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4 money-saving tips for couples

4 money-saving tips for couples
Couples should discuss their finances -- including any debt each brings to the marriage -- to come up with a shared vision before the wedding. (Getty Images)

Having the same goals as your partner is important, whether they involve your careers, family or finances. It helps to be working together toward the same things.

If one partner has the goal of getting out of debt while the other is constantly spending, there's bound to be friction. It's important to discuss these differences and make a plan to address any issues as a couple.

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Having extra cash on hand will help you work toward goals such as paying off student loans, saving up for a wedding or a down payment on a house, or starting a family. Here are four simple ways couples can start saving money today:

1. Rethink date night

How often do the two of you have a date night? Some couples have a weekly date night during which they go out to a fancy restaurant, order drinks and then do an activity afterward, like a movie or bowling. An evening like that can quickly add up to more than $100.

If you want to save money together, you may have to change what you do together. Keep date night a tradition, but decide on a spending limit that supports your goals and then get creative. You can have a "no technology night" where your turn off all devices, or a Netflix marathon, or cook up some food and play board games at your kitchen table. Make date night about spending time together, not about paying an expensive bill.

2. Declare a ‘no dining out’ month

The money you spend eating out adds up quickly. Even fast food, lattes and vending machine snacks can slowly empty your pockets. Choose one month and commit to making all your meals at home, including brown bagging your lunch for work. Then, fight the temptation to stop at the drive-through or grab a sandwich at the office deli. You'll have saved a substantial amount of money by the end of the month.

3. Forgo gifts for a while

While you're looking to reach specific financial goals, make a pact that you won't buy each other lavish birthday, anniversary or holiday presents. Couples often spend hundreds of dollars on these special occasion gifts. By putting that amount into a savings account toward your financial goals, you're both still receiving a gift.

4. Plan a staycation

Instead of planning your annual getaway, consider having a staycation this year. You and your partner can take the same week off from work and do fun things around town together. Rent a movie, have an at-home wine-tasting adventure, go for a hike or pack a picnic. There are likely many activities you can do that are close to home and inexpensive. Keep your savings goal in mind and let vacations be relaxing and rejuvenating, instead of draining your bank account.

Track your savings

As you follow these suggestions, keep a log on the kitchen counter that you use to write down how much you saved on a purchase that was reduced or forgone. Keeping a running tally of your savings can be exciting as you watch them grow and bring you closer to your goals.

Of course it's fun to splurge and do new things or go to fancy meals together. But the most important part of your relationship is that you're spending quality time together. Making sacrifices and staying the course together can make your relationship stronger and improve your financial position at the same time.

Kurt Smith is a financial and relationship counselor at Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching. He is an advisor at NerdWallet, a personal finance website.

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