Discussing money and finances as a couple can be difficult, but it should be a priority on the way to setting up a secure financial future. In many relationships, money is a leading source of conflict. Whether you are a new couple or a singleton, it is important to examine the role money is playing in our relationships. Here are 10 tips and strategies to improve your financial situation:
10 Strategies for Improving Finances
Be honest. While dating, it’s exciting and fun to spoil each other with expensive gifts or nights on the town. Overtime, expenses add up leading to a lot of regret and stress. It’s important to sit down and realistically examine if we can afford to do an activity or if spending coincides with our long term goals. As a couple, be upfront and talk about finances, goals, and dreams together. This will help us be more meaningful with spending so we won’t jeopardize our futures.
Avoid paying late fees. We have all had to juggle bills at one time or another, but paying late fees can ruin monthly budgets, low interest rates, and even credit scores. We owe it to ourselves to be current on our bills. If necessary, consider using automatic payments or email alerts to remind you of upcoming due dates. All of those $30 fees add up and late payments wreak havoc on interest rates paid on credit cards.
Create an emergency fund. Life happens, a lot. Cars break down, furnaces malfunction, people get sick, and surprises are around every bend. Most money experts suggest making it a priority to set aside at least $1,000 to handle these unexpected situations.
Sell unwanted items. Most of us have too much stuff. Today, a lot of our vintage and rustic treasures hiding in our closets, homes, and garages are worth a surprising sum. Take advantage of online sale sites, garage sales, and consignment stores to help us minimize and rake in some extra cash to help build that emergency fund or finance a couple’s getaway.
Pay off credit cards and debts. Many of us have been taught we need credit cards for emergencies or to build credit scores. Unfortunately, we often fall into the credit card trap and begin owing more money than we can easily repay. Overtime, this amount only snowballs as they add high interest rates and fees. Soon, there is no easy way out and we feel overwhelmed. Make it a priority to tackle these debts starting with our lowest balances and work our way up. When we have one card at a zero balance, rollover that payment onto the next card to keep up the momentum. With a little hard work and perseverance, we will eventually whittle down our debts.
Start meal planning. It’s no secret that it’s easy to grab take out on busy nights, but these impromptu meals are expensive and take a toll on our health. Instead of relying on drive thru, create a weekly meal plan. Take advantage of crock pots, instant pots, and leftovers. A few minutes planning and prepping will help us be more intentional with our grocery budgets and time, helping us reclaim our evenings and wasted money.
Evaluate insurance plans. Car, homeowner, and health insurance each take a big chunk out of our paychecks every month. Shop around for different policies and get price quotes from competing insurance companies to see if you can save money.
Ditch unnecessary expenses. Sort through statements to examine our spending habits and monthly fees. Maybe, we are paying $100 a month for cable, but rarely watch television? Look at costs and evaluate if we need to pay for these pricey services. Could we subscribe to a cheaper streaming service or watch our favorite shows for free online?
Upgrade appliances. A major portion of our living expenses often goes toward high electric and utility bills. As our microwaves, dishwashers, and other appliances wear out, replace them with energy efficient upgrades. And don’t forget the pool! Pool pumps and filters are responsible for a quarter of all energy usage in a home. Over time, these new appliances will allow us to save money without worrying about keeping the lights on.
Take advantage of a job’s benefits. Most employers offer perks and benefits for free or little cost. Look at your 401(k) plans, health savings, or flexible spending account to see if you might be losing valuable ways to save money. Some companies even offer commuter benefits, fitness reimbursement programs, car rental upgrades, and occasional admissions to theme parks or sporting events. See what is available and take advantage of these opportunities.
How do you improve your finances as a couple? We want to hear from you!