The following post is by staff writer Melissa Batai
My cousin Scott has been married for a little over a year now. He and his wife both work full-time. They would like to have children, but they first want to buy a house and pay off his student loans. Recently he shared that they are 50% done with their savings goal of having a three month emergency fund and a 20% down payment on a house.
Considering how cavalier many couples are about their money (and their debts), I was encouraged to hear how responsible he and his wife are being. Being on the same page about money bodes well for their relationship, especially since many divorces are attributed to money disagreements.
If you and your spouse (or future spouse) would like to work together to save money, there are several strategies that you can use:
Set goals together. Take the time to talk with one another about what you want your money to do. Do you want to save for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe or a down payment on a house? Do you want to pay off student loans or create a six month emergency fund?
There’s no right answer here. What’s important is that each of you has a say in what you want. Then, find a way to prioritize your goals.
Track your progress. Once you set your goals, don’t stop there. Make sure to check in with one another at least once a month to discuss the progress you’ve made and how you can continue to make progress.
Focus on one another’s strengths. Each of us saves in a different way. Some people like to find ways to save when making a large purchase. Others clip coupons and avoid buying coffee from a coffee shop so they can save the difference. Find out what works for each of you and play to those strengths.
For years I was frustrated by my husband because he wasn’t a bargain shopper. I liked to get the best deal for my money.
Then I realized I had nothing to complain about because my husband rarely spends money—period. He leaves me to negotiate when we buy a vehicle or to find the best deal when buying groceries. We talk about the budget, but I handle almost all of the money.
After a few years of hearing more than a few friends complain about how much money their husbands like to spend, I really appreciated that my husband wasn’t like that, even if it does mean that I shoulder more responsibility with our money.
Respect each other’s interests. Maybe your spouse wants to go out to eat twice a year and spend a good wad of cash. (That would be my husband.) Maybe you would prefer to go out to eat more often at cheaper restaurants. (That would be me.) There’s nothing wrong with either of these scenarios. Just learn how you can respect one another and your choices.
My husband and I compromised by just going out to eat on birthdays. Since there are five of us in the family, that means we eat out five times a year. The birthday person gets to order whatever they would like, while the rest of us are a bit more responsible with what we order.
If they work together, couples can save a surprising amount of money, as my cousin and his wife are.
What are your strategies for working with your spouse to save money?