Well, Yes… but no. Money matters too.
Do you ever find yourself arguing with your spouse about your finances (again and again)? It’s a pretty common thing that we all experience, and budgeting sometimes seems impossible to get right. At the same time, it’s essential to make the most of your budget, especially when your finances are a little tight.
So, you probably already have some sort of budget that you and your partner have created. Maybe sticking to it is more of the problem for you. Or maybe you find that you’re still spending a little too much even when you are following it. Either way, if you know your budget needs to change but you’re struggling with what that should look like, here are 5 simple ways to improve your budgeting.
Take a look at your dining expenses
We all know that there are some expenses in life that are non-negotiable. Things like rent and insurance are such things that we can’t really make less expensive. They are just expenses that we must pay each month, no matter what. So it’s important to focus on the expenses we have that can be modified, like food!
Of course, we have to buy food. There’s no cutting that out, since we have to eat. But food is a very important area of the budget to look at. It’s something that you can be way overspending on, and maybe not even notice. So, the first step is to take a look at how much you are spending on: 1) groceries and 2) eating out. If you don’t have a set limit on how much you spend or how many times you go out to eat, chances are, you’re probably overspending in this area.
Although it’s not a very fun idea to try to eat out less or lower your grocery bill, it is a good way to lessen your expenses. If you’re noticing that you don’t have as much money left over after expenses each month, try modifying your food spending. This can be done many different ways, and it really depends on you and your spouse. If you find yourselves at a restaurant or getting takeout every day, you can try to cook at home more often. If your grocery bill seems a bit too high, you can try numbers 2 and 5 on this list. So stay tuned!
Change where (and how) you shop
An undoubtedly important factor in your budgeting is, of course, your shopping habits. You’d think it seems obvious that if you need to change your spending to save money, you should just shop less. That does make sense for people that go a little overboard on shopping, but changing where and how you shop can also cut costs. You don’t have to completely quit shopping – there are a few things you can do to make your shopping more affordable.
Whether it’s for groceries, clothes, household items, or just for fun, the amount you spend when shopping depends on where you’re buying from (and of course, how much you buy). It can make a world of difference if you start trying to find the store that offers the best value for your money. It also helps to change how you shop: if you tend to impulsively buy things you don’t really need, try to take a step back and consider things before you purchase. If you find that you shop online when you’re bored, try occupying your time with a new hobby or something that doesn’t cost quite as much.
Check your subscriptions
It can be easy to lose track of what things you are paying for monthly, especially in a time where there are so many kinds of subscriptions available. Movie and TV streaming services, music streaming, and apps are just a few examples of paid subscriptions that you could be signed up for. You or your spouse may sign up for subscriptions that you soon forget about.
Another way to improve your budgeting is to make sure you keep track of any and all recurring payments, like subscriptions. It’s much easier to budget when you account for every purchase, especially the ones that renew every month without you doing anything. If you forget about a certain subscription that you don’t use or need anymore, you could be paying for it each month without realizing. That’s extra money coming out of your bank account that might not need to.
When in doubt, check your subscriptions! Make sure you’re only paying for things that you actually use. This is probably the easiest item on the list, because all you need to do is use an app that tracks your subscriptions for you. There are several kinds of these apps out there, one example being Truebill. Simply download the app and it will find and track all the subscriptions you pay for. Then you can go through and cancel any that you no longer want to pay for. Truebill has many other awesome features to help you budget, save, keep track of your credit score, and more.
Track every purchase
As important as it is to keep track of subscriptions, it’s also essential to track every single purchase you make. This may sound too intense, but once you get into the habit of really paying attention to everything you spend money on, it becomes second nature. This doesn’t mean that you have to physically write it down or put it in a spreadsheet after every purchase you make. That would get a little bit tedious!
You can start by recording how much you spend at the grocery store each week. That way, you can see the numbers throughout the month and know whether you’re on track with your budget or if you’ve overspent. You can do this with any kind of spending you do. It just helps to see how much you’re spending, rather than doing it and not thinking about it all.
Eventually, it will become more natural to think about each purchase you make. When you’re keeping track of everything (even if only in your head), you’ll be less likely to spend and spend without a thought about it. Sometimes it helps to simply be more conscious about your spending.
Download apps that help cut costs
These days, there is quite literally an app for everything. This is especially true for restaurants and stores. Most grocery stores and chain restaurants have an app that you can download and have access to coupons and deals. If these are available, why not utilize them when trying to save money?
If you’re already planning to shop at a certain store or eat at a certain restaurant, get in the habit of checking if they have an app. If they do, download it and try to find any coupons, discounts, deals, or rewards that they have. Stores such as Kroger, Target, and Walmart all have apps that offer coupons and other deals. Chain restaurants like McDonald’s, Whataburger, and Panera Bread do the same thing with their apps. All you have to do is download the apps, and these ways to save money are there for you to use! Come on, how could it get any easier? Thank you for this one, technology.
Making sure you are budgeting effectively is an important part of marriage, especially if your budget is a little tight. Things go much more smoothly when both of you are committed to working together. This is especially true with your unique budget; it’s up to both of you to do all you can to make it work!
If you’re already married and trying to navigate your finances, we hope you find this information useful. If you’re engaged and preparing for marriage, take note of these tips and make sure you’re having all the important conversations at this stage. A very important one is discussing the pros and cons of a prenuptial agreement and whether or not it will work for you. Luckily for you, Hello Prenup has all the information you need to learn about how a prenup will benefit your relationship.
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected].