How we save money, how we structure our budget and any other finance questions tend to be some of my most popular questions these days! I do want to stress personal finance is just that: personal. What we do to save money, may not work for you. Everyone has different goals, a different income, different debt or perhaps no debt, the list goes on. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach for finance but we are very excited to share five easy ways we save money as a couple!
1. REVIEW YOUR BANK & CREDIT CARD STATEMENTS
Making sure you are 100 percent aware of exactly how much money you spend each month is essential. I know when we make small purchases, they feel like just that: small. However, if you think about it, 10 $100 purchases are $1000 and that isn’t necessarily small. Get in the habit of breaking down your statement to see what goes toward necessities (bills, rent, groceries) and what is going toward things you want (clothes, home decor, etc.)
The whole point of this is to really see how much you make versus how much you spend. Ideally, you don’t want to spend more than you make so lets kee the debt to income ratio in check. I personally try to keep unnecessary spending below 30 or 20 percent on average. As we started ramping up to save for the house and then furnishing it, I slashed this number to around 15. I say around because Johnny and I never tell ourselves to stick to a certain percent. We just exercise self-control when it comes to impulse shopping.
Another big reason to review your statements monthly is to check for fraudulent charges.
2. CUTTING EXPENSES
You’re going to have to be bullish when it comes to cutting expenses, especially if you’re trying to save for a purchase. When Johnny and I started really cutting down on spending for the house (we started in November) we easily stopped eating out, stopped buying excess snacks, I stopped buying clothes unless it was absolutely necessary, etc. You have to be very brutal when you need to save money. For us, this is one of the five easy ways we save money as a couple. A few of my favorite tactical things you can do to cut expenses include:
- Drink water when you eat out
- Get an appetizer and split an entree
- Make your own coffee (we love this cold brew maker)
- Order groceries online at Walmart that way you don’t overbuy or get tempted in the aisles
- Shop around for utilities including gas, electricity and internet to get the best price
- Double-check you aren’t renting your router from your internet company. It’s usually better to buy it outright
- Sell clothes or items you don’t want or no longer need. You’d be surprised how much you can make!
3. BUILD A BUDGET
I know the word budget can be daunting or feel like you’re really restricting yourself. It doesn’t have to be! I like to think of it as investing in yourself. After checking your bank accounts, credit card statements and really familiarize yourself with how much you make compared to how much you spend, build a budget. Personal finance is just that – personal. How much you need to save depends on your goals and what you’d like to do. Johnny and I prefer to keep our housing costs below 30% of our income, then we aggressively save almost all the rest. If you’re unsure how you should divvy up your budget, talk to a financial advisor.
4. INVEST IN YOURSELF
Every month, Johnny and I sweep our “regular” bank accounts and transfer money into a high-yield savings account. We love Betterment and SoFi for both short-term and long-term. Betterment has an account where you can easily transfer money back and forth and you don’t get punished for withdrawing money at any time. I call this investing in yourself or even paying yourself. Plus, it’s important to automate any transfers for savings so you get that money out of your account before you spend it. Pretend it doesn’t exist and don’t make excuses to withdraw it.
5. KEEP EACH OTHER ACCOUNTABLE
You both are in this together. Be patient, be compassionate but be firm when it comes to accountability. I recommend apps such as Mint or Digit to help you really see exactly how much you are spending, saving and to also automate tucking away money for saving! Don’t be afraid to ask the other person, “Hey, I thought we agreed no more coffee runs?” or “Weren’t we supposed to cancel cable this month?” If you don’t hold the other person accountable, especially when it’s your partner, it’ll be hard to save money as a couple.