You may have recently heard that divorces and separations are on the rise in Singapore. I'm betting $50 that a good number of the marriages soured due to money matters.
I'm betting another $50 that betting is one of the root causes of money problems among couples. I should really stop betting.
No matter where you are in your relationship, whether you're just starting out with casual dates or planning for your wedding banquet or even preparing for a child, you should definitely get into the habit of saving money as a couple.
Because in a relationship, having money set aside often means less stress, less arguments and the wonderful opportunity to strengthen your bonds by meeting financial goals together.
Here are seven easy ways that you can start saving money as a couple. And remember, this is less about being "cheap" than about being motivated to achieve financial independence as a couple.
1. Eat Out Less Often
Regardless of how deep the relationship is, this is the first step to saving money.
Dating in Singapore naturally revolves around food, and the ambience of a romantic setting often comes at a premium. In our land-scarce city, it's really tough to save money when you eat out.
Even hawker centres and food courts can get really expensive.
I paid $3 for a single chicken drumstick the other night on a date, and it wasn't even at a KFC outlet.
Darling, I said I'd let it go, but I can't. $3?!? Really?!?
2. Cook a Meal At Home Instead
Even if neither of you are Masterchefs, just cooking a simple meal together can be an opportunity to learn more about each other.
You'll find out quickly if your partner is neat or messy, if they're precise or laid back, intense or carefree just by helping them prepare food in the kitchen.
Oh, and guys? Here's a lifehack - regardless of who cooks, offer to do the dishes after.
3. Look Out For Group Discounts When Watching Movies
No matter how close you are as a couple, you can't be spending all your time together, just the two of you.
Trust me, it pays to spice it up by involving other people. No, not in that way. Gosh, get your mind out of the gutter.
What I mean is taking advantage of group discounts. For example, if you book four movie tickets at Golden Village online using a Visa credit card, you only pay for being able to take advantage of offers that come along with your credit card extends beyond just this example of movies.
Thus, taking a bit of time to compare credit cards and choosing the best one for your lifestyle is time well spent.
4. Speaking Of Credit Cards, Try Consolidating Them
There are so many credit cards in Singapore, and each has their own advantages. Since you're in a relationship and doing most things together, why not share credit cards?
Now, just before you remind me that the point of this article is to save money and not spend it, let me just explain.
No matter how good the benefits of a credit card, they always come with certain requirements, like minimum spending each month.
The OCBC 365 Card, for example, only gives you better cash back rebates if your expenditure on that card comes up to at least $600 a month.
That might be hard for a single person to do, but you can take advantage of being a couple by consolidating your credit card spending.
Since there are two of you working towards that minimum expenditure requirement, you'll not feel obliged or tempted to spend more than necessary.
5. As a Couple, Know One Another's Spending Weaknesses
No matter how careful we are with our money, we all have at least one spending weakness. Whether it be clothes, gadgets, shoes or bags, there's always a chance that we'll end up splurging the money that we'd spent a month (or more!) saving up.
It gets worse with online shopping, because it's so much easier to go overboard when you aren't lugging heavy shopping bags around the mall.
Letting your partner know what your spending weaknesses are creates a sense of accountability. Ideally, this should be your last line of defence against spending if your own self-control fails.
Basically, if you see her heading towards Topshop, or if he's gravitating towards the Apple Store, you as the loving partner need to hold on a little tighter.
Of course, remember that it's one thing to be accountable to one another, it's another to be annoying. Don't police your partner.
Remember, staying in the relationship is usually what saves you money. Being single could cost more than being married.
6. When the Time Is Right, Move In Together
Assuming you aren't already living together as a couple, you might want to consider it if the situation allows.
That being said, there are situations where cohabitating before marriage can make it harder to save money. For one thing, you wouldn't be eligible to buy a HDB flat as a single person below 35 years old.
You'll only be eligible for private condominiums or other private properties and that can be quite expensive initially. Getting a home loan with the best interest rate would definitely help reduce the costs.
However, if either one of you is above 35, then you would be eligible for a two-room BTO HDB flat, or a larger resale flat. Furthermore, depending on which Singles scheme you apply under, there are several housing grants that you may be eligible for, which we've done up an entire list for here.
In modern day Singapore, when cohabitation isn't quite the moral quandary it used to be, sharing a house together (no matter the size) could save you both a significant amount of money.
Among other things, your utilities bill becomes easier to manage when you split the cost.
7. When Furnishing a New Place, Look For Cheaper Alternatives
Recently, Art Loft provided us with some stylish recommendations for furnishing on a budget. Check out how you can furnish your Living Room and Bedroom for under $1000 each.
If this is beyond your budget, try hunting for bargains at thrift shops and flea markets. Or even better, ask your friends and family if they have old but good furniture that they may be thinking of getting rid of.
You'd be surprised how many people are more than happy to give away their used furnishings as an excuse to buy new ones. And as a couple, you'll have more contacts to reach out to.
This article first appeared in MoneySmart at http://blog.moneysmart.sg/saving/7-simple-ways-couples-can-save-more-money-in-singapore/
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