When your money is his money, and his money is your money—things can get complicated. Sometimes people marry their way into thousands of dollars of debt. Often they don’t even know it!
Dealt the debt card? Luckily there are couples willing to share their money-saving strategies based on experience. Take April and Jason Vargo of Whiting, Indiana. The couple tells The Penny Hoarder, there were no big bumps in their relationship until they realized they had two totally different perspectives on how to deal with money. April was more about saving… Jason was a little more eager to spend.
The couple eventually paid off a whopping $47,000 in debt in less than two years. The kicker (and this is clutch)—they didn’t sacrifice their lifestyle. Here’s a look at how they did it. Plus, here are some other tips for eliminating the debt that’s keeping your relationship from flourishing!
1. Cut What You Don’t Need
It certainly sounds easy. It’s a top way April and Jason saved some serious dough. For this couple, cable wasn’t a priority, so they traded cable for Netflix and Hulu. There are countless cost-cutting options to try based on your lifestyle:
- Ditch a car for public transportation (yes, there are couples with just one car).
- Sell unused items, like the baseball card collection that’s collecting dust.
- Cancel club memberships you don’t take advantage of. Listen, if you haven’t been to the gym in six months, you’re not going to start today. Cancel it.
2. Save On Meals
Like April and Jason, trade in some meals out for some date nights in. When you’re at the grocery store, plan meals based on what’s on sale. And remember to check your pantry before shopping (you may already have what you need). Lastly, shop once a week with a list. It forces you to plan your meals, and you eliminate a lot of impulse buys.
3. Tackle Those Student Loans
Don’t be embarrassed if you and your spouse kick off marriage with thousands of dollars worth of student debt. It’s the new normal. But you do need a plan for paying it off. Unfortunately this debt doesn’t just go away. That may mean sacrifices, like driving old cars for awhile and making vacations biannual.
4. Travel Smart
April and Jason were not going to sacrifice their trips around the world. Just like at the grocery store, setting an itinerary and sticking to it can help save money while traveling.
Some more travel hacks:
- Sign up for airline emails to learn about flash sales.
- Pack some instant oatmeal (or other travel-friendly and filling snacks).
- Look into city passes for transportation once you’re off the plane.
5. Don’t Hide Your Spending Habits
If you have debt, don’t hide it. If you or your better half is secretly spending double what you say you’re spending, it’s time to get a financial planner involved.
Talk about how to pay off those financial debts, without late payments.
6. Don’t Bring In Wedding Baggage
If you happen to read this before tying the knot, the last thing you want is a big bill to start off your marriage. The average wedding in the U.S. is more than $30,000, but yours doesn’t have to cost that much. Click here for clever ways to save on your wedding day. For example, don’t get married on a Saturday!
7. Be A Team
Make sure you talk to your spouse about being financially fit. Create a net worth statement (know exactly what you have to spend, what’s invested and what you owe). Then, set your payoff priorities. Once you have a plan you can be practical about cutting those everyday costs.
Don’t forget—celebrate the victories! Every penny counts!