Love is a many splendored thing. That is, until you realize just how much it costs to be in a relationship. Think of all the Anniversary presents, Valentines presents, Birthday presents, and Christmas presents. Think of all the lavish dates and holidays you've gone to. You can even take into account the constant back and forth to each other's homes, especially if you live in a different city or state. You, my friend, are shelling out some serious dollars to keep the love alive. The good news is that you can keep love afire and still save. Here are a few tips:
Move In, Combine, and Consolidate
If you've gone passed the puppy love phase and have dubbed your sweetheart as a life partner, then it's most likely time for you to at least consider living together. Of course, there will be long talks of "Who moves into whose apartment?" or "Do we get a new or bigger place?". These talks will be especially long if you and your partner live in different cities or states because then you'd need to consider distance to your jobs or if one of you would get new ones closer to your new home.
Despite all the kinks that you have to work through, it'll still be advantageous for you and your partner to share a living space from a financial perspective. This is because you end up combining your finance to split the costs. Imagine sharing the bills for rent, utility, and groceries. If you're both using a single car, you can even split the costs on car leasing in Melbourne (if you're on a loan/lease), insurance, and petrol. This also gives you the opportunity to talk about consolidating other expenses like cell phone bills and digital subscriptions. It's much easier to save up when you're not tackling all living expenses on your own.
Talk About Money and Budget
They say communication is key to having a successful relationship. That concept does not only pertain to feelings but also finances. It all starts with deciding that you're in this (the relationship) for the long haul. Once you do, figuring out how you and your partner will actually be spending money to live together from this point on becomes an easy and logical next step. Your home will be more peaceful if you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to finances (among other things, of course).
You really don't want to be that couple who fights about how much debt is built up, how spending habits don't go well with other financial priorities, and generally how money should be handled. It's easy enough to combine your finances, but spending the money especially when you're used to spending for yourself can get a little tricky. Do you just combine all of your income? If so, is it still okay to spend that money for personal expenses like spa treatments or new golf clubs. Do you create a separate communal fund instead? The idea behind this is that when you know what both of your financial priorities and spending habits are, the easier it would be for you to put money away.
Get Romance On-The-Cheap
When you're in a relationship with someone, the need to impress the other person with frivolous things diminishes. You become comfortable around each other in sweatpants, dates turn from fancy restaurants to Netflix and Chill, and at some point you're going to want to have that spark of romance back in your lives. That's completely okay. However, your efforts of keeping the love alive shouldn't put a dent in your accounts. You don't need to go on a chopper ride, or book into an exclusive ski resort, or go on a yacht, or go fine dining every date night. There are ways for you to get romance on-the-cheap. Here are a few ideas:
- Light up a few scented candles, put up fairy lights, put on some smooth tunes, and create a romantic dinner for two in your own home.
- Opt for a staycation during holidays
- Spend a day in the Botanical Gardens. Have a nice picnic, play hide and seek, jump around the leaves together, walk amongst the flowers hand-in-hand. Turning the romance up a notch doesn't need elaborate bells and whistles. It's all about setting the right mood. The romantic garden setting doesn't hurt either.
- Have a game night, sans technology. When was the last time you switched off all the tech? Try Twisters, monopoly, or poker (yes, even the naughty version). Your games can be as wholesome or risque as you like. It's a great way to create a healthy tension from competition, and a great way to reconnect without the distractions of phones, computers, and TVs.
I'm not saying you can't do any of the fancy stuff. It's nice to treat yourself once in awhile but not all the time. Apart from taking a sizeable chunk out of your budget, doing so will make all the elaborate displays less special.
Build An Emergency Budget
Gone are the days when one income stream was enough to sustain a family. With the sky high prices of rent, utilities and other daily expenses, most young couples need at least two income streams to live comfortably and save. When bills are starting to pile up and you turn to retail therapy or travel to keep your sanity, savings tend to take a back seat in your list of priorities. You don't need to starve yourself and do extreme savings, just make sure that you put a little away for a rainy day.
You hardly ever appreciate emergency budgets until disaster strikes. What happens when one of you becomes ill, loses a job, or it's a slow month in business? What if a sudden hailstorm or bushfire damages your home? Life has a way of surprising you and if you're not prepared, things can turn from bad to ugly in a heartbeat. Experts say that you should aim to save 6 months worth of your household expenses. I say make that the bare minimum in case you suddenly lose an income stream or have a major expense to take care of.