Having just posted about our Sell transactions for Mar 2017, I just realised it’s about time to write about our Buy transactions for Mar 2017 as well. Just need to wait for our last automated POSB Invest-Saver investment into the ABF Singapore Bond Index Fund (A35 on SGX) to go through early next week before I do so. In the meantime, I’m free to write about anything that comes to my mind. I know the title doesn’t give away much but it is about something that matters very much to me.
My wife and I track our personal finances & investment portfolio via Google Sheets and SGXCafe. On our iphones, we actually have the Google Sheets, SGXCafe and various bank applications to assist us with this monitoring process. Both of us have each other’s account login usernames and passwords for all of these apps. More importantly, we can access the same Google Sheet on our iphones that has detailed information and summaries of the following (for my wife and I separately and combined as well):
- Bank account balances that are manually updated weekly
- Investment portfolio balances that are automatically updated daily
- CPF balances that are manually updated monthly
- Housing loan/Mortgage principal balance that is manually updated monthly
- Salary and bonus payments received that are manually updated monthly
- Interest and dividend payments received that are manually updated monthly
- Expenses paid that are manually updated monthly
- Net worth figures that are automatically updated monthly
These are the numbers that represent a snapshot of our financial status and we have even built in basic portfolio and trend analysis functions into the Google Sheet to track our progress. Both my wife and I have visibility over all of these figures even though I’m the one doing most of the updating. It’s essential that she performs the checking function not just for accuracy purposes but to hold us accountable for the financial decisions we make on spending and investing relative to the income we earn.
It took us many years to get to where we are now and I know it’s an achievement to be able to set up and maintain such a financial maker-checker system. What’s surprising to me is that the people around us (family and friends that are couples or singles) do not even track their numbers in the first place. How can you make financial progress a goal if you don’t know your starting point?
There’s also something else that stands out when we observe the couples more closely. More often than not, you find the woman leaving the personal finance management to the man. This happens in the absence of kids and even more so in the presence of kids. Which is fine if the woman does not have much interest in that aspect but the man does. The big problem is when the woman doesn’t even bother to track the financial progress or only does a superficial check once in a while. You must at least update yourself on a monthly basis on the latest accounts and payments detailed information. This can be an easy process when you set up a centralised data storage system such as Google Sheets that you can update every month. Takes a lot less time than you think and you just need to be consistent. More importantly, don’t be lazy.
Women empowerment has become a significant topic of discussion in so many ways. It can mean very different things to a woman depending on her personal and environmental circumstances. The application can be so broad that it becomes difficult to narrow down the common specific needs and wants of women to be addressed. But one issue has consistently been highlighted to be of utmost importance to women. Give a woman the ability to earn her own money, raise her financial status and she will be more likely to have the opportunity to be empowered. This is already happening all around the world and more so in a developed country like Singapore.
Which means the next step is to ensure the woman doesn’t lose that ability and money she has earned. Sounds simple but I have seen this happen more often than you think, especially after having kids. Having a family does not justify neglecting your personal finances. Because you will be the one paying the price in the end. Don’t ever depend on anyone to manage your own money. That’s why I advocate the concept of knowing your numbers, whether it be applied to a woman or man. This is not a means for comparison but a mechanism for self-improvement, financially and otherwise. Start tracking now and you are bound to see the benefits over time.