Picture perfect: The author, her husband, and their bundles of joy
It was my second pregnancy. I was in for my first ultrasound when the doctor suddenly began laughing while looking at the screen. Finally, she spoke the words that would forever change my life. “You hit lottery jackpot, mommy! You’re going to have twins!” I remember feeling like an ice-cold bucket of water was spilled over my head. The news literally left me shivering with mixed feelings. Excited but worried at the same time: thrilled for the two instant blessings, but anxious because we were financially prepared for only one.
My surprise bundles of joy are now 8 months old. It is true when they say that having twins means everything comes in pairs: double the cheers, double the bills. So amid financial challenges, my family discovered three simple life hacks that made a huge difference in our budget:
- Invest early.
My husband and I got our first investment four years ago. Each of us purchased a VUL (Variable Universal Life Insurance) as a start-up investment because we wanted to make sure that we have income continuity no matter what. Since we were required to pay every quarter, we developed the discipline of saving up a portion of our monthly salary rather than unconsciously spending it all needlessly. Now with 3 kids and two VULs, all we had to do was get one more so that each serves as a fund for every child’s college education.
- Prepare an emergency fund.
After getting our first investment, my husband and I became more interested about financial planning. This was how we learned that the ideal emergency fund is 3 to 6 times our monthly expenses, giving more time to recover when unforeseen circumstances arise. Little by little, in a span of two years, we were able to build our emergency fund. By slowly reducing our debts, we put a small portion of our income and bonuses in a savings account that we vowed to access only when there’s a big emergency situation. Since we were ready for only one baby then, not exactly twins, this fund was immediately put into use. The first month of our babies were spent in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit! Our emergency fund helped us pay off a significant portion of the hospital bill. More importantly, our twins were able to receive the proper care they needed during those delicate times of their lives.
- Be practical.
Lastly, my husband and I tinkered our already tight budget to save MORE money without compromising our quality of life. We realized that why must we worry about budget for infant formula, when breast milk is free (don’t we love that word, “free”) and complete with all the nutrients babies need? With proper information and determination, I made efforts to provide most of my twins’ nourishment with breastfeeding. Doing the math, the money we could save until my twins reach the age of 2 can be used as fund for their primary or secondary education.
Life is indeed full of surprises. I never thought I would be blessed with twins. Since then, my husband and I jokingly tell couples, “When you plan to have a baby, save up for two.” Whether pregnancy is singleton, double, or of any multiple, the vision of a happy family is only wishful thinking if we are not prepared to deal with its reality.
Jet Armenal is a software developer and an insurance advisor. She considers herself an introvert, but loves to join social and outdoor activities especially those for a cause. She loves cooking “pacham” (experimental) food for her family, and she assumes they like her cooking.
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