With inflation, rising interest rates, stagnant salaries, an increased standard of living and all the other financial unpleasantness in life, it is impossible to not have to put yourself on a budget.
Middle class couples all over the world are struggling to find a balance between living a comfortable life and having something left in the bank for a rainy day.
The importance of money in our lives
Whether you are single, in a relationship, or raising a family, there is no denying that money is one of the most important things to have in life. It will either make or break the life plans that you have set out for yourself and your loved ones.
Research has proven that young couples today find it harder to set money aside than those from previous generations. This comes as no surprise as the financial system and the way the world operates is not the same as it did years ago.
I for one am sure that my parents had it easier back in the day. By 26, they were homeowners, had secured well paying jobs and had just started a family. Couples from my generation can only dream of owning property and other assets at 26!
Many of my peers are still struggling to pay off their college loans, let alone even think about buying a home and padding their bank accounts with money. The sad reality is that the money that comes in every month flows right out before the next month even rolls around.
We can blame the system, we can blame the government, we can blame the world. Heck, we can even blame ourselves, but at the end of the day, money is short and precious and something must be done. [Read: The importance of money in love and happiness]
17 easy ways to start saving money as a couple
Not wanting to miss out on life’s conventions like getting married, buying a place and raising a family, couples the world over are coming up with clever ways to save money without compromising on life’s little luxuries.
Even with combined incomes, sometimes, it is just not possible to have it all. Here are 17 brilliant yet simple ways to save some money as a couple in a bid to become financially secure.
#1 Make gifts. Why spend hundreds on a conventional gift when you can make or do something that comes straight from the heart? Sadly, we have grown up in a world where every holiday is marked with the act of expensive gift giving. From Valentine’s Day to birthdays to Christmas and Hanukkah, to anniversaries, to weddings, the heart and soul of these special days have been overshadowed by gifts.
When did we start accepting that the bigger and more expensive the gift, the deeper the love? Gifts that come from the heart matter more that those made and assembled in China. Whether it is starting a collage from scratch, writing a song, making something by hand, or compiling videos and pictures from friends and family around the world to create one epic birthday video, save money by making, not buying gifts. [Read: 25 really romantic ideas to make your lover melt]
#2 Cook more. Another clever way to save money is to cook instead of eating out. Even the cheapest of restaurants mark up their cost prices by over 300%. Does it make sense to pay that much to eat something that can be easily prepared at home?
Also remember to stay away from fast food because as cheap and quick as they are, you will have to pay the price not too far down the road through your doctor’s bills. Eat healthy by cooking at home. If you are constantly pressed for time, google “30-minute meals”, “healthy pasta dishes” or “one dish dinners” for some simple yet healthy ideas.
You can also opt to cook several different dishes over the weekend then freeze and store them to be consumed throughout the week.
#3 Go generic. Another way to save money as a couple is to go generic. Most of the time, there is not much of a difference in quality when it comes to branded items and generic products. This is especially true for non-perishables like paper towels, dish sponges, light bulbs, liquid hand soap, oven cleaner, and other everyday household items.
Save on your grocery bill by going generic instead of splurging on brands. Nowadays, even generic brands offer green products so you need not worry about hurting the environment just because you want to save money.
#4 Go green. Literally go green. Save money on decorative items like expensive scented candles, ornaments and other pricey knick-knacks. Buy plants instead. There are plenty of indoor plants that will serve as gorgeous decorative pieces. Many of these plants reproduce easily so all you need to do is nip and repot them as and when you want.
Some examples are the money plant and English ivy. Head to discount stores to buy affordable pots and vases. You will literally be breathing fresh air into your home with these natural beauties.
#5 Entertain at home. Maintaining a social life is tough to do on a budget. Factor in gas, parking, dinner and drinks and you are bound to be out hundreds of dollars by the end of the night. Save money by entertaining at home. Host a get together with friends and request for each person or couple to bring a dish and a bottle of wine. Organize theme nights like Margarita Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Wine Wednesdays and so on. [Read: 13 very romantic dinner date ideas for two]
#6 Track your money. The most straightforward way for a couple to save money is to keep track of every single expenditure. From groceries to how much gas was pumped that week, write everything down. Allocate a compartment in your wallet for receipts and compile them with your spouse’s at the end of the week.
Write everything down and calculate how much you spend every month. It will be easier to figure out what you can cut back on when everything is neatly laid out in front of you. If you are not a receipt-saving kind of person, download an application on your phone and remember to key in what you spend.
#7 Allocate a budget. Once you have determined how much you spend on surviving every month, lay down the law and allocate a sensible budget for each person. You will be surprised at how much willpower you have once you know just how much you are allowed to spend every week. This will help you cut back on unnecessary spending as you will think twice about whether you really need that second tool box, or the thousandth pair of stockings.
#8 Create realistic goals. Sit down with your partner and talk about creating a realistic savings plan. By right, you should be putting aside at least 20% of your salary towards your savings account. It is understandable if that is impossible to do for now, so you do what you can. No matter how tight your finances are, you always have to set some money aside for a rainy day.
#9 Online discount sites. Sites like Groupon are a god-sent for couples on a budget. Coupons from sites like these give you the chance to indulge in things that you should not be doing when you are trying to save money. Examples include heading for a couple’s massage or dining at a nice restaurant. You need to treat yourself occasionally or life will seem drab and dull. Just remember to do so on a budget.
#10 Travel locally. Although traveling should be out of the question when you are trying to save money as a couple, there is no reason why you cannot do so locally. Heading to a sweet bed and breakfast for a weekend is thousands of dollars cheaper than buying round trip plane tickets to the Maldives. There is no reason why you should withhold yourself from traveling and enjoying yourself if you are on a budget.
You simply have to conform your destination to how much you are able to spend. Traveling locally or during off peak seasons are genius ways to keep the travel bug in your life without breaking the bank.
#11 Cut cable. Why bother paying for expensive cable when you can get everything online? Save money by getting rid of cable television. With streaming and downloading made easy, there is absolutely no need to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year on dozens of channels with nothing good on anyway. Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix are amazing alternatives to conventional cable television and to be honest, are much more exciting and boast a greater value for money.
#12 Shop in bulk. There is an excellent chance that buying in bulk will save you plenty of money on a yearly basis. Buy non-perishables from warehouse sales and bulk grocery stores like Costco. Items like toilet paper, paper towels, shower gel, laundry detergent, toothpaste, tampons and other goods that you need year round can and should be bought in bulk to save money.
#13 Enjoy the little things in life. They say that the best things in life are free and there is no better time to put this theory to the test than when you are on a budget. You will be surprised at the variety of free things that there are to do in your town. From driving to the outskirts for a day-long hike, to signing up for community recreational classes, there are plenty of things to do for cheap.
Many organizations and groups host events like outdoor cinema night, meet and greet cocktails, and so on. Most of the time, these events are affordable, if not free. Another way that you can spend your time well is by volunteering. Not only is this pastime free, you are also helping others in need. Volunteer at your local animal shelter once a week, or lend a hand at the closest orphanage or retirement home. Nothing beats doing some good for your community.
#14 Get rid of credit cards. Leave your credit cards at home and sign up for debit cards. Even better, only deal in cash when making purchases. Anything else that you want to buy or pay for online can be done using a debit card.
Many couples find themselves deep in debt because they spend more than they make. Think of credit cards as an integral part of a system that was designed to trap you. If you leave your credit cards at home, you are slowly but surely breaking free of that system. Pay off your credit card debts and retire those little plastic menaces as soon as possible. [Read: The guide to elope and yet have the perfect fairytale wedding]
#15 Downgrade your phone plan. Depending on where in the world you are, which company you signed up with and what your phone contract looks like, this step may be easier said than done. However, you should be doing all that you can to find a loophole.
Instead of renewing your pricey contract, switch to pay-on-the-go or a cheaper plan. With applications like Whatsapp, Viber, Line, Skype and Facetime, you no longer need that many minutes or text messages to justify paying such a high phone bill every month.
Switch to something cheaper and connect to Wifi every chance that you get. At the every least, contact your phone company and ask them about loyalty programs and the latest discount packages.
#16 Terminate your gym membership. Unless you have already prepaid for the entire year, one of the first things that you should do as a couple in your bid to save money is to terminate your gym memberships. How often do you go to the gym anyway? Sure, if you are a gym rat and go more than four or five times a week, then it is probably worthwhile to keep the membership.
However, if you find yourself at the gym less than that, terminate the membership immediately as you are truthfully not that motivated about working out anyway. You can easily replace your sporadic gym workouts with running outdoors, signing up for individual classes, heading to the community pool, joining a gym that only requires you to pay each time you go, or working out at home with fitness videos.
#17 Put having children on hold. Every couple who has ever had kids will tell you that having little humans will put a major financial strain on your savings account. If you are trying to find ways to save money, then having kids right now is not a good idea. They are expensive and a lifelong commitment, so unless you know for sure that things are going to look up soon, put your dreams of having kids on hold for now. [Read: 11 clear signs to know if both of you really want a baby!]
Sometimes, it’s the little changes that can make a big difference in the long run. If you and your partner are having a hard time holding on to money by the end of the month, try these 17 brilliant but simple ways to start saving money. It’ll definitely make a difference!
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