In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful.

People often associate men with being methodical and calculated but in all honesty, I find men to be more impulsive than women when it comes to financial decisions.

During the planning stage, they are fast to whip out numbers and lay out a plan. Yet, when it comes to actual day-to-day spendings, they are quick to make allowances as well, willing to deviate from their original plan.

But my feelings and observations may be completely wrong. Maybe you would feel differently about men and money.

In any case, as a lady, I know I would have to be the one to step up and face the family financial matters myself.

My financial advisor has issued me this planner that contains some tips on money management. Let’s see if those advices could work for me.

So the first topic is cash flow management. It first talks about having a solid plan for our income.

The plan is CPF 40-30-20-10 rule.

For the benefit of international readers, CPF stands for Central Providence Fund. Kindly Google it. I am too lazy to explain. Lol.

CPF allocation is already automatically done for me, with 20% of my income going into that.

20% x $2400 = $480

So I am left with:

80% x $2400 or $2400 – $480 = $1920

Besides this deduction, as a Muslim Malay, the government automatically sets a set of deductibles on my salary as well. These are classified under ‘Fund’ and known as Mosque Building Fund (MBF) and Mendaki. I know some people rather withdraw from these but the amount is nominal to me so I have never minded. The MBF is $5 and the Mendaki Fund is $1.50.

$5 + $1.50 = $6.50

So after deducting that from my salary,

$1920 – $6.50 = $1913.50

I decided not to include variables such as Over Time (OT) pay and bonuses since those aren’t fixed.

So every month, I am bringing home that amount of money for sure.

So now the rule is <40% to be allocated to loans, <30% to be allocated to expenditure, ≥20% to be allocated to savings and ≥10% to be allocated to insurance.

I only have two outstanding loans at the moment, thankfully. The first loan is a housing loan, which I took up due to my parents’ dwindled CPF savings. The loan repayment is via CPF so I didn’t mind buy buying 33% ownership of the house since it won’t affect my income. Pro: I actually own a house. Like legit have my name on an actual house so if my husband leaves this world, I have a place I can return to since he is the sole owner of his house and I can’t have my name on two public properties. And my siblings don’t have a say in it. Con: I will have to keep a full-time job in order to maintain sufficient balance in my CPF so I am able to make the monthly repayment of $519. At this moment, I am left with a balance of $97,168.72. Either that or if I am to be self-employed, I need to ensure I am able to deposit that amount independently into my CPF every month without fail, which will be tough.

The other outstanding loan is one I dumbly took up for our planned trip to South Korea in order to meet the deadline of the payment. Unfortunately, right after I took that loan, the agency then decided to postpone it indefinitely. To this day. Sighs. So anyway, I took out a loan of $3000 via cashline for a two-year repayment plan. After making my 11/24-month payment, I am left with $1782.30 to pay. The repayment is at $152.50 a month so it doesn’t hit my salary too much. I have just requested for the annual fee waiver. Hopefully that goes through. Let’s see how much I am spending from my income on the repayment.

$152.50 / $1913.50 x 100 8%

That means my usage of loans is within a very healthy range of my spending power, considerably less than 40%.

Which means I have a buffer of 32%, which I won’t allocate to anything for now until I have figured out my expenditure. 32% of $1913.50 is $612.32 so let’s just keep that in mind.

As it stands, I am left with:

$1913.50 – $152.50 = $1761

If 30% of my salary is meant for expenditure, that means I only have:

30% x $1913.50 = $574.05

I am telling you now, that amount is insufficient for two people. But let’s take a look at the monthly bills and see if we can work things out.

Ez-link top-up: $90
MyRepublic Internet: $69.99
Netflix: $19.98
NTUC membership: $9
Town Council: $31
Utilities: $120
VIVIFI: $35.25
YouTube Premium: $11.99

Total: $387.21

That’s the list of die-die-die-must-haves in the bank. That leaves us with for groceries at best:

$574.05 – $387.21 = $186.84

Wow, that is tight. This shows I have no choice but to finally learn how to cook. Huhu. And it also shows I should probably fast regularly. So I’ll just eat twice in a day. Lol.

Ideally, that would be the plan but it is not realistic at all because A has needs such as smoking. I have no idea how much he smokes because he would buy two to three packs at a time. It becomes harder for me to track and I’m away from home most times. But I think I would need to put my foot down and tell him, hey, this is the amount you can get for the fags so you gotta make it work. My suspicion is he smokes four packs a week. He smokes LD Red Long, which retails at $12.20. So in one month, he should only spend:

$12.20 x 4 packs a week x 4 weeks = $195.20

Let’s keep that amount in mind for now. I shall proceed to savings. So based on the rule, I should at least save each month:

20% x $1913.50 = $382.70

So let’s take that out of the equation.

$1913.50 (Inc) – $574.05 (E) – $382.70 (S) = $956.75

10% should be allocated to insurance so that will be

10% x $1913.50 = $191.35

Our hospitalisation insurance premiums cost $200 per person on top of me taking up the Vitality programme at $8 a month.

$200 x 2 = $400

$400 / 12 months = $33.33

$33.33 + $8 = $41.33

$41.33 / $1913.50 x 100 2%

Lol. Definitely not spending the recommended minimum amount but we all have to agree here that it is not wise for us to take up anymore insurance plans. I could seriously use the remaining 8% of excess for expenditure instead.

So if we take the excess of 32% from loans and the 8% from insurance, we end up with a good 40% of buffer, which will undoubtedly go into expenditure. It can’t be helped. I have a family. Lol.

$1913.50 (Inc) – $574.05 (E) – $382.70 (S) – $41.33 (Ins) = $915.42

Okay, now I’m confused because 40% of $1913.50 is $765.40 yet I have $915.42 at my disposal after taking away the necessities except cigarettes. This is why I don’t do Math. Or rather, I can’t do Math. Hahaha!

But anyway, let’s take away the budget for cigarettes from the leftover.

$915.42 – $195.20 = $720.22

Okay, now it made more sense because the numbers are closer. Guess cigarettes are a necessity for my household after all. Sobs.

In Islam, we believe that in order to be blessed with more money, we should give more alms. The best is always to provide for your family first. I want to start giving my parents a monthly allowance again. It’s a good time to start this year. I can’t give much so I’ll give a modest amount of $100 each to my pops.

$720.22 – $200 = $520.22

$520.22 / 2 people = $260.11

That means the allowance for myself and A is $260.11 per person. So we will have to keep within this budget for whatever it is we wish to spend on. Jamming sessions, hangouts, meet-ups, car rentals, suppers, etcetera etcetera.

I just realised I could totally be mean and just take $915.42 minus $200 for the parents and then divide by two so that A will have to figure out how to balance out his budget for his cigarettes.

But I think it’s better to prepare that money earlier. Wifely intuition, maybe. If he needs more, then he has the allowance to tap on. I think that’s reasonable, yeah?

Here’s to being financially independent. I can do this.

Also, discovered there’s an Empire State of Mind Part II?! And it’s a Broken Down version?! Whut?! Well, put it on!

And Allah knows best. – MM