Today's post is by an awesome new friend, Jeff, from DollarSprout. Jeff makes learning about money fun and exciting, so you'll definitely want to check out his website!
It’s no secret that money is a point of contention in many relationships. In fact, a survey found that cohabitating couples argue about money three times a month, on average.
The best way to avoid these conflicts is to make sure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to your finances.
If you’re spending more than your bank accounts can handle, you’re going to have a serious issue. Fighting over money is no fun, which is why it’s important to learn how you can save money in a relationship.
And likewise, save your sanity.
Talk About Money
Communication is key to every aspect of a relationship, especially when it comes to money.
Discussing your finances openly may seem daunting if you grew up in a family where money was never talked about or was even considered taboo. It can feel uncomfortable and embarrassing, but getting financially naked with your partner is one of the best things you can do for your relationship.
Set up regular meetings to discuss your short-term and long-term financial goals, plan future spending, and analyze past spending.
Use this as a time to talk about your beliefs and habits regarding money. Are you a spender? Is your partner a saver? How does this impact your relationship?
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Create a Budget
That’s right, I just said the B word.
The best way to stay ahead of your finances is to plan ahead. That’s basically what budgeting is – planning how to spend your money before you actually spend it. And it’s especially important if you and your partner have combined your finances.
Your budget can be as intertwined or as separated, as simple or complicated as you want it to be.
All you really need to do is talk about which expenses are shared, which are separate, and who pays how much for what.
If you want to take it a step further, talk about your goals as a couple and the role money plays in achieving them.
For example, if you want to take a two-week backpacking trip through Europe next summer, how much money do you need to save? Will you save together or separately? How much will each person contribute?
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Combine Your Finances (or Don’t)
This is where it gets tricky. Some say share everything, others say share nothing.
I say: do what’s best for your relationship.
I see many couples choose a hybrid method: having a joint checking account for shared bills (rent, internet, utilities, etc.), but the rest of your money goes to individual savings and checking accounts.
Is this the best method for every couple? Probably not. The most important thing is to respect each other’s boundaries.
Talk to your partner about what you’re each comfortable with and whether combining your finances is the right move for your relationship.
Skip Gifts During the Holidays
Why do you purchase gifts for your partner during the holidays? Is it because you really wanted to give a present to your loved one, or because it’s that time of year and you feel obligated to buy something because that’s what the retail industry encourages us to do?
Most retailers mark up prices on major holidays, like Valentine’s Day, for example. It may be nice to get your loved ones flowers or chocolates, but is it worth the extra expense?
Think of alternative ways to show your partner some appreciation, like cleaning the house or offering them a massage.
Skipping gifts during the holidays can also allow you the opportunity to surprise one another with treats throughout the year. When is the last time you bought gifts just because?
Now that’s real thoughtfulness.
If you find this idea a little wacko or you and your partner don’t see eye to eye here, then try a gift budget instead. Set a maximum amount for each person to spend on the other.
This way, you can account for the expense in advance and still splurge on a gift without worrying about spending too much (or too little).
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Use Side Hustles as a “Fun Fund” or for Extra Savings
Rather than cutting out your entertainment budget, try working for it. Pick up a side hustle and dedicate your extra earnings to a joint fund.
This can mean saving for a sweet couple’s vacation with your beau, paying for your weekly date nights, or whatever it is you enjoy doing together.
There many ways you can earn extra money in your spare time, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Get paid to take surveys while you Netflix
- Rent out a spare bedroom on AirBnb
- Drive with Uber
- Tutor with Chegg or Wyzant
- Start a blog
These ideas (and other online side hustles) can earn you at least a few hundred dollars a month – or more — depending on which you choose and how hard you’re willing to work.
I used to love filling out surveys for fun while watching my dog run around like a nut. I ended up earning enough each month to buy a few books and some dinners out.
And if you don’t end up spending the extra cash, put it in straight into your joint savings!
When you’re single, it’s easy to justify ordering takeout. Why spend all that time cooking for just yourself? Half of it’s going to waste, anyway.
But in a relationship, eating at home suddenly becomes more appealing.
Home-cooked meals can cut a nice chunk from your budget, freeing up cash for the important things, like matching pajamas for you and your pooch.
But seriously, dining in can be a fun, healthy, and romantic way to save money as a couple. Bonus points because you get to spend quality time together doing it.
Tip: Cushion is an app that refunds bank and credit card fees. You can expect refunds on things like late fees, overdraft fees, monthly service fees, account maintenance fees, ATM fees, credit card interest charges, late fees, and more!
Turn Saving Into a Game
Working together makes things run a lot smoother in any relationship. Instead of being stressed out about cutting corners here and there, turn saving into a game!
Keep tabs to see how much each of you can save. Not only will it motivate you to save, but it’ll also help train your mind to seek out opportunities to be smarter with your money.
Turning saving money into a game makes it feel more fun and less like a chore.
Don’t let money ruin an otherwise awesome relationship.
You don’t have to agree with your partner on everything money-related. However, you do have to be open to one another’s opinions and willing to work together to achieve your financial goals.
A strain on your budget is a strain on your relationship. There are plenty of other things to fight with your partner about (like who gets the last Oreo).
Don’t let money be one of them.
Your Turn: How do you and your partner handle your finances? What are your favorite tips for saving money in a relationship?
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