Money and relationships are often a tangled web. About 40 to 50% of married couples divorce, according to the Family Council. Many of those divorces are linked to financial problems or disagreements. Saving money for a new house can be a stressful time for a relationship if you don’t have a plan. Here are some tips to help you and your partner save for a new home that can reduce stress.
Get Real About a Budget
How much money do you and your partner need each week? Money can “disappear” when you aren’t diligent about tracking where it goes. The first thing you and your partner should do is sit down and evaluate your budget. Track spending for a month. You may be surprised to find that it isn’t the big bills that are killing your finances; it’s the small spending that’s dinging your finances the hardest.
Come up with a budget you can both live with and stick to it. You may have to sacrifice your morning coffee on the way to work and eat more lunches from home, but in the end, it will build your savings faster.
Cut Back On The “Extras”
Take a closer look at your subscriptions. Some apps can do the work for you. That extra $20 to $50 a month that you’re spending on duplicate streaming subscriptions can add up when you’re trying to save money. How often do you go to the gym? Can you justify the expense of your gym membership? Take a look at all the things you’re paying for every month, and start cutting the fat.
Saving money to buy your first home is well worth giving up the extra streaming entertainment or exercising at home instead of going to the gym. The more you cut back, the more you’ll save.
Don’t Change Your Standard of Living
If you get a raise, a bonus, or a nice-sized tax refund, don’t change your standard of living. Save all the extra windfall money you get. Saving any windfall will help to build your savings account quickly. A couple of thousands of dollars can pad your savings nicely.
Stick to your budget and make sure the windfall money goes right into your savings account. You can’t miss what you never had.
Stay Home More
Have a date night at home. Watch movies at home. Cook together. Invest in little things at home that will be enjoyable, but that won’t dent the budget. About 88% of homeowners report that they enjoy staying home after painting the interior of their home, according to House Grail. Make your current home a place you don’t mind being.
Staying home more often will help you to save in many ways. Forgo vacations and functions that will cost money. Instead of dinner out, consider inviting friends over for a potluck meal.
Plan For the Added Expenses
When you’re saving for a new home, plan for the potential “hidden expenses” of buying a new one. While adding a new roof to a house will provide you with a return of about 85% when you resell, according to the Realtors Association, you still need an emergency fund to cover the costs. Don’t just save towards a down payment; save to have enough money to cover moving costs and make repairs during the first year. It’s better to wait until you have a nice savings balance before you buy the house.
Money can be a tough subject for many couples, but it’s a conversation you should have frequently. Be sure to keep the above tips in mind as you and your partner form a plan of action for buying a new house. Good luck, and happy saving!
If you’re like most people, you may have fallen behind on your retirement savings. Don’t worry – it’s not too late to catch up! Regardless of your age, you can prepare yourself for retirement. Follow these 6 tips and you will be able to speed up your savings process and reach your retirement goals in no time!
1. Make a Budget and Stick to It
One of the best ways to catch up on your retirement savings is by making a budget and sticking to it. Determine how much you need to save each month in order to reach your goal. Then, make sure you are automatically transferring that amount into your retirement account each month.
Another way to stay on track is to set up alerts or reminders so you don’t forget to make your contributions.
If you have a 401(k) plan through work, another helpful tip is to increase your contribution percentage each year. By doing this, you’ll catch up on your savings and ensure that you’re staying on track for retirement.
2. Automate Your Finances
To make sure you’re saving for retirement and not miss a contribution, you should automate your finances. This means setting up automatic transfers from your checking account into your retirement account each month. Doing this will help you stay on track and ensure that you’re making progress towards your goal.
3. Invest in Yourself
Learn how to make your money work for you. The key is to never stop learning. There are a number of resources available that can help you get started, including books, online courses, and personal finance seminars.
Investing in yourself will help you reach your retirement goals faster. It frees up more time that you can also use to find more means of earning.
4. Cut Back on Expenses
If you want to catch up on your retirement savings, then you should also cut back on your expenses. Take a look at your budget and see where you can make adjustments.
Some areas where you may be able to save money include eating out, entertainment, travel, and shopping. By cutting back on your expenses, you’ll be able to free up more money to contribute to your retirement account.
Remember, every little bit counts when it comes to saving for retirement!
5. Start Saving Now
The sooner you start saving, the more time your money will have to grow. If you’re not sure how much you need to save for retirement, several online retirement calculators can help you determine the amount.
Once you know how much you need to save, make sure you’re automatically transferring that amount into your retirement account each month. Doing this will help you stay on track and ensure that you’re making progress towards your goal.
If you can’t afford to contribute the full amount each month, contribute what you can. A few saved bucks is still better than nothing.
What are some of your tips for catching up on your retirement savings? Share them with us in the comments below!
Tamila McDonald has worked as a Financial Advisor for the military for past 13 years. She has taught Personal Financial classes on every subject from credit, to life insurance, as well as all other aspects of financial management. Mrs. McDonald is an AFCPE Accredited Financial Counselor and has helped her clients to meet their short-term and long-term financial goals.
After my husband and I got married last year, we did what most couples do and combined households. As we joined our lives and finances, we also evaluated our monthly expenses. We started by establishing our new budget. Then, we divided the financial responsibilities, set our savings goals, and looked for areas where we could cut back. The most obvious way was to cancel duplicate memberships and services we no longer needed. However, we overlooked a few opportunities to save money with our telecom services. Now that my husband will need to relocate for work, we are looking for more ways to trim the budget. So, I’m wondering if we have the best deal for our TV bundle package or if there are better options for us.
The Current TV Bundle Package
Before we got together, he had two roommates living in the same house. For budgeting purposes, they shared services and streaming memberships. However, anyone who lives in a large household will tell you how frustrating it is when you skimp on your internet speed. With all three of them working from home, streaming, and gaming, they chose a package with greater bandwidth. But now that it was just the two of us, I wasn’t sure if we were paying for more than we needed.
Our current bundle includes TV and internet services, but all streaming services are separate. With the bundle, we have the Ultimate plan with download speeds up to 500Mbps, a 1.25 TB monthly data plan, and 140 channels. The latest bill showed that we pay $83 a month for internet and $114 for TV; with taxes and fees, it’s just more than $210 a month. This price included a $30 discount on the package, which makes it a good deal. Unfortunately, the offer expires in April 2023.
Options in Our Area
Sadly, there are a limited number of service providers in our area. Only two, to be exact. This doesn’t work in our favor or create much competition for pricing and customer service.
Over the years, I’ve used both providers and neither one comes close to satisfactory. Since their prices and quality of service are about the same, I have no loyalty to either one. Therefore, I let the bottom line determine where I go and sometimes switch between the two, depending on who is running the best promotion.
I’ve also looked into satellite services, but have had bad experiences in the past. Living in the midwest means that we often deal with poor weather conditions. When it gets bad, service gets spotty and is often out for several hours at a time. So, if you have been considering satellite and wondering “does weather affect satellite internet?”, in short, it seems that you are more likely to experience connection issues during inclement weather than with other types of internet. Since I need reliable internet access to run my business, satellite service isn’t a good option for me. However, for some, it can be the only option available.
Mix and Match
The other alternative is to pay for the services individually. We don’t watch many cable TV channels, so we have discussed ditching the extras for local channels only. Additionally, we don’t need a landline since we rely on our cell phones.
While it may seem limited, we would still have plenty of entertainment services. Since we already pay for subscriptions to Netflix and Amazon Prime, we could still watch our favorite TV shows and movies through these streaming services. Looking at our options, we are seriously considering canceling the cable and finding a bundle for our streaming services.
Getting the Best Deal on Your TV Bundle Package
Looking at our current package, it seems like we are getting the best deal available right now. However, that will change when our discount expires. So, if you are looking for ways to get the best deal on your TV bundle package, here are three things you should keep in mind.
1. Bundle your services for better discounts.
Obviously, bundling is one of the best ways to save on your telecom services. As a general rule, you typically pay less for each service when you go through a single provider.
Sometimes, they will also offer promotional deals and discounts to help you save even more. Not only is it good news for your wallet, but telecom companies also love it when you bundle because it boosts revenue for each client and has its users committing to long-term contracts.
However, not all bundles are a bargain. You need to do your due diligence and pay attention to the fine print. Watch out for the fees for add-ons and equipment rentals. These hidden charges may cost you more by nickel and diming you beyond your budget.
2. Check out the competition.
Any true budgeter knows that you should always shop around and compare prices. The same is true when it comes to your telecom services. If you live in larger cities, you will usually find better deals. The bigger the local market, the better the inducement offers will be as well.
Many providers offer great deals and packages to sign up. Plus, you can sometimes find exclusive web offers to save even more. Others offer incentives like prepaid credit cards or discounts when you sign up or pay for services online. Sometimes the savings are so significant, that I’m willing to switch contracts and go through the hassle of changing service providers.
3. Don’t be afraid to negotiate.
Most people think that rates are set in stone. While there may be standard pricing, there are usually ways that service providers are willing to sweeten the deal to keep your business. So when your contract expires, be ready to have a conversation about your renewal.
When you go into the conversation, keep in mind that there is some room for negotiation. Although they will rarely give you free service, it never hurts to ask for a current promotional rate for new members or that they extend your current deal.
The staunchest savers will also advise you to be willing to walk away. Let your provider know that you will be looking at other options if they can’t honor the rate or offer other discounts. Sometimes threatening to end your service spurs them to find ways to reduce your monthly bill and extend your contract.
Ultimately, you have to decide what is most important for your communication needs and choose the package that is right for you. It never hurts to ask for what you want from your service provider. They may surprise you and grant your requests. In the long run, they know a satisfied customer is worth more than the discount.
Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.