When it comes to finances in a marriage, budget for personal expenses, then don’t ask and don’t tell. This marriage advice will save a lot of arguments and even more marriages.
Personal expenses can be a point of contention between couples.
I will show you that if you set a budget, use cash, and plan ahead, you can save big.
This is the fifth post in the series where I am writing about my experience with The $1,000 Challenge by Brian J. O’Connor. My goal is to save $1,000 each month on my expenses: $100 savings in each of 10 spending categories.
Last time, I know I said “I’m really excited about this category, as it tends to include lots of discretionary items, which can be cut,” but now I’m not so sure.
This month’s expense category is personal expenses, which includes:
- ATM/bank fees
- nail care
- lunch; and any
- other personal needs.
My goal is to trim $100 from these expenses.
One of my goals in this challenge is to make easy cuts to my budget that are not emotionally draining. While a few of these are necessary expenses, there are still ways to trim them.
Throughout the challenge, my level of intensity has been “freeing up extra cash,” to lower my monthly costs. I am applying my savings on these expenses toward paying down a large debt I have.
There are many more extreme and creative ways to save money if you are trying to make ends meet or can barely take care of basic necessities.
The good thing about my “freeing up extra cash” mindset is that the changes I’ve made so far only require me to get gas at a particular gas station, make one call to cancel an add-on I had forgotten about, go online to change my monthly service plan, or something similar.
In other words, they are fairly easy changes.
In the book, Brian pointed out that most of the personal expenses were already part of other expense categories. His tactics included limiting his discretionary budget to $40 each for him and his wife, to save $104, each month.
Here’s my review of “personal expenses”:
How to Save Money on Bank Fees
I bank with a credit union, so I don’t have any monthly minimum balance requirements or monthly fees.
I used to take out cash at whatever ATM was available but now I only use my credit union’s ATM for a savings of $15 per month. Do what you can to avoid fees (meet minimums, follow rules, use a credit union, shop around, etc.).
The author recommends that we withdraw weekly or bi-weekly allotment for babysitters, entertainment, and spending cash. Debit/credit cards seem like magic money; instead, use cash in an envelope. Spending with cash makes you physically uncomfortable.
You can avoid overdrafts by balancing your account and leaving a cushion. If available, sign up for text message/email alerts to warn you when you’re account is getting low.
Pay big, regular expenses out of checking and discretionary out of cash.
How to Save Money on Lunch
To save on lunch costs, I pack my lunch (sandwich, soup, salad, leftovers, frozen dinners).
The author recommends that we buy supplies during the regular grocery run (i.e. five frozen meals, two bags frozen vegetables, six beverages).
Make coffee at work or bring your own beverage. Stay on track by enjoying a variety of foods and environments (desk, conference room, outside, etc.). Enjoy your co-workers or family’s fellowship.
Give up having a lot of cheap conveniences in exchange for a few high-quality indulgences.
How to Save Money on Haircuts
When I first started to cut my monthly budgets I used to go to a local salon. Now I get my haircut at a national chain and I ask for the same stylist each time.
If you are just starting out, shop around, seek out the weekly special (i.e. go on a particular day), use a coupon, or ask if competitor coupons are accepted.
This is how I managed to save $25 a month off of my hair expenses. If you don’t like any of these tips, decide that’s how you want to spend your personal expense budget and be done with it.
How to Save Money on Nail Care
Nail care is a commodity in most places; we usually like who we like. With most beauty services, you usually get what you pay for.
My best tip for saving would be to go only as often as you need to (i.e. if every 3 weeks works, instead of every 2 weeks, then you’ve just cut 8-9 sessions a year!
I also try to use long-lasting products (i.e. gel polish instead of traditional polish). By making these changes I was able to save $7 a month.
I love what the author says – “Personal money is just that: personal. It’s the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ category of family finances.”
Budget it, then don’t ask/ don’t tell. This will save a lot of arguments and even more marriages.
Remember that everything is relative. Review your expenses to see where you can make cutbacks based on your goals and level of comfort.
This month I was able to cut my expenses by $47! That is 564 dollars a year!
While reviewing my monthly transportation expenses in the first month, I was able to make a few small changes that yielded a savings of over $50 each month.
In the second month’s review of my utility expenses, I was able to trim nearly $80 each month by simply changing the way I pay bills.
The third month brought in a savings of $61.
The author’s review of work expenses yielded a savings of $90. That was a grand total saved of $328 each month. That is $3,936 per year!
Come back next week to see if I was able to trim $100 from my monthly entertainment spending.
To read this series from the beginning start here: