finance

3 couples share what they're saving up for, and exactly how they're doing it.

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Money and financial stress can become one of the biggest sources of frustration, tension and worry in relationships.

That’s why it’s so important to talk about it openly and identify what each person’s priorities are when it comes to both spending and saving for milestones such as weddings, having children, house deposits, holidays or other spendy purchases that make life sweeter.

While there’s no one right way to do things, what is important is having a strategy to get there. And if you’re not sure how, you can always ask for help.

Mamamia asked three couples to share their saving goals with us, from covering a maternity leave to saving for a house deposit, and detail what steps they’ve taken to get there.

To see how each couple is tracking, we’ve also asked My Budget founder Tammy Barton to share her expert tips on what they’re doing right, and what they could do better to reach their savings goals quicker.

Tammy and Bob – Saving for a house deposit.

For Tammy and Bob, both in their 30s, their current money goals revolve around saving for a deposit on an investment property which will eventually become their family home, for them and their two children.

“Basically in our 20s we wasted all our money travelling and when we fell pregnant with my daughter, we just kind of panicked, and went ‘How did we not think about actually setting ourselves up?'” she says.

“We’re very much motivated to not spend too much excess money now.”

how to save couples
Image: Supplied.

After reading a personal finance book, they made it a priority to put the bulk of their money into a joint savings account, which they don't have card access to.

In order to reach their goal quicker, her husband also does military deployment to boost their savings, with that extra money going straight into their savings fund.

And while they do monthly budget check-ins, and both have access to their savings and expense accounts, Tammy is in charge of their daily household finances.

"It obviously makes more sense for me to look after the accounts while he's deployed, but I'm also more naturally inclined to be more meticulous with it," she says.

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"It's been three years of solid saving, but we've got a very specific goal we're trying to get to, and we're getting kind of close to that deposit now."

What MyBudget's Tammy Barton says:

"It’s never too late to start saving," says Tammy, who notes that a lot of people enjoy themselves in their 20s, before suddenly switching their mindset in their 30s.

"Tammy and Bob are certainly on the right track with their saving goals – they’re putting extra money away regularly, finding ways to earn more, and they have a budget that they run against every month so that they know they aren’t overspending," she says.

Despite this, saving up for a house deposit (normally 20 per cent), and the price of the property, is only part of the equation.

"Anticipate all of your costs. You must also factor in stamp duty, mortgage insurance [if applicable], home and contents insurance, legal fees, bank charges, and moving costs," says Tammy.

"There are also flow-on costs to consider. Most people want to do some sort of home improvements when they move in, or you may also want new furniture. Ensure that your budgeted savings can cover these ‘extras’ so that you’re prepared for any ‘surprises’ ahead."

Other important things to consider before you tie your financial future to a mortgage include: ensuring you're not over-committing yourself, and budgeting for any possible interest rate rises, and getting ahead early by paying more than the minimum required instalment on your loan.

 

Tara and Michael - Saving for maternity leave... or a holiday.

After getting into credit card debt over their first child, Tara and Michael, both 27, wanted to ensure they had a plan before they even started trying for another baby.

"We decided at the start of the year that if we were going to have another baby, we wouldn't get into more credit card debt, which is what happened with the first," Tara tells Mamamia.

"We both earn good wages, but we also earn a very even amount, so if one of us took time off, 50 per cent of the income would fall away."

And so they knew, they would have to make up the difference somehow. Tara and Michael then made the joint decision that she would be the one to look after their household budget, meaning that she controls how much of their income goes into their joint savings account, and how much is left for their expenses, which they also share.

"We asked ourselves whether we wanted two sets of eyes on it, or whether we wanted to leave one person responsible, and so we made the decision that I would give up some of my other tasks to look after our budget," she says.

"I'm very transparent about it and he has access to all the accounts, but for my husband, he just has to know that there's money card on his card, and that I'll tell him otherwise'."

how to save couples
Image: Supplied.

When it comes to their saving strategy, Tara says she's an "out of sight, out of mind saver".

"I'm definitely a spreadsheet person, but I'm also very goal-orientated. I worked out how much money we would need for three months of unpaid mat-leave, and that gave us our starting point," she says, describing her process.

"I then worked out how much we could afford to put away based on our expenses, and this went into a completely separate bank account, with no card access."

And while they've yet to 100 per cent decide whether they will indeed have a second child, Tara says it's good to have options.

"We didn't want to repeat the same mistakes as last time, so we thought that before we even try and have another kid, let's make sure we have a plan," she says.

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"However, we know that should we could choose to not have the baby, we could go on a holiday instead."

What MyBudget's Tammy Barton says:

As a mother of three, Tammy knows that while having a baby is a special and life-changing event, they're also major "budget busters".

"Tara and Michael's story is a very normal one. It’s easy to get into credit card debt after having a baby. Not only do you have more expenses but generally speaking most people lose some form of income, if not a whole income," she says.

"It’s great that Tara and Michael are financially aware of their situation and putting a plan in place so that they’re prepared for their future. It’s very important to create a revised household budget before the baby arrives. Your new budget should take into account your reduced household income and extra expenses.

"Tara’s factored in the cost of her time out of the work force which is perfect, and she should also include how her baby is going to be cared for when she does go back to work."

For first-time parents, Tammy also recommends paying for one-off items before the baby is born.

"Even better, borrow equipment and accept hand-me-downs, because babies aren’t babies for very long," she says.

"If you do need to buy some big items, consider quality second hand items. As long as they’re in good condition and meet Australian Standards, they’ll do the job as well as new stuff."

Alicia and Brendon - Saving for a wedding.

For Alicia, 31, and Brendon, 34, they've been together for long enough - 14 years exactly - to know what works for them.

Alicia says her fiancé is a "budget wizard", so he splits her bills and expenses and she'll pay him back.

"We have always had separate bank accounts and I rely on him to split everything straight down the middle when it comes to the bills," Alicia tells Mamamia.

"He gives me a post-it note every month with a lovely little message, with what I owe him based on the things we share, like rent, electricity and more.

"We also each pay our own way when it comes to our personal expenditures, like our cars and phones.

how to save couples
Image: Supplied.

Although Brendon earns more than Alicia money-wise, she still prefers to split their expenses equally, and it's a formula that's proven successful for them.

"He earns more than me, but I've always insisted on paying my own way," she says. "We take turns on date nights, he'll buy dinner, and I'll buy the movie. It works for us. I can't see it ever changing, who knows!"

When it comes to ensuring everything gets paid for their wedding, they use a Google Spreadsheet to keep track of their vendors, and pay for everything equally.

"One of us will pay and we will either put it down as an IOU half, or it may break even with another purchase," she says.

"For example, he bought the venue, and I did the catering."

What MyBudget's Tammy Barton says:

"It’s easy to get carried away with wedding plans because a wedding is a very emotional event. You want the day to be perfect, which means you’re more likely to let expenses get out of control," says Tammy.

Instead she says couples can eliminate that risk by making a commitment to not go into debt for your wedding and write your guest list, before you even think about setting a date.

"Alicia and Brendan’s technique on sharing expenses equally between them is fantastic, but they’ll also need to use existing savings or create a savings plan to pay for their big day," she adds.

"Work out what you would like to spend on a wedding, ideally. Then look to work out what time frame you have to save that amount before your wedding. For example, if your wedding is going to cost $30,000 and you’re getting married in 18 months, then you will need to save $384 per week.

Then enter this into your budget and see if your savings plan is realistic, and adjust if necessary. I strongly suggest everyone works out what they can afford to spend before booking anything."

Making savings goals isn't easy. But, with a little know-how, you can get there.

For more about what MyBudget can do to help you save, visit mybudget.com.au.

Are you in a relationship? What are you saving goals and how do you split it between you and your partner? Tell us in a comment below.

MyBudget

No matter what your goal is—to save money, tackle debt, stop living week-to-week, sort out your finances or simply free up time—MyBudget is here to help. Visit mybudget.com.au to find out more

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