Effective money management could mean the difference between heading out to a fancy restaurant on your anniversary or dining on all-you-can-afford microwave noodles. Regardless of how little or much you and your spouse bring in, you can make the most of this cash by managing your money properly. As you settle down into the swing of married life, try some proven money management tips so that you can afford that luxury vacation you have always wanted instead of simply settling for a trip to the local park.
Set S.M.A.R.T. Financial Goals
By composing a S.M.A.R.T. goal, you can increase the effectiveness of the financial goal setting process. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time sensitive. By making sure that your goals have all of these characteristics, you make them more effective. For example, the goal, “I am going to save more money,” isn't very effective because you haven't set a way in which you will accomplish the goal, nor have you created a benchmark to use in determining whether you have in fact attained the goal. A much better goal would be, “I am going to save $100 by November 1st by packing my lunch instead of buying lunch out each day."
Analyze Your Spending
You can't effectively plug holes though which you are losing money unless you know where these holes are. To help yourself make wise financial choices, look through your credit card statement or keep receipts from your shopping trips. Create a list of categories to represent your spending patterns. For example, you could label one category coffee, another clothing and a third video rentals. Write down how much you spend in each category each month, and add up your total. If you notice that one category seems a little bloated, consider ways in which you could reduce the amount of money you are spending on that type of good or service.
Use Cash Over Credit
It is easy to overspend when using a credit card. If you find that you swipe away with abandon, retire your credit cards and opt instead to an old-fashioned stack of cash. By visiting the ATM at the start of the week and taking out a set sum of money, you can more easily monitor how much you spend during the week.
Create an Emergency Fund
As you set up your new household, dedicate yourself to creating an emergency stock-pile of cash. By setting aside some cash for things like an unexpected car break-down, a pipe rupturing or an emergency medical expense, you can avoid turning to credit and instead pay for these little extras with saved cash.
Decide on an Amount to Save Monthly
It is easy to put off the task of saving until next month. To avoid forever putting off starting that savings account or beginning your investment portfolio, commit yourself to setting aside a certain amount of money each month. Decide upon a figure with your spouse, and work together to ensure that you meet this set figure.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.