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Here’s What To Do When A Spender And Saver Marry

Here’s What To Do When A Spender And Saver Marry

I’m a big saver; always have been, always will be. It’s how I was raised, it’s how I was able to be unemployed for six months and travel continuously, then come back to my hometown and buy a house. My fiance got out of the service and had to start from the ground up. In a way, it was nice that he had to start from scratch because my money mindset influenced him greatly – I’m not being big-headed, he’s said this himself, along with a thank you! After being steadily employed for six months, he’s now started putting money away in a savings account as well as helping out with household bills and prepping for our upcoming baby! I’m immensely proud of him and can tell he’s proud of himself, but it wasn’t an easy road getting to this point… Here are some tips on what you can do when a spender and saver marry.

First, we had to set budgets.

I was handling a bunch of bills on my own, but after my fiance moved in, we split everything. That means we both had to budget for shared expenses like the house payment, groceries, utilities, and surprise household purchases that pop up. We each had to think of what we needed, like paying our cell phone bills, car insurance, and gas. You’d think that splitting bills would mean there’s even more money to spend on fun and entertainment, but that wasn’t the case!

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We were also paying for a midwife and all the things that a new baby will need, while putting aside money for savings. That means we had to think long and hard about what we “needed” outside of the real necessities. We love just being together, so going out wasn’t something we felt we needed to spend money on. Every once in awhile we’d splurge at the grocery store to make a gourmet meal at home, but that was basically it.

We borrow library books and movies instead of buying them new, go for walks around the neighborhood instead of window shopping in a mall, and shop at thrift stores for the things we need. You’ll find that, if you really think about it, you don’t truly need much – society and expendable income just make you think you do.

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Secondly, we rewarded our progress.

It may make me sound big-headed and condescending, but it’s not meant to – every time my fiance puts money in his savings account or makes a smart spending choice, I praise him. I do it genuinely, not sarcastically, because I’m so proud of how far he’s come so quickly. I know how hard it is to change your mindset on something as serious as money, and I love that he’s putting away savings for himself and our family.

We also reward ourselves every month or so by doing something fun, if we’ve kept our bills down and already put something aside. Like I said above, we splurge with nice food from the grocery and enjoy a good meal together. Sometimes we’ll buy fun art supplies and make something together, because we get to spend that time together and then have something gorgeous to display in our home. After we got our tax refund, we splurged on a luxurious trip, since we’re usually such homebodies. You have to be careful with rewards because it’s so easy to overspend, so make sure you’re still keeping a budget even for the fun side of things!

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We continuously set purchase goals.

As homeowners, we have unexpected major expenses. We had to get a new refrigerator a couple months ago, and we’re not entirely sure how much longer our rickety old washer and dryer will hold out. We’re both healthy and don’t require much medically, but we know with a new baby, we’re going to have some medical expenses we haven’t thought of. We’ve been putting money into savings to have “just in case”, but we also realize that this money might have to be used for more boring – uh, I mean practical – expenses. We keep an eye on the numbers in our savings accounts and make sure we have enough to buy what we might need, without splurging on the coolest washer and dryer (is there such thing??) and blowing too much money.

Featured photo credit: 401(K) 2012 via flickr.com

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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