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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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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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