11 Surprising Ways Couples Tend To Waste Money
Even if you're trying to be frugal, it's possible you're accidentally wasting money as a couple, and spending more than you realize. It's so easy, for example, to overspend while out on dates, when visiting friends, or while buying each other gifts. But the good news is, you can rein it all in by being more aware of where your money goes.
"Take the time to talk through a budget together and how you will spend any joint finances," Jeannie Assimos, chief of advice at eharmony, tells Bustle. Chat about the money you plan to spend as a couple, and decide on a few "rules" and boundaries. Then see how it goes.
"After the budget has been in place for three months, consider looking back through all of your monthly expenses, together, and discussing where you're on track and how you can improve," Ben Smith, Certified Financial Planner with XY Planning Network, tells Bustle.
It might not be easy at first. But if you stick with it, you may catch yourselves saving more money — and even seeing eye-to-eye when it comes to spending. Read on below for a few ways you and your partner may be wasting money, according to experts, as well as how to cut back and save.
1. Going Overboard With Gifts
While it's always fun to give a gift, several things can start happening as the years go by. First, you two may feel the need to outdo gifts from the previous year. Or, one of you may get caught up in the idea that a pricier present is somehow more meaningful.
Whatever the case may be, if it seems like you're overspending, it can help to communicate your concerns. For example, you might want to let your partner know that you'd be cool with spending a quiet evening at home, instead of celebrating a birthday at an expensive restaurant, family finance expert Catherine Alford, tells Bustle.
You might also agree to put a cap on how much you're going to spend during the holidays, which "prevents one person from going overboard and makes things feel equal," Alford says. Figure out whatever works best for you, and stick to it.
2. Moving To A Bigger Apartment
"Single people will happily stay in a one bedroom apartment" personal finance expert Pauline Yan, CFA, CAIA, tells Bustle. But if you and your partner move in together, don't be surprised if you're instantly struck with the need to move to a bigger place.
This can happen, but it's important to remember that a larger place often means a higher rent, bigger bills, and so on. So take a moment to assess the situation and figure out what you'd really like to do.
It may be possible, and quite comfortable, to stay where you are and save that money instead. There's no rule that says you need multiple bedrooms or tons of extra space just because you share a space, so don't upgrade unless it feels right.
3. Spending Money With Friends
When you're out having fun with friends, buying drinks, and order apps, you may not think you're spending that much. But a big bill can add up fast, Sandy Yong, personal finance author of the upcoming book The Money Master, tells Bustle.
If it feels like you're getting sucked into a social life you can't afford, it can help to find new ways to see friends, without breaking the bank. "Why not go to your local liquor store and invite some friends over for drink," Yong says. "It's more relaxing and can save your money!"
4. Going All Out On Date Nights
It's fun, on occasion, to really do it up on a date night and treat yourselves to the good wine, the fancy restaurant, or the best seats at a concert. But many couples fall into the habit of "treating" themselves every week, and it can add up.
So if you'd like to stick to a budget, don't be afraid to consider other options, and "find cheap and easy date nights that don’t include a five course dinner and a movie," Assimos says.
Consider watching a movie at home, cooking dinner together, going for a walk, or checking out a free museum. There's no need to spend a lot in order to have a good time. And, as Assimos says, "Most of the time, these dates are more memorable, too!"
5. Signing Up For Subscriptions
"Do you have a stack of magazines lying on your coffee table waiting to be read? If so, you may consider canceling your subscription because those monthly costs can creep up on you," Yong says. "Instead, you can find magazines at your local library and borrow them for free."
Or, you can keep a few subscriptions you're both fond of, and get rid of the rest. While it may only be a few dollars here and there, you'll be surprised by how much money you'll save.
6. Having More Than One Car
Just like upgrading an apartment, it might seem like a no brainer to get a second car once you move in together. But do you really need it?
"Parking, insurance, and gas are typically more expensive than the average monthly car payment in major cities," Smith says. And it can all add up to be a big waste, especially if you can easily drive each other places instead.
7. Ordering Take Out
Take Out food always seems affordable in the moment, as you look at all the cheap prices — while also considering how nice it'll be to have delicious food arrive at your door. And yet, as with everything else, it can easily be a waste of money.
"Most people are shocked when they sit down to do their first budget and realize how much they spend on food," Rachel Cruze, author and personal finance expert, tells Bustle. "The good news is that it’s also one of the easiest areas to cut back on."
While it's not as convenient, "cooking at home can save you a ton of money," Cruze says. "So test out your cooking skills more often."
8. Buying Too Many Groceries
"People spend roughly $2.17 per minute in the grocery store and the average trip is 41 minutes," Cruze says, which is why you and your partner will definitely want to sit down and look at how much you're buying, what you're actually eating, and if it's all worth it.
If you want to stick to a budget, "make a list and challenge yourself to get in and out of the store in 30 minutes or less," Cruze says. There's a good chance you'll spend less, and only leave with the things you truly need.
9. Signing Up For Credit Cards
Before signing up for credit cards, consider how some of the perks can actually cause you to waste money.
For example, "many people make the mistake of thinking that they’re earning money on the 'rewards' they receive when spending with a credit card," Cruze says. "The amount you’re paying in interest will always outweigh the 'return' you get in rewards. People also spend more money when they spend with credit cards."
Try not to fall into this trap as a couple, and instead focus on living below your means, Cruze says. Having one or two credit cards is fine, but you won't want to use them excessively.
10. Treating Yourselves (And Ending Up In Debt)
"Lots of couples can fall into the 'I deserve' mentality," Cruze says, especially once you're further into your careers, and have spent lots of time together.
"You feel like you’ve worked hard," she says, "so you deserve a new house or a new car at this stage in your life." And yet this type of thinking can result in a lot of debt.
You can definitely have nice things, plan trips, and so on. But make sure you're budgeting for it, and not going beyond your means.
11. Doubling Up On Streaming Services
If you pay for a streaming service, and your partner pays for the same streaming service, you may want to ask yourselves why. "When couples are new, they often have overlapping subscription sites that are adding up that they could cut in half to share," Stacy Caprio, of Fiscal Nerd, tells Bustle.
So go through your list of TV providers, music subscriptions, and so on, cut it down, and share, Caprio says. It seems so insignificant, but every dollar adds up.
Like many couples, you and your partner may have a few habits like these that aren't the most financially savvy. But never fear. There are always ways to replace old habits with new ones, stick to budgets, and save more money in your relationship.