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It’s common in many Filipino households to have a single breadwinner. If you’re the one fulfilling this role for your family, then you know it’s not an easy situation. It takes a lot of hard work and selflessness, sometimes even to the point of putting your dreams on hold.
However, it doesn’t have to be one or the other—your family or yourself. It’s true that it’s difficult to be the breadwinner, but you don’t have to feel as if your hands are tied. Here are some tips so you can continue supporting your family without having to give up your personal aspirations:
Prepare a Budget and Follow It
No matter your marital status and earning capabilities, having a budget and staying on top of your finances is important. It just becomes more crucial when you’re the sole provider for your family. As the breadwinner, you need to know how much money you have, where all of it is going, and why. If you can answer these questions confidently, good! If not, you need to get started on proper budgeting ASAP.
The first thing you have to do is to determine your assets and liabilities. How much are you earning in a month? Do you have more than one stream of income? How much of your money are you spending to pay for debts? How much are you setting aside for your savings and investments? Take note of all the details so you can get a clearer picture of your financial standing and use that as a guide to preparing an in-depth weekly, monthly, and even yearly budget.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Preparing a budget can be challenging. Following it to the letter can feel even more difficult. Luckily, there are a lot of tools that you can use to make things a little easier. One good example is an e-wallet, which you can use to pay bills, send loved ones money, and even settle your government dues. You can also use e-wallets to buy mobile data and prepaid load so you can always keep in touch.
Other helpful tools in budgeting include personal finance apps, which often come with reminder features to help you keep up with your due dates. You can also use a spreadsheet app, with macros and formula to make filling out the cells and computing the values so much easier. Even your smartphone, with its calendar and alarm functions, can serve as your budgeting companion.
Get Insured and Invest
When you’re the breadwinner of your family, you have to be prepared for everything. This includes getting hospitalized or passing away due to accidents or illnesses. It can be a little morbid to think about, but being prepared for any eventuality means your loved ones won’t suffer financially if something bad happens.
One good way to prepare is to get life insurance. Consult with a financial advisor about which product is the best one for you; ideally, you should pick one that comes with coverage for critical illness and debilitating injuries. Variable unit-linked life insurance or VUL is also popular, so you can invest and grow your money with your insurance.
Remember also to list all your dependents as your insurance beneficiaries. They could either be revocable or irrevocable. The former means there will be tax deductions from the payout but you can update the beneficiary list at any time; the latter means the payout is tax-free but you need to secure the beneficiaries’ consent before making changes. If your beneficiaries are minors, you need to appoint a guardian until they turn 18.
Talk to Your Family and Set Boundaries
It doesn’t matter if you’re earning just slightly above minimum wage or six figures every month—you need to be clear with your family members about your financial situation. Set boundaries and remind everyone that they also have responsibilities. The key here is to be honest and straightforward.
Don’t sugarcoat things just to make your family feel better. If you need help in supplementing the household income, tell them. If your siblings or children keep on asking for new gadgets or toys that you can’t afford, say so; even if you can, don’t agree until you’ve assessed all the pros and cons to your budget. Remind your family (and yourself) that you’re only human and that you have limits.
Allocate Money for Yourself
Speaking of limits, keep in mind that before you can take care of others, you have to take care of yourself first. Don’t sacrifice your health for the sake of earning a few more thousand pesos. Sure you have health and life insurance, but isn’t it better if you can enjoy more years with your family and have time to pursue your dreams?
Remember that being the breadwinner doesn’t mean that you should forget about yourself. Spend some time to relax and don’t feel guilty about an occasional treat. As you set aside money for expenses, insurance, investments, and emergency funds, don’t forget to allocate a budget for your own well-being and future. Live your own life!
It’s a big responsibility to be a breadwinner, but it’s also not impossible nor does it have to be too hard. Keep these tips in mind and remember that you can support your family and fulfill your dreams at the same time.
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