Even if you and your spouse are absolutely happy and plan to spend the rest of your lives together, you’re going to have arguments. You might argue about the best ways to discipline your children, how to split household chores, and there may be the occasional argument about money.
Money disagreements or fights are common in relationships. One person might be responsible with money, whereas the other spends frivolously. Having an occasional money disagreement with your spouse doesn’t signal the end. But if you and your spouse can’t get a handle on your finances, these arguments can put a strain on your marriage. In fact, recent reports indicate that fighting about money is a top predictor of divorce.
Arguments about money are more likely to occur when there isn’t enough cash flow in the household. But if you and your spouse work together, you can come up with practical strategies for saving money and improving your budget. Here’s a look at a few money-saving tricks you can start today.1. Free date nights
Just because you’re saving money doesn’t mean you have to spend your weekends at home watching TV. There are plenty of ways to have a good time without breaking the bank. If you go online and research local activities, chances are you’ll find a handful of free options, especially during the spring and summer months. This might include free concerts in the park, festivals at the beach, etc. Or, you can get creative and plan your own free outings. Grab a frisbee or football and head to the beach or the park. If you’re planning to go out with your spouse, maybe you can split an entrée at a restaurant, catch a matinee or check Groupon for local deals and savings.
2. Don’t upgrade
If you and your partner are recently married or thinking about getting married, there’s a tendency to start looking at new homes or apartments. You can probably use a bigger space, but getting a bigger place also means a bigger monthly payment. And if you and your spouse are barely making ends meet, it might not be the best time to upgrade.
A better approach is staying where you currently live until your financial situation improves. This includes paying off more debt, saving a bigger cash cushion or waiting until a better job comes along. The less financial obligations you have hanging over your head, the less financial stress you’ll deal with.3. Buy used
Whether you’re shopping for furniture, clothes, electronics or toys for your kids, you might find exactly what you need at a flea market, thrift store or a consignment shop. Buying used is one of the best ways to find items cheaply. You can also score great deals at estate sales in your area. And if you check Craigslist, you might find a bunch of free items. Another approach: take advantage of social media and let your network know you’re taking donations, especially if you’re trying to furnish your house. They might have a few furniture pieces taking up space and won’t mind contributing to your cause.
4. Slash your utility bills
Utility bills can be a beast. These include gas bills, electricity bills and cable. But there are ways to lower your costs and improve cash flow in your household. You might not realize this, but your gas or electricity company may offer an equal payment plan. This is when a company charges a flat rate every month based on your average usage from the previous year. With this plan, there are no surprises and you can predict your utility payments. This is also an excellent strategy for lowering your payment. Visit your utility company’s website to see if this is an option. Likewise, you can reduce your cable bill by downgrading or getting rid of cable altogether and streaming from Netflix or Hulu. 5. Reevaluate your insurance
It’s important to have adequate insurance. But if you have more insurance than you need, you’ll pay more than necessary. Sit down with your spouse and reevaluate your insurance needs. You might be able to lower your auto insurance by choosing a plan with a higher deductible.
6. Only Have One car
This doesn’t work for every couple. But if you and your partner do everything together, and you work in the same vicinity, maybe you can ditch one of your cars and use one vehicle. This results in one monthly car payment, cheaper auto insurance, cheaper personal property taxes, and less maintenance.
Saving money is important, especially when you’re trying to improve cash flow and better prepare for the future. Cutting back might seem difficult, but if you and your partner put your heads together, you can come up with a plan that works.
What tricks do you use to save money and improve cash flow?