Lance and I got married this past April, which was wonderful, beautiful, and also intimidating. I've been on my own for the past 4 years. No one has questioned how much money I spent on food, water bills, or shoes, and now I'm going to let my penny pinching husband watch my finances and see every guilty pleasure I buy into?! Not to mention that getting married meant I was agreeing to take on his medical school debt, and he committed to take on my house debt. I was comfortable with my mortgage and my spending habits, but felt like there was more pressure to save when we were combining finances.
Here's a few tips on managing money that have worked for us:
- Know your income and your debt- Make a list, write it down, it's real when you write it out. Take account of how much money you have coming in from both incomes. I prefer to know income post tax, insurance, and 401k being taken out. Focusing only on the money that actually hits my bank account. List your debts with largest interest rates first. Highest interest rate, first priority to pay off.
- Make a budget- There are lots of budgets online, we use one from Mint. (Tip, you have to scroll down to to the Click to Download to actually get the spreadsheet) We've modified it a little bit to be able to compare months next to each other and next to our actual goal so we can see whether we're improving or just getting worse. Contact me if you would like a copy of mine- email@example.com
- Order your groceries online- This is not only convenient and eliminates one of my greatest headaches, but it makes me stay on budget. I literally watch the price go up on my cart after I add each item, and I can conveniently browse price options without feeling rushed. Then I drive to the store, park in the designated parking, text them that I'm there, and they bring it to my car. BEST THING EVER! I found I'm saving $20-$60 a trip. I'm a big HEB fan and use their curbside pick up. Bonus, first 4 trips are free. HEB Curbside Pickup.
- Cook and DRINK at home- This is a double win, I spend less money and I stay on a diet.
- Skip the Mani, Pedi, and Brunch- These are unnecessary, expensive, and can all be done at home for way cheap.
- Set Goals- One recommendation that Lance and I took to heart was to set financial goals for ourselves. Our first goal was to put together an emergency cash fund. We took all the cash we received at our wedding and saved $1,000 right away. Next goal was to get our savings account up to $10,000. This is a made up number, we tried to decide what we would need if God forbid one of our vehicles stopped working tomorrow and we had to buy a new one. Once we hit $10,000 we went on to our next goal of paying off debts. We're starting with my truck so we can eliminate a monthly payment. Once we pay off my truck we're going back to saving, we'd like to have 4 months worth of income in our savings account by our first anniversary. So in just 5 months, we've saved $11,000 and starting paying off debts! Plus side, it feels amazing to accomplish a goal, it motivates me to do more and more.
- Designate a time to talk about money- Lance and I had our first married tiff about this. We use Mint to track our everyday spending it's great and helpful, but not perfect it does take a little time to make sure everything is in the right spending category, etc. One night after working all day and cooking dinner Lance suggested we look over the finances. I thought it would be a quick glance, but instead it turned into 2 hours of critically looking at every $2 expense. It drove me nuts! I was not prepared for the the conversation or did I have all the items in the right categories so it was frustrating and annoying for both parties. We've since agreed that we need a few days warning to make sure everything is easy to read, simplified, and up to date. Instead of looking at it online I prefer printing out a copy of my excel spreadsheet so I can take notes and won't get distracted.
Millennial's haven't exactly received the best reputation when it comes to wise investing and savings, but Lance and I are determined not to be a part of "that" grouping. We want to be smart, save for our future, but also enjoy the moment that we are currently in. We received great advice from premarital counseling, Dave Ramsey email tips, and working together to see what works best for us. My biggest frustration when starting a budget was how much do I put in what category, so if you're stuck where I was ask me for a copy of mine at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also comment your favorite budget layouts or best budgeting tips!