registered Financial Planners®️ of the Philippines and is licensed by the Insurance Commission of the Philippines.

“My goal is to simplify finances and help people realize that handling it doesn’t have to be hard,” she says. “You just have to be consistent, and it can really make a difference.”

family finance management
Mariel Bitanga of Simply Finance

Family Finance Management

For young couples

When asked what financial advice she can give to young couples who are about to get married, Mariel excitedly shares that she herself is an upcoming bride. “Apart from being a financial planner, I’m also experiencing this firsthand.”

“Even before getting married, once you’re serious about your partner, you have to open the communication about finances. I think and believe and agree with many people that one of the biggest investments and decisions you’ll make is choosing your life partner. Your life partner will ultimately affect how you handle, manage, and grow your money.”

“Talk about how much you’re earning, how you grew up with money, what your habits are, your relationship with money, if you have any debt that you’ll bring into the marriage with you—talk about it already. What are your ultimate financial goals? What type of lifestyle do you want to achieve? Because sometimes, what if one partner wants a simple life in the province while the other partner wants a lavish life in the city? If you’re not aligned, it might not work in the long run.”

“Once you’ve talked about those things, create a system moving forward. It doesn’t have to be a set system that you’ll follow for the rest of your marriage. Of course, things will change. But when you start out, you can already decide who takes care of what. Who will take care of the bills? Who will take care of your future children’s needs? There’s no set rule but talk about how you’ll address these goals and your monthly or annual budgeting.”

family finance management

For young families

“Ideally, before starting a family, you already talked about it and planned around certain expenses that might arise. Sit down with your partner and list down everything that you feel and know you’ll spend on when it comes to your children and other new responsibilities. Discuss and agree on who takes care of what.”

“You also have to prepare for a lot of things like the child’s needs and education, and maybe household help. You have to gauge your salaries and earnings. If you earn this much, will it meet the tuition fee goals of the child? Things like that. And if it gets overwhelming, that’s when you can ask for help and maybe hire a financial planner to assist you in coming up with actionable strategies.”

Finance Management Between Husband and Wife

“There’s no set rule where Partner A pays for this and Partner B pays for this. It really depends per family and per situation. Money is a very, very personal thing. What works for some might not necessarily work for other people. So no matter how many budgeting templates or guidelines there are, a family always has to look inward and do a lot of reflecting to see what works best for them.”

“Discuss it with your partner and your family. It will come out when you start talking and having open communication. Usually, rent takes the biggest chunk of expenses. And maybe the partner who earns more can pay for it. Through open communication, you can see what’s realistic and who can take care of what.”

Preparing for the Future with Family Finance Management

family finance management

“Different families have different needs and situations. But in order to have savings for the future, save 20% or more of the family’s income. This should go to savings and investments for the future. And if 20% isn’t feasible, at least 10%. If you can do more, then better!”

Have multiple streams of income

“Let’s say all the family’s expenses are absolute necessities that they can’t really cut off anything and save a portion. Then it means the family has to reassess how they’re earning and really think of increasing their cash flow. Maybe you can ask for a raise or maximize bonuses and commission structures at work. These days, it’s very normal for people to have more than one stream of income. Maybe one partner can have a side hustle and start a small business to earn extra money. The reality is if you can’t cut off any expenses to set aside savings and investments because everything is a necessity, then it means you really have to increase your income.”

“Another reality is that saving 20% of your income for savings doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll reach your financial goal. You really have to compute properly and see if the 20% is enough. If it isn’t, then again you have to find ways to earn more money so you can set aside.”

Investing in your child’s future

“It all goes back to planning as early as possible. Even before you have children. Talk about what kind of life you want to give your child. Which school do you envision your child to be in? From there, you can already gauge how much you’ll need for tuition and other expenses you’ll have to prepare for.”

“If you have young children now, then do it now. Start planning now. Don’t wait for another year or two years. Your biggest asset is time. And you’re lucky if your child is still young. It means you still have quite a lot of time to build a fund for him or her—which also gives you the advantage that if you start early, you can put in a little bit less. Because compounding interest will help you along the way.”

“Compute and plan what kind of life you envision for your child. And from there, work backward. How will you reach those goals by setting aside certain percentages for savings and investments? Choose an investment that’s realistic for you, that you understand as a couple, that’s accessible, that you can constantly add to. The operative word is consistency. Not just one time, big time. Unless you already have millions to set aside. But realistically, figure out how much you need and from there, choose investments that are accessible to you.”

“Be very diligent and consistent in setting aside for your child. Let time and compounding interest help you out along the way.”

Consistency is key when it comes to family finance management

“The common denominator and sentiment all throughout is planning. You really have to plan. With all aspects, especially with money, you really have to discuss and face challenges together. Even if you’re a housewife, you are still a part of the equation. You are still part of the team that works on it and is affected by it. Planning and communication shouldn’t be one time, big time either. It has to be consistent as well.”

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