5 Tips for Budgeting Together as a Couple

Budgeting Together

Some folks seem to think that finances get more complicated when individuals become a couple. Well actually, that may not always be the case. In fact, it can actually be the other way around. Budgeting together may actually be easier and less cumbersome, especially if you follow these tips!

If you are in a relationship now and want to improve your financial literacy with your partner or are just preparing for when your dream gal or guy comes around, keep on reading to learn about 5 tips for budgeting together, as a couple.

1. Communication is Key

Communication is vital is practically every facet of a committed relationship. This much is also true when it comes to money and budgeting. Talk about things like:

  • Your salary
  • Debt
  • Assets
  • Saving goals

Talking about finances can be an awkwardly private thing. But it doesn’t have to be, especially with your partner. The open and honest you can be about money matters with your partner, the better.

2. Understand Your Individual Money Financial Style

Everyone is different when it comes to how they understand, spend, and save money. The decisions people make as adults regarding their money are largely affected by their upbringing. So, understanding the foundation of your partners financial upbringing is important (and interesting).

Maybe they were raised to be more frugal than you. Or perhaps more free spirited with their money. Whatever the case may be, knowing what their current money style is, and how it meshes with your own allows for more budgeting success as a couple.

3. Determine Your Needs as a Couple

We each have our list of individual necessities when it comes to life. It could be the type of food we like to eat, the activities we enjoy and the type of lifestyle we practice. In a couple, you have to begin to assess the shared needs as well, especially once you begin to live together. 

Considering items rent, utilities, transportation and debt can help to determine the size of budget you need to live the life you need as a couple.

4. Talk About Your Individual Wants

You may think you have a lot in common with your partner, but everyone wants different things. Despite being individual in nature, like gym memberships, hobbies, and home improvements, with a shared budget, individual desires become shared.

There needs to be give and take, or compromise, when it comes to what the individual wants and how it affects not only the shared budget, but also the other person in the relationship.

5. Outline Your Shared Financial Goals

The goals we have for our futures are directly connected to our finances. Talking about each other’s goals, as they relate to finances and life in general, will help you get a better idea for how to budget as a couple. You may check these money apps to achieve your financial goals.

Ask questions like:

  • What does retirement look like?
  • Are children part of your future?
  • What travel plans or dream vacations do you have?
  • Would you like to buy a house?

With answers to questions like these, and by taking a few other tips to heart, you will begin to flesh out differences and commonalities that can help prepare your budget together moving forward.

Related Reading: 8 Healthy Financial Habits You Should Start Today

4 Ways to Help You Boost Your Retirement Savings

Boost Your Retirement Savings

Planning for retirement is something that anyone can do. Whether you’re a fresh graduate who just landed their first job or a long-time worker nearing retirement, you should boost your retirement savings. If your company offers a 401k, you’ll have accumulated a decent chunk of change over your career that you can cash out upon retirement. However, if you want to maintain your current lifestyle after retirement, you’re going to have to do a bit of planning. and self-moderated retirement investment while you’re still of working age.

Here are 4 ways to help you boost your retirement savings so you can retire in comfort.

1. Set a final goal and milestones along the way

It doesn’t matter what you’re working toward, you’ll get the best results if you know exactly what your goal is. Just saying you want to boost your retirement savings isn’t enough.

First, come up with a number that you think will allow you to live in comfort after retirement. It’s alright to use your current cost-of-living as a yardstick. You just add or reduce as you think is necessary for the quality of living you’re aiming for post-retirement.

The next step is to calculate how much money you need to put aside each month to reach that goal by the time you retire. If you’re planning on retiring early, you’ll have to put a lot more money into your savings every month. Experiment with the calculations until you find an amount that you can afford to save every month that won’t drastically negatively impact your quality of life today.

2. Start saving as early as possible

Due to the way compound interest works, it’s best to start saving as soon as possible. For example, a 25-year-old who puts in $50 a month will have roughly as much money saved up by retirement age as a person who puts away $100 a month in savings but started at 35 years old.

If you’re already putting some money away every month in a retirement account, stick with it! Consistency over time is key to achieving your retirement goals and boosting savings. And if you haven’t started saving, do it now! Every day you put off not opening a savings account will increase the money you have to invest each period in order to reach your retirement savings goal.

3. Save your extra funds

In life, there will be times when you’ll find yourself with some extra money. Whether you’ve received an inheritance or just got a raise, don’t forget to stash extra funds into your savings. It can be tempting to splurge that extra money on something fun and fancy. Try to put at least half of it away in your retirement savings. Treat yourself with something small and affordable. If you just got a raise, then go ahead and spend some of that extra money on something nice. Just remember to always work toward your retirement goal.

4. Delay your Social Security payment as long as possible

In America, you’re qualified to start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits from the age of 62. However, the longer you delay pulling from your Social Security savings, the more money you stand to earn.

For each year until the age of 70, your monthly benefit from Social Security will increase. If you’re able and willing to continue working past 62, every year you delay retirement will significantly affect your total benefits from Social Security. This also means greater survivor benefits for your spouse, which is another key factor to keep in mind when considering retirement.

Related Reading: How to deal with debt in retirement

Top 4 Money Hacks for One Income Families

Money Hacks for One Income Families

In the world we live in today, everything is getting more and more costly. As a result, most families need numerous or more than one earning member. In the case of families having a single income source or earning member, things are quite different. 

Starting from the source of income, to expenses and budgets, a rigorous planning is necessary. Even if the source of income is huge, proper money handling is very important. Here are some effective money hacks for one income families. 

Hack 1: Proper budgeting and expense tracking

The first thing to do as a one income family is create a budget. The budget must be according to the level of income. While making a budget, it is sometimes important to cut corners. The budget should primarily focus on the daily needs and expenses. Make sure you do not add anything unnecessary to the budget.

To make sure that you don’t spend out of budget, tracking or keeping records is crucial. You must keep a record of every single expense. In addition to that, keep track of every bit of money, whether it is earned, saved, or spent.

Hack 2: Savings are always helpful

After spending according to the budget, there is a good chance of having an extra amount of cash in hand. In such cases, the wisest thing to do is save that money. However, it is not wise to consider leftovers as savings. 

The smart thing to do is setting aside a certain amount from the monthly income. As a result, some cash automatically builds up. However, upon acquiring large savings, the chances of spending on a frenzy rise in many. In such scenarios, the issue of emergency expenditures must always be considered. Savings can be great blessings in times of emergency. For example, in cases of medical emergencies and huge-scale debts, savings can remove the burden of expenses.

A very significant form of saving is investing in life insurance. It ensures the security of the non-earning members of the family, in the event of the earning member’s death.

Hack 3: Sort out major expenses

Like daily needs and expenses, the major expenses require severe attention. Major expenses can comprise debts, taxes, mortgages, or any form of debt. If a person having loans is the only earning member, his or her death will put the other family members in a huge problem.

As a result, paying off debts is a great issue for one-income families. In addition to that, expenses such as school fees, and medical bills also fall in the category of major expenses. However, major expenses vary from one family to another. 

Hack 4: Be tactical while spending

Spending according to a budget is not the only way of reducing expenses. Being tactical makes it much easier. Avoiding home deliveries is a good way of reducing costs. Instead of being lazy and ordering online or via phone, getting the parcel yourself is a good way. However, there are always exceptions.

Avoiding credit cards is also an effective method. Credit card charges and debts can easily cause a person to run low on cash. Completely avoiding credit card usage is not mandatory. As mentioned earlier, tracking is crucial here. As for credit card debts, one must treat them as a major expense. 

In day-to-day expenses, you have to be very strategic. For instance, instead of buying vegetables, and dairy products from a super shop, you can go to the farmer’s market. This way one income families can afford the same things, but fresher and at a lesser price.

The Bottom Line

One income families do not necessarily need to lead a very strict life. All it takes is to be strategic and cautious. Pre-planning and these money hacks for one income families can help family live a more disciplined and comfortable life.

Related Reading: 7 Types of Income and How They Can Change Your Future

7 Types of Income and How They Can Change Your Future

Types of Income

Everyone wants to increase their income. This is true for those starting out, those with a decade’s experience, or those thinking about retiring. But when they say they would like to have more money, few ever say what are the types of income they would like to have. Or what income they would like to increase.

If you’re salaried, you’d be conditioned to think that that’s all your income can be. It would be pretty much the same if you’re self-employed. The first thing you have to understand if you want to increase your income is that your paycheck is an income and not the only income you can have.

The Different Types of Income

1. A side gig

Aside from your primary job, you could do a freelance job or work during the evenings or weekends. These could be tied to your area of expertise. For e.g., if you work at a gym, you could part-time as a personal fitness instructor.

2. Create a physical product

Maybe you’re great at designing jewelry or phone cases. If you can do it as a side hustle and find sellers either online or through brick and mortar stores, that’ll be an additional income for you.

3. Real estate

The housing market is hot right now. This will be an appreciating asset if you research well before you buy. If buying and flipping it sounds expensive, you could look at commercial real estate. Most of them are at their lowest due to remote work.

4. Stocks

One of the types of income that is popular among the youth is stock. This requires some expertise, but the good news is that almost everything to learn about stocks is available online now. If you do your homework and are patient to stay in it for a long time, your investments will start paying dividends well into your golden years.

5. Blogging

If you believe you have enough expertise in a field to share with others, you could start a blog. It will take some time to build traction and get enough followers. But once you have a sizable following, you could earn income from ads or affiliate marketing.

6. Digital Publishing

While blogging is the gateway, what can build a brand out of you is digital publishing. If you can write a book – a short book will do – on a niche and market it well, you could be looking at a passive source of income for years.

7. Start a business

It would be better if you can invest in a business with others. That minimizes your risk while building another stream of income. What’s better, if you decide to sell your shares later, you’ll be making more money out of it.

The more sources of income you have, the better off your finances will be. Therefore, if you want to increase your income, you should have a clear understanding of the different types of income that you can earn. Hopefully, the above list has been of help.

Related Reading: Multiple Streams of Income You Can Build Today

8 Healthy Financial Habits You Should Start Today

Healthy Financial Habits

Finance is one aspect of your life that’ll affect every other part. Financial security and freedom can make every other facet of your life, including your health and personal relationships, significantly better. And for that, what you need are healthy financial habits.

The earlier you get serious about your personal finance, the better off you and your loved ones will be. To help you with that, here are eight financial habits for financial security and freedom that you can start today.

1. Make a budget

Nothing else will fall else in place unless you make a budget. Calculate your income and expenses based on your financial statement from the past few months. If you want to change your financial situation, you should know where you really stand. And there are so many budget apps available that can make budgeting easier.

2. Limit your expenses

Now that you know how much you spend every month, put an upper limit on your expenses. Unless it’s a healthcare or family-related unavoidable expense, you shouldn’t go beyond this limit.

3. Automate savings

With automatic withdrawals, you can start setting up a savings fund. Setting up one will take a few minutes and once you’re done, the system will automatically deduct it from your salary. When you don’t have access to that money, you’re less likely to spend it.

4. Pay credit cards in full

Credit card interest rates are among the highest in the industry. Keep that in mind whenever you use your card and make sure that you pay your monthly payments in full. Any leftover will carry exorbitant interest rates.

5. Reduce your rent

Rent is one of the biggest expenses that most of us have to make. Ask yourself whether you need a big apartment, especially if you’re starting out. Move to a smaller apartment or get roommates.

With remote work getting regularized, you can also move further away from your office, if it’s possible.

6. Imagine paying in cash

Here’s a neat little trick to help you cut down on your spending. The next time you’re about to buy something, imagine paying it in cash. That will suddenly feel heavier.

If you’re already paying in cash, imagine someone offering you either that product or service or that much cash. What would you choose?

7. Start investing

Earning makes you comfortable, investing makes you rich. Most people can’t comprehend the power of compounding but know that the earlier you start investing the bigger your returns will be.

Spend a couple of hours every day for two weeks to learn about index funds and retirement savings. Next step? Talk to a financial advisor.

8. Develop a secondary source of income

You can only reduce expenses to a certain extent. With an extra source of income, you’ll have more to save and invest in. If you can offer a service, you can find a market through the internet.

You don’t have to start all eight on the list immediately. Pick any two for the time being and focus on them. The rewards will encourage you to stick to every other financial habit.

8 Unique Ways to Spend Mother’s Day

Mother's Day Activities

When Mother’s Day arrives on May 9 will you be ready?

Will you be presenting mom, grandma, your wife, or whoever is the most important woman in your life with the same old gift of breakfast in bed, or a fuzzy bathrobe?

While these things are wonderful presents, maybe it’s high time you do something a little different, something off the beaten path, out of the ordinary, unique, unusual.

Yes, make this Mother’s Day super memorable for your mom who has had an impact on your life.

Like what? What’s unique? What’s cool and different?

Well, here are 8 unique ways to spend Mother’s Day this year to help you get started in your efforts to make Mom’s Day truly remarkable.

1. Take her hot air ballooning

Most cities have hot air balloon companies that would be more than happy to take your mom along with you and other family members high above the clouds on a sunny day. Be sure to start checking around now as these places get busy fast.

2. Take her to a DIY ceramics place

Here she can make a plate, a mug, a sculpture, and paint it herself the way she wants.

3. Cooking

If you want to be unique hire a personal chef to come into her home and prepare a full feast or show her some cool cooking skills she’s wanted to learn over the years.

4. Wine

If your mom likes wine pick her up and take her for some wine tastings in your neighborhood.

5. Flowers, fruit more

Ask mom if she’d like to go pick flowers, fruits, and veggies. Most cities have “u-pick ‘em farms.”

6. Be creative, be a wordsmith

Sit down and write mom a long letter (or sit her down and tell her verbally) as to why you love her and what she means to you. Either frame it or hand it to her on a pretty piece of stationary. It’s coming from the heart so it truly will be a one-of-a-kind gift.

7. To the Moon

For $29.99 you can buy her an acre on the moon, and she’ll feel like she’s just gone to outer space without ever leaving the house. Put up some outer space-themed party décor in her house to complete the theme.

8. Get her a pet

Go to an animal shelter and let mom pick out a dog, cat, or rabbit. She’ll love the idea of having a new four-legged friend she picked out herself and saved at the same time. Look up your local animal shelters or humane society and make an appointment before you go.

Do It Up!

Mother’s Day only comes once a year so be sure you honor mom with something that means a lot and a gift she can savor year-round.

3 Steps To Clean Up Your Credit Report

how to clean your credit report

Spring is here! While everyone begins this time of year with spring cleaning their homes and garages, it’s also a great time to clean up your credit report and work on rebuilding your credit.

If it’s been more than a year since you last checked your credit report, you may find unwanted or incorrect information accumulated over time. There are several things to look at beyond just accuracy, such as making sure that your credit cards and loans are the best ones for your current circumstances.

On top of that, if you’ve had a serious blow to your finances, such as defaults or bankruptcies, it can take quite some time to clean that stuff up and recoup any damages to your score. Start today, and you’ll have a head start now rather than when you find yourself wishing you’d done it sooner.

How To Clean Up Your Credit Report

1.  Get A Free Copy Of Your Credit Report

Free weekly credit reports have been extended for another year, so there’s no reason to hold off here. The first step to cleaning up your credit report is to have the report in front of you. Sites like CreditKarma and FreeCreditReport make it easy to see your report and understand how you can impact it.

NOTE: You’re going to want to pull the whole credit report, from all three bureaus – not just the scores.

2.  Thoroughly Check Your Credit Report(s)

Depending on your credit history, this could take a while, or it could be pretty quick. Either way, making sure that your information is correct and up to date is critical to building, rebuilding, repairing, and maintaining good credit.

Since lenders can choose which bureau they send info to, and how often, there will be slight differences on each report and that’s normal. But when you next apply for a loan or credit, different lenders look at different reports, so an error on one may not come up on another and you want to be prepared if the lender comes back to you with something like that.

3.  Resolve Errors By Filing A Dispute

Easy fixes: Credit inquiries stay for two years, but missed payments, delinquencies, and tax liens can stay on your report for seven. If it’s been longer than legal timelines, these items should have done what’s called “aged off” and not be on your report anymore.

You also want to look out for items that are flat-out inaccurate, such as your name and address, or worse, someone else’s name on your report, along with accounts you did not open yourself.

So be sure to get those errors corrected right away. You can dispute directly with each of the credit bureaus. If your dispute is valid, they are legally obligated to correct your report. It’s easy to dispute, by the way. You can do so online or via mail.

TransUnion Consumer
Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
 Chester, PA 19016
Equifax Information Services P.O. Box 740256 Atlanta, GA 30374Experian P.O. Box 4500
 Allen, TX 75013

In your letter (or in the form online), explain what information you think is inaccurate and why you’re filing the dispute. Ask for the error(s) to be removed or corrected, and try to include any evidence you have that can be used to back up your claim (payment receipts, for example). Credit bureaus have 30 days to review and take action, so make sure to check again to ensure they followed through.

Cleaning up your credit report today will ensure your credit is ready for your next goal, no matter what time of year it is, so be sure to stay on top of it all year round!