If you’re like most couples, your newly minted Mr. and Mrs. titles bring shared financial goals (a down-payment, perhaps) along with some debt (we’re looking at you, student loans). Here, Robbye and Scott Schroeder, authors of Managing the Marriage Purse, offer some clever tips on how to cut down on excess spending.
Trade services instead of paying cash. If you are a hardcore yoga buff and a marketing expert, maybe you could offer to build a website for your favorite yoga teacher in exchange for training. This also goes for personal trainers, hairdressers, massage therapists and other service providers that you enjoy but cannot justify during your getting out-of-debt years.
Brown-bag it. Make your own lunch and take it to work rather than spending $10 or even $20 at the office food court. Home-prepped food is likely to be healthier too, which could save you serious money in medical care down the road.
Return that fondue kit that you got as a wedding gift but will never use, and exchange it for an espresso machine. This is a great way to break the $4-a-day latte habit.
Unplug your electronics when not in use. If you have a plasma screen you are sucking power out of the wall even when it is powered off. Unplug your collection of chargers, too, when not in use.
Cut recuring fees. Scan your credit-card statements for any monthly fees. Many of us sign up for services or subscriptions we end up not really using. You may have even forgotten what you signed on for in the first place. Call and find out, then cancel if need be.
Avoid retail danger zones. Steer clear of items displayed at the ends of the aisles in grocery stores or next to the register unless they are on your shopping list. This is usually where you’ll find expensive sunscreens, batteries, high-calorie snacks — all things that you do not need.
Kick those unhealthy, costly habits. Stop drinking, smoking, etc. This is a no-brainer, but most casual drinkers do not realize how much just a couple of drinks per week add up to in one year. Bonus points: If you quit smoking, you will also reduce your health expenses later on in life.
Send in rebates imediately. Ever wonder why you have to mail in the $50 rebate when you buy the new printer? Companies are betting you will not do it. Ten days after you send the rebate form, make sure to call and follow up. Some companies have a policy that if you do not call, they will not send the rebate check.
Think pre-income tax when spending. Thinking of buying that $60 sweater while it is on sale? Depending on which tax bracket you are in, the true cost is really $75 to $110. This is what you actually must earn before taxes to spend $60. Is it really worth that much?
Calculate what your hourly time is worth. Thinking of spending three hours at the mall? If you make $50,000 per year, and you work 40 hours a week, that means your hourly rate is $26. Spending three hours at the mall is equivalent to $78 in terms of your time, and this is before you buy that $60 sweater.
Use coupons and shop with a list. Sign onto an online coupon-cutting service like couponmaster.com. For about $10 you can get $50 worth of coupons for grocery items you use on a regular basis, which is the key to using coupons. Do not clip the coupons for items you do not already use or you’ll end up spending more money. You can save about $200 a month this way.
File your taxes as soon as possible. If you are owed a refund, don’t spend it before you get the check. Use the check to pay off debt or put it into your savings.
Photo Credit: iStock
Managing the Marriage Purse, Robbye Schroeder with Scott Schroeder (Wheatmark, Inc.)