The wedding was a great success, the honeymoon was straight out of a fairytale, and you are both looking forward to life together. But soon enough the magic wears off and the bills pile up. Before you stress out too much, know you’re not alone. With the state of the economy lately everyone wants to start saving more money. Most newlyweds run into financial headaches at some point in their first year together. With that in mind, I wanted to share a few money saving tips my wife and I have learned along the road to a happy marriage.
Till death do us part
The biggest issue my wife and I faced was commitment. When I wanted to drop the cable to save some money, she wanted to upgrade the package to include more channels. If she wanted to cut grocery costs I’d often insist on name brand products. After a bit of knocking heads we learned our first lesson. Get on the same page, or toss out the book now. You have to both agree what is important and what can be trimmed away in the name of saving money. Be sure to allow for “luxuries” for each of you, like a little money aside for shopping or the aforementioned cable channels. Once you come to the plate together, you set yourselves up for a savings grand slam.
Stop tossing out George
One of the best ways my wife and I found to both cut frivolous spending and save for things we wanted was to stop spending our one dollar bills. Though this sounds a little crazy, we committed to not spend them, but rather keep all of our portraits of Mr. Washington in a jar in my study. Not only does this allow us to save significant amounts each month, it also taught us to ask ourselves “do I really need that?”. For example, I take a daily walk through town and would often stop at the local gas station for a soda. But now that I am not spending, or carrying, one dollar bills that 20 ounce beverage costs me five dollars. Armed with this mindset we both traded in our spending on impulse items for saving money by avoiding needless expenses.
Slip and slash spending
Another thing we learned early on was to analyze what we bought regularly. I keep every receipt I get filed on my desk. At the end of each month I arm myself with a highlighter and dissect the slips. What I’m looking for are foolish purchases, overstocked perishable foods, and anything else we don’t use. By paying attention to what I waste money on each month, I regularly increase my savings.
Dump the Debit
One problem we had early on was using our debit card for purchases, but forgetting to deduct the total from our check registry. Since it is so easy to swipe, we often chose to use our debit card over cash. But I decided that it was too easy, and rather painless, to just slide the card and pop in the pin. So we cut up our card and went back to carrying cash. You’d be amazed at how much more you think about purchases when you have to physically watch the money leave your possession. We make a deposit monthly in our checking account for the exact amount we write in bills. Then we budget in a visible way the leftover cash. This trick has kept us from overdrawing our account, and revealed areas where we wasted money for convenience’s sake. Again we were able to increase the money we saved by a simple lifestyle change.
Expand your cookbook, not your debt
Another place we found we were tossing out money, and our health, was at the drive-thru window. Each month we made half a dozen visits when cooking was inconvenient or we were rushed to make it on time somewhere. In a review of our receipts I discovered we were spending an average of $75 each month, and all due to laziness. Now we make and freeze meals for those time crunch nights, and we stick to our monthly menu to know what to expect each night when it comes time to prepare dinner. Not only are we saving the $75, our overall health will benefit by not eating the grease grenades every week.
I really hope these simple money saving tips have helped you and your spouse take a fresh look at your finances. You don’t have to change your life, but with a few modifications you can save money otherwise wasted before you could even miss it.