Couple Money: Living on One Paycheck

At the beginning of the year, we explored the idea of buying an investment property. I did type that correctly – investment property. There is no way we can afford a house in the suburb we’re living in, all the more in the suburb we want to live in and we saw some properties under $500k in suburbs that have potential so we started looking and inspecting.

That was two months ago though, the market has gone berserk now, so we stopped looking actively. We did manage to get a mortgage pre-approval and that was when the idea of living on one paycheck came up.

LIVING ON ONE PAYCHECK: AN EXPERIMENT

I confess, it was my idea, but I swear I didn’t force him into it. When we saw the monthly mortgage repayments from our pre-approval amortisation schedule, we thought that we can afford to make extra repayments but then we also thought: ‘what about our rent and our living expenses?’

So I crunched some numbers and found that this is possible with our combined paychecks. Not only that, it is also possible to still keep some money for buying shares – not a lot but enough to get the investments (outside Super) rolling. My calculations showed that we can 1) live on my pay, 2) make extra mortgage repayments, 3) buy some shares, 4) have some fun money, too.

I got excited and showed the worksheet to my boyfriend. I suggested that we give it a try. I honestly expected him to say no because he’s that type who likes to provide (i.e. he likes to pay stuff) but was I surprised that he was 100% on board with this one.

LIVING ON ONE PAYCHECK: A GOAL, A CHALLENGE

We are both savers and we both know how to handle our individual finances wisely but we don’t exactly know how our finances look like as a couple. We have always divided bills and we keep our accounts separate.

When it comes to individual spending, we never buy anything for ourselves without consulting the other first. We didn’t know each other’s account balance to the last digit, but we do have a good idea of each other’s spending habit (very similar, if you’d ask me). This is the reason why we are both think that my pay is enough to cover our living expenses.

Although we believe that we can do this, it is merely a goal at this point. We had constant unexpected/unplanned expenses since the beginning of the year that we can’t really live on one paycheck just yet. It is comforting to know though, that our huge expenses are not regular expenses but one-off purchases or payments. If we take these transactions off the equation, the results are more positive.

And because this is the first time we are combining our finances, we are also still adjusting on how real couple money works. We decided to use a credit card for all variable expenses (anything we have to pay out of direct debit) and this is working well, so far.

LIVING ON ONE PAYCHECK: THE BENEFITS

This whole thing started from our wanting to pay mortgage aggressively. We don’t even have a mortgage to repay yet, but we decided to go on with it anyway because living on one paycheck will:

  1. help us save more than half of our total take home pay;
  2. make us track our expenses, which will then motivate us to spend even more consciously;
  3. help us improve our finances as a couple by making us accountable for both our spending;
  4. help us reassess the level of financial risks we are willing to take, which I hope will lead to us investing more;
  5. help us prepare for financial emergencies (i.e. losing a job) and for when either of has to stop working (i.e. when we decide to have kids).

LIVING ON ONE PAYCHECK: A PRIVILEGE

While I say it is a challenge for us, we aren’t forgetting the fact that we are privileged to be able to do this by choice. We acknowledge that other couples do not have the same choice available to them but they do live on one paycheck anyway because they have to. We are both blessed to have permanent jobs with decent pay and that neither of us has significant debts to pay. We also consider ourselves lucky that we share the same financial values, because really, this won’t be possible if only one of us believed in saving for our future.

FINAL THOUGHTS

We still haven’t bought a house and we aren’t in a rush to buy one, but we decided to live on my pay anyway because of the many financial benefits it brings. Doing this will not only improve our finances but also our relationship. My pay alone is not enough to cover our expenses just yet, because of our major expenses the past few months, but I think it will be starting June. Actual numbers up to this day are saying we are ambitious, but I am positive that next month will be a different story.

Are you or have you tried living on one paycheck as a means to save more effectively and efficiently? Do you have any tips for us?

 

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