Having two incomes doesn’t mean you’ll save money, even if you live together! These tips for engaged couples who can’t save money are inspired by a question from a reader.
“My fiancé and I dated long distance for 3 years before getting engaged 4 months ago. I moved to his state and we decided that we would begin combining our incomes now. We want to save money and pay some of the bigger expenses that come with marriage, such as our wedding, house, etc. The problem is that we can’t save money. We’re 4 months into our combined incomes, and have no money saved yet! It baffles me! We have tried cutting down our spending but still end the month with nothing left over. What would you advise we do to more effectively build our nest egg?” ~ from Tracy on Finances for Engaged Couples – How to Talk Money Before Marriage.
The first tip for couples who can’t save money is to start planning their future. Read books like The Complete Financial Guide for Young Couples: A Lifetime Approach to Spending, Saving and Investing – you’ll learn how to pay for unexpected expenses, reduce your student loan or home mortgage, and start saving for retirement.
And, here are a few money saving tips for couples who have combined their income and want to save money for the wedding…
5 Tips for Engaged Couples Who Can’t Save Money
My husband and I paid off the mortgage of our first home, and are now paying off the mortgage of our 1.1 million dollar house. We loved the freedom of not having a mortgage…but I love this house with our ocean views more than our mortgage-free days!
So, you’ve come to the right place if you’re an engaged couple who can’t save money. We can, and we’ll show you how.
Figure out where you’re leaking money
Logically, if you and your fiancé combined your two incomes and moved in together, then you should have extra money, right? But Tracy and her fiancé can’t save money even though they’re theoretically earning twice as much.
The first thing to do is calculate your monthly expenses. We have a monthly record of all our bills, so we know exactly how much we’re spending every month. If you can’t save money as an engaged couple, sit down with your fiancé and look at each and every one of your monthly bills.
Have you created a monthly budget yet? Read 7 Tips for Creating a Household Budget – From Surprises to Sharing.
Ask your fiancé to ‘fess up about his income and debt
Maybe Tracy’s fiancé doesn’t earn as much as she thinks, or maybe he’s up to his eyeballs in debt – and she doesn’t know it. There is a reason engaged couples can’t save money. It’s not a mystery! It’s actually very easy to determine where your money is going every month…the difficult part is when you and your fiancé have different money personalities.
Sometimes couples lie to each other about their spending and saving habits. There’s an actual term for this: financial infidelity.
Pay for your Starbucks coffee twice
This is my favorite money saving tip from the Bank of Montreal Financial Group:
“Every time you buy a cup of coffee, lunch, or a newspaper, magazine, DVD or other entertainment material, put the same amount of money into an account intended for saving or bill payments,” writes Cassandra in Better Attitude, Bigger Income. “See how much money you’ve saved at the end of the month. Now you know how much money you spent (but could’ve saved) this month. This little trick will also show you how much those items really cost, since most of us only take home about one-half what we earn. So, buying that $5 DVD is really costing you $10, that coffee is really about $7.50, and going to the movies? Whoa . . . but, you get the picture.”
Don’t buy coffee at Starbucks!!!
My husband and I almost never spend money on coffees, lunches, or even dinners out. I’d much rather save our Canadian loonies and twoonies for the mortgage – not to mention dog toys, veterinarian bills, holiday vacations, and school in September (I’ll be a full-time student at UBC, getting my Master’s of Social Work. That’s another money saving tip for engaged couples: get educated!).
One of my Twitter pals has a similar tip for saving money:
“This is a very small thing, but I squirrel away every $5 bill that comes my way (pick any denomination). Last year, I saved $300,” says Lauren, aka @LolosLetters. “The downside is you can start to get obsessive about fivers. But was amazed how much I saved, especially when I rarely use cash.”
Find meaning in your experiences as an engaged couple, not the crap you buy
I know how fun it can be to buy new things – I’m not a shopper, but I’ve definitely experienced that addictive “shopper’s high.” But, I also know that spending money isn’t the only way to feel good. In fact, spending money may one of the least satisfactory ways to be happy because it requires a constant outflow of money.
When you can’t save money, it may be because you’re spending your cash on things you think will make you happy but that you don’t need. What were the last three purchases you made? Were they necessary, or just for fun?
Another thing that makes me good at saving money is being a Big Sister. I see my Little Sister every week, and we have to find activities that are fun, but don’t cost money. I’m teaching us both to have a great time without spending a dime – and we really do find meaning in our experiences! And, those experiences cost nothing.
Bonus money saving tip – get a credit card through work
Not many engaged couples can do this, so I’m adding it as a bonus:
My husband charges thousands of dollars to his credit card every month, because of his job (he has to pay airfares, hotel rooms, expensive equipment rentals, etc). He has a work credit card in his name, and the air miles rack up really fast. He can’t use the air miles at work because of where he and his employees travel – it’d be too complicated and time-consuming to redeem the air miles.
So, guess who saves money by enjoying the benefits of a work credit card? That’s how we can afford to take a vacation every year. Last year Jamaica….next year, Vietnam!
For more money saving tips for engaged couples, read Most Popular Money Articles – Financial Tips and Goals.
If you have any thoughts on what to do when you can’t save money, please comment below…