Couples who do things together have greater relationships. But, there are not many things couples can do that does not cost some money. Vacations, weekend getaways, and dinners add up. Those who want to live now may later regret their capricious attitudes toward spending and saving. It’s best to strike a balance. Live in the moment but plan for the future. Here is how.
The Weekly In and Out
Many people make crucial money mistakes despite all of the information being right there in front of them. A simple analysis of how much you make versus what you spend per week gives a couple a great overview of their money affairs. If you make a combined income of a couple thousand per week but live in an expensive apartment, go out to eat several nights a week, and love new clothes, you’re bound to get into financial trouble.
You’re human for wanting the nice apartment, clothes, etc., but it’s not practical when considering how much money is coming into the household. At some point, you’re going to have to crunch the numbers and place a cap on how much you can spend per week after factoring what you need for rent, mortgage, food, gas, etc.
The Credit Card Neglect
It’s easy to get in financial trouble in modern times. If you don’t have a lot of money in the bank, it’s pretty easy to get a credit card. That way, you can get what you want now and worry about paying later. For many, that immediate gratification is enough to pull the wool over the eyes of practical budgeting. There is nothing wrong with having a credit card. As many financial gurus suggest, having one or a few will help build credit.
However, many couples don’t do exactly as suggested. These gurus suggest using a credit card and paying it off in full each month. That way, you build credit and never have to pay interest. Some people get in so deep with credit cards, paying the minimum each month, that they don’t realize they never really scrape away at the principal amount. They just pay interest which continues to grow each and every month. In bad cases, you’re faced with needing to pay back a credit card faster than anticipated and panic. Discover details here about debt consolidation and sound ways to stay on top of debt.
Learning What is a Need Versus a Want
It’s natural to want a yacht, a sports car, and a large home. Aside from the endless ads of the rich and beautiful flaunting such, those closest to us (parents, friends, siblings) could be a bad role model too. It’s natural to want but it’s impractical in many cases. Wanting only what we need is a bitter pill to swallow and can take a bit of adjustment for many couples, especially those who are younger and more prone to want to live now while young.
For example, you may need a car to get work (yet alternative modes of travel are usually available). You could shop for a small, economically priced car that has no added features or frills. You could opt for a vehicle that gets you to work yet also tickles your vanity – one with a prestigious brand name that looks good and turns heads. Which is the smarter choice?
The Savings Account That Isn’t
Do you have a savings account? Some banks provide you with free savings accounts and even place funds in it based on how many purchases made with a debit card. Such is a good way to get you thinking about saving but it’s not enough. Aside from a 401k through work or bonds given to you by relatives, you need to focus on saving each month. Often, couples figure how much they can spend each month and never consider cutting that number in half and placing the rest in a savings account.
Again, it’s human to want to have fun now and enjoy the fruits of immediate gratification. Unfortunately, a more likely story is one involving couples that get in money trouble due to an unexpected layoff, need for a new car, newborn baby, etc. What would happen if you needed an extra few hundred dollars per month? If it’s not in savings, how are you going to get it? Rather than adopt the philosophy of figuring how much you can spend, figure out how much money you can put into your savings account each month. It sounds similar but requires a totally different mindset.
Adam Lyons writes about personal finance. Whether he’s writing for young adults or those approaching retirement, his articles offer useful advice that everyone should follow.