Staying on budget is like starting a new diet - it can be difficult to begin, impossible to resist splurging, and works a hell of a lot better with some support. Make being frugal fun, flirty, and yes, manageable, by getting your partner on board. By Brie Schwartz, REDBOOK.
Cook the books
Playing chef can be one of the easiest ways to increase your profits, and doing so doesn't mean skimping on ingredients or romance. Buy succulent cuts of steak and salmon, dim the lights, shut off your phones, and decant a bottle of Merlot that would have cost four times as much at a fine restaurant. Bonus: it's totally not tacky to smooch at the table. Then, put your savings towards a truly special, decadent date night. Hate the kitchen? Error-proof meals made in the slow cooker can be prepped quickly before work and are easily stretched throughout the week. On the weekends, bag the expensive brunch and eat breakfast in bed, which may just lead to a steamy afternoon of other gratis activities.
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Make him sweat
Instead of investing in an expensive gym, find other ways to accelerate your heart rate. You neither need to leave your home or buy equipment to get hot spotting each other. Becoming fit as a couple will give you a low-cost endorphin-rush every night, and it's the perfect way to stay motivated. Once you're respectively bikini- and Speedo-ready, put the money you would have spent on your membership towards a trip somewhere without treadmills. You deserve a break!
Taking up a novel activity with your guy is a sure way to keep your love life interesting, but new hobbies often require an initial investment. Catey Hill, finance columnist and author of Shoo, Jimmy Choo! The Modern Girl's Guide to Spending Less and Saving More, recommends using NeighborGoods or SnapGoods to borrow whatever you need. Or, better yet, the Freecycle Network lists items people are giving away. To purchase goods on the cheap, check out Garage Sales Tracker or Yard Sale Search.
Related: 25 Lazy Ways to Save Money
Lacking the funds for a trip to the beach? Transport yourself to a tropical oasis without spending money on airfare. Stream ocean images from your computer to your TV using an HDMI cord, prepare a carpet picnic with fresh pineapple and tilt a fan towards you to feel the cool sea breeze. At bedtime, switch to a picture of a twinkling skyline and imagine you're sleeping at a lavish hotel. The more make-believe you play, the closer you'll be to your actual dream view.
Stir things up
Saving money for a vacation? Instead of shelling out $20 for a round of drinks at a bar, play mixologist at home. Muddle up some mint mojitos, and put the money you would have spent towards your first beach beverage. "Saving money means delaying gratification, and human beings would rather have whatever they want right now," says financial expert and Today Show contributor Jean Chatzky. "If you're trying to save for savings sake, it's even harder. Instead, have an image - or three - in your mind of what you're saving for." Visualizing your money going into a tropical thrill will make staying in on a Saturday so worth it.
Skip the spa
Though he might not be a trained technician, we bet your husband still gives a good massage - after all, he does it with love. Plus, you won't feel shy telling him where your pressure points are. Pay him to rub out your kinks instead of handing cash to a pro.
Related: Are You Woman Enough to Be the Boss?
Put a wager on it
Don't spend another evening slogging through your DVR, arguing over the merits of Family Guy verses Nashville. Instead, challenge each other to a high-stakes game of Trivial Pursuit or (strip) Scrabble. The loser puts money into your joint savings account, so you're both technically winners in the end.
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