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Thinking of compromising on your lifestyle as a couple to save a few extra bucks?
o need for that.
It’s probably the only move if you consider all of life’s financial unpleasantries including stagnant salaries, inflation, increased living standards, and so on.
All couples in the middle class (well, most of them anyway) are in pursuit of a precise balance between enjoying each day as it comes and having something stashed away for a rainy day.
The following are a few useful tips on how you can work together as a couple to save some extra dough:
1. Cut Back on Your Monthly Spending and Set Financial Goals
When it comes to how you use your money, establish some solid goals – both personal and collective. You should have discussions around where your money is going every month.
Being able to account for every dime is the first step in solidifying your financial security. Identify certain goods, services or redundant expenses in general that may be draining you of your funds without you even noticing.
You may find that you’re either paying for the same thing or you’re neglecting plenty of expenses. Have a sit-down with your significant other and work out what you need and leave out what you don’t.
The point of having healthy financial discussions as a couple is to ensure you share similar priorities when it comes to money matters.
Come up with your own goals as they come up with theirs. Bring them together and decide on where you wish to allocate each of your funds.
That will make it rather simple to skip one meal once you know that you’re saving to something beneficial – one that you’re both on board with. While setting your goals, make sure that they’re neither too hard or too easy.
You’re most likely to achieve your highest point of motivation when you keep them realistic and challenging. By being committed to achieving what you’ve put down, you’ll find the perseverance and motivation you need.
Make sure to monitor your progress as you go. Goal setting becomes most effective once there’s feedback that shows how far you’ve saved collectively and how much more’s left.
2. Take Turns Preparing Meals at Home
Better yet, make it even more fun by cooking together. The whole point of making your own meals is to spend little to nothing on outside eateries.
If you think you’re saving money by eating out at cheap restaurants, it’s best you know that they also hike their prices by a whopping 300%.
When you think of it, it doesn’t really make sense parting with amounts that high for something you can easily make at home. You may or may not know this, but cooking at home is ten times more affordable than eating out.
Even with the realization that cooking at home can save a lot of money, some couples choose to eat out owing to the ‘hectic’ grocery shopping experience.
How you shop for your groceries matters a great deal. Sometimes, buying items in bulk can save you a lot. It only becomes a good deal if most of what you buy doesn’t end up in your trash can.
If none of you is into Asian food, there’s no point in buying an entire gallon jug of soy sauce.
A busy schedule shouldn’t be reason enough to spend every other night out munching on expensive dishes. Savvy planning is key.
Decide to divvy up the burden of taking turns to make dinner – supposing you both work during the day. You can cook on Sundays, Mondays, and Wednesdays while your significant other takes up Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Take Friday and Saturday off to either cook together or splurge at a restaurant.
Draw up a menu for meals you’ll be having on specific days, stop by the grocery store and buy all the relevant ingredients. In case you have an insatiable craving for a particular meal, make it known to the designated chef or cook it yourself on your turn.
3. Use Apps to Track Your Expenditures
One of the most stressful parts of any relationship is co-managing finances. While you insist on taking a vacation that’s 100% budget friendly, your partner could be keen on splurging.
Then again, while you’re willing to survive on beans and rice to pay off debt, your partner wants to go out for dinner every other night. Disagreeing on ‘critical’ issues like these can lead to increased fights and emotional unrest.
Lucky for you, technology can help the two of you a great deal in managing your finances with little ease. The following are a couple of the best apps you and your partner can use to maximize your financial responsibility:
This app helps couples manage their shared domestic finances by tracking bills, looking at accounts in one place, commenting on transactions and establishing big-picture goals.
The purpose of this is to help couples to be as open about how they spend their finances as possible. That will go a long way in helping them stay focused on goals they set in place keep disagreements at bay.
Though it’s not entirely a financial app, Any.do does a good job of managing bills and domestic expenditures. It has a fairly simple and unique design that makes it easy to view and edit all the tasks that need to be accomplished.
Tasks are categorized into those that need to be done today, tomorrow and in future.
Keep your partner in the loop by adding them to a task and activating notifications on your end and theirs as well. Just like that, chores around the home can be completed fast and easy.
If you’re aware of the envelope system of managing funds, you’ll have a clear understanding of using this app. It basically puts the envelope system right into a synced app for couples to see how much they can share in a certain spending category.
Better Haves allows you to view your shared finances in one place. It tells you how much you have left both as a couple as well as in each individual ‘envelope’.
Shared envelopes should be used for household stuff while individual envelopes can be used for personal spending.
When you’re out grocery shopping, it seems almost impossible to keep up with all the items you’re supposed to buy. Shopping without a list at hand can easily wreck your budget.
With Grocery, you can get rid of the shopping frustration by allowing your partner to sync your list of items, view them and make the necessary changes.
Rather than texting them a full list of all the missing items in the house, include it in their list on the app and they can grab the necessary items while they’re at the store.
4. Establish a Pension Plan
Are you a newly married couple? Then you probably have a ton of financial planning to do; a college fund, dream house, vacation fund, kids’ school fees, etc.
At times, it’s very easy to ignore or overlook planning for your collective retirement. This shouldn’t be the case for you. If you understand each others’ expectations, needs, and goals, then the golden years might ultimately be the best for your marriage.
You’re both responsible for your retirement. As you collectively decide on which financial decisions to make, so should you make the savings together.
If your significant other isn’t participating in a 401(k), consider meeting your mutual goals by adding a little more pre-tax income to your plan. If your spouse works outside the home, a spousal IRA should be your next option.
Couples have a good chance of maximizing their lifetime social security income by simply timing their spousal and individual claims. This should be done in the right way.
This kind of planning should be done based on how old you are, how old your spouse is and the age of your claim. How much you’ll need in retirement will also depend on your stage in life.
If you’re certain you can make a budget work with a portion of your current income, share your plans with your spouse. Aligning your plans with theirs will help both of you in setting a more realistic plan.
5. Go on Less Expensive Dates
As tempting as it may be to visit that fancy movie or restaurant at the mall, doing these has a way of eating into your savings. Date nights don’t have to be as expensive as you think.
Here are a few ideal examples of low-budget romantic date ideas to keep your romance – and savings – alive:
Go Hiking Together
The trail you take may make the experience either challenging or relaxing. If you’re up for something more romantic, go for hikes that involve scenic overlooks or waterfall. Most of them are free.
Going for a romantic picnic in the park has been the best date idea since time immemorial. Prepare some easy-to-make dishes along with suitable beverages and head on to your local park for the perfect daylight date.
Visit Organized Outdoor Events
Consider visiting outdoor events like meet and greet cocktails, outdoor cinema night, etc. Most of the time, these events are either free or quite affordable.
Keep It Simple
Don’t waste hundreds of dollars on seeing a movie on the big screen. Enjoy each other’s company from the comfort of your living room with organized theme nights such as Movie Mondays (complete with homemade popcorn), Bonfire Fridays, and so on.
It may come across as an uninspired option, but it’s perfect if you’ve exhausted all your date ideas. At Groupon, you can find all the best deals from horseback riding, rock climbing, or bungee jumping.
Quality time with your partner should be as free as it gets. In 2016, it was reported that the average couple spent slightly over $1500 on dates. This is a clear indication that people (mostly men) are inclined to spend more on a one-night date.
The five tips mentioned above coupled with other thrifty ways to have a cheap date are all you need in your bid to save a few bucks. These ideas will work just great, regardless of whether you’re going out on your first or fiftieth date.
6. Rather Than Buy Gifts, Make Them Yourselves
Fortunately or otherwise, love is nowadays expressed with high-end gifts that will cost an arm and a leg. Couples go out of their way to get their partners the perfect gift for their anniversaries, as a Christmas/Valentine’s gift, or as just a show of affection.
The best and most frugal way to gift your loved one would be to design and make one from scratch. Most people love something that’s made straight from the heart – no matter how bad the end result is.
Holiday season or not, it will cost you nothing to get in touch with your creative side.
If you’re into baking stuff, bake your partner a pie, cake, cookie or bread. The ingredients you’ll use to make any of these will most likely be a lot affordable compared to buying the finished product at your nearest bakery.
Alternatively, you can treat them out to an unforgettable day/night out. What most people don’t know is moments spent with their soul mates are worth more than the costliest of gifts.
Surprise them by taking them to the beach, holding a picnic at a scenic and serene location, spend the day at an amusement park, the list is endless. Activities like these are perfect for any holiday season.
From writing a song to compiling memorable videos or starting a collage, the ways of making homemade gifts are practically endless. Taking huge debts or spending a fortune to impress someone is nothing close to romantic.
You wouldn’t want to look at that same gift and think ‘why did I buy it in the first place?’ Keep your expenses in line and your savings in check by taking the easier option of making something you’ll have no regrets about in the future.
7. Sharing a Roof? Consider Getting a Shared Lease
If you’re living under the same roof with your partner without your name on the lease, you’ll most likely be homeless once your relationship comes to a close.
Considering they’re the official tenant, the home is lawfully theirs even though you pay most of the bills and rent. It’s important that both of your names appear on the lease.
Go a step further and draft a cohabitation agreement indicating how much you and your partner put in for the rent and needs. It could otherwise state that one of you gives the other financial support.
This will go a long way in ensuring legal protection in the event that your relationship comes to a tragic end.
This will also give the landlord/landlady reason enough to lower the rent. What homeowners expect from their tenants is stability.
Offer that to them by signing a two-year agreement rather than the stipulated six or twelve months. The extra money from the rent can go directly into your savings account.
If your partner were to stop paying their agreed share of rent while living in the house, they will be held responsible. If you’re both okay with one of you paying for the rent, make sure to get the agreement notarized.
The other’s earnings that would go to the rent can be deposited into your joint savings account. At this point, it’s worth mentioning that using credit cards to pay your rent is a big no-no.
There’s a huge chance that credit card companies might hit you with cash back or mileage rewards. That might hurt your overall credit score, leading to added credit card debt, which isn’t something you don’t want to risk especially while you’re both trying as much as you can to save.
8. Figure Out How to Tackle Your Shared Debts First
Everyone from all walks of life has a certain level of debt on their heads. Individually, it may not be much of a huge deal. As a couple, however, tackling shared debt may prove to be rather precarious.
If you find yourself in such a situation, start by making a list of your debts, followed by your interest rates, and finally the due minimum amounts.
Make a collective effort to clear off all the small balances first. That will be great for several reasons; for one, when you eventually clear off the minor debts, you’ll have a certain strategy to follow in clearing the bigger ones.
Additionally, you can use the money you used in paying off the minor debts in taking care of the remaining debts.
Therefore, if you have debts that are particularly similar in terms of the amount owed, you can use that money to clear the one with a significantly higher interest rate.
This process should be repeated until you successfully pay off all your dues. Once this goal is accomplished, keep setting aside the money you’ve successfully used in becoming debt-free to kickstart your goals for the long term.
Even if you decide to save until you both get to your golden years, you can rule out debt as one of your limiting factors.
9. Go Mystery Shopping Together
If you make money as a mystery shopper, tag your spouse along and save as much as you make.
If you’re both willing to regularly stop by various establishments, evaluate certain products/services and offer your opinion, there are loads of legit opportunities for you to make extra cash.
During date nights, that would probably be the best time to go mystery shopping. As mystery shoppers, cutting back on your expenses can be fairly daunting. That’s why you should start by looking for the best deals from supermarkets everywhere.
Different supermarkets offer generic food brands while retailers only offer seasonal sales. Utilize these deals and save as much as you can. Generic goods are often more affordable.
You can also save money as a mystery shopper by taking the earliest opportunity to sign up for a 401(k). This is basically a retirement savings option that will require a certain pre-tax amount from your paycheck.
The same amount will be deposited into a separate account and as time goes by, the money will continue to grow. If you’re a couple in your twenties, don’t waste any more time. You’ll do yourself a big favor by investing in this unique opportunity.
It’s recommended that you invest ten percent of your every paycheck. If neither of you has a 401(k) nor a full-time employer, just create your own savings account. Ensure you’re diligent in depositing a fair amount at the end of each month.
10. It Always Comes Down to Having a Steady Budget
When it’s all said and done, having a steady budget is key to having successful savings. Once you’ve determined how much you spend each month, list down the expenses and allocate a certain amount for you and your partner.
This should be done putting into consideration your monthly earnings and what you can do to generate more. The one that earns more will need to get a higher allocation of the items on the budget.
It can be really difficult saving especially if you have no idea where the money you work for every month goes. Take time (about a month or two) to track your spending and log each of your expenses and purchases.
It’s difficult shifting from a personal mindset of sorting out your financial needs to taking care of your spouse’s and your own. As you take time to discuss and plan your budget, point out and address all underlying issues.
There are four steps to follow when coming up with a joint budget:
- Determine how much you spend every month
- Set goals for the long term
- Make your personal needs known to your partner
- Create a weekly budget meeting.
If the need arises, seek professional counseling to help both of you adapt to the changes in your financial system. You could also make use of the numerous budget apps that make it easier to stay on track.
Money is the most important resource any couple can ever have. Unfortunately, research has shown that individuals in a steady relationship today find it most difficult to save money.
Most of them are still working to clear their college loans and mortgages. You may be among the unlucky few whose salary gets exhausted as fast as it lands in your bank account but applying these tips could be the ultimate game changer.