5 Ways We Spend on Our Marriage
What’s one value that should absolutely make its way into your values-based spending plan? Your marriage (if you’re married, of course)! Let’s face it: the health of your marriage is very important, but it’s also easy to ignore.
People may avoid spending on these areas because they perceive that it will be very expensive. As with anything, you could use the label “value” to justify lots of ridiculous spending. No one needs to spend hundreds of dollars a month in order to prioritize marriage.
It’s true you can’t buy love, but don’t cheap out on your marriage. That’s like telling your spouse, “Honey, I love money more than I love you.”
Here are 5 ways we spend on our marriage, and three price-points that should satisfy anyone
1. An annual getaway.
Before having kids, we jaunted around the world when we wanted to and could hang out alone at home. Now we’re in full-time parenting mode and quality time has to be planned ahead–and away. So we escape alone together for a night or two once a year. If you can pull it off twice a year, even better!
We are very grateful to my mom for babysitting for the weekend of our 11th anniversary this year. Getting an overnight sitter isn’t the easiest task for some, but it’s worth the effort if at all possible. More on that below.
The $$$$ way: Dinner at the city’s fanciest steakhouse, tickets to the best show in town, and drinks at a posh bar afterward. Pay full-price for nice hotel. (Seriously, this is not a terrible way to spend your money once a year.)
The $$ way: Book free hotel with rewards points. Our weekend away included free entertainment like the beautiful city library and art museum (I’m a hopeless nerd). We spent on our favorite ethnic foods and incidentals like parking. We packed snacks and drinks for the hotel.
The broke way: Drop them off at sitters, head home, promise not to clean or fix anything, explore free entertainment in your town, prepare meals together, or inexpensive local dining.
2. Monthly dates.
Getting outside your home and spending time together really makes a difference when you’re in the thick of parenting or just the busyness of life. It’s easy to be tempted to clean up, work on projects, or veg out in front of the TV. Netflix and take-out is a great way to relax, but in my experience, not always the best way to connect. Especially when dinner conversation consists of talking about Star Wars with a five-year-old. Again.
The $$$$ way: Fancy dinner and a movie (or other pricey entertainment) every time.
The $$ way: Moderate dinner, split an entrée, go to relatively inexpensive place like Chipotle or whatever you like. Neil maintains that our best dates have been at Taco Bell. We also like hiking, biking, or visiting parks or thrift stores. Sharing a common hobby or experience together is a great relationship- builder. Dating is about connection, not consumption.
The broke way: Get takeout during lunch specials, and reheat after kids the kids are in bed. Turn off the TV, hide your phones, light a candle, pour a glass of box wine, and try to stay awake. Or go out for ice cream, coffee, or a walk.
#1 and #2 may require another expense: babysitters. We realize not everyone is as fortunate as we are in this department. But there are plenty of options for finding a sitter, and worth the effort to find one. A good babysitter is an invaluable asset for your family.
If you don’t know anyone who can watch your kids, I’d suggest trying to forge a relationship with someone who can. Think neighbors, friends, local high school or college students, people from church, or resources like Care.com. And if the cost is a concern, I’d recommend looking for other areas to cut back in to allow for some childcare spending.
The $$ way: We hire a sitter for our weekly home church, and events or dates when our parents or friends aren’t available.
The broke way: We also swap babysitting with other families, and ask friends and family members.
I’m not a made-up kind of girl, but I do occasionally purchase new clothing or makeup to look nice for my husband. This is an area where you need to “know thyself.” If you live in yoga pants and haven’t showered in three days (moms represent!), maybe you could allocate $20 for sprucing up for your next outing. If you have a history of over-spending in this area, mix it up with what you already have.
In short, I try not to look like complete hell all the time, just to save money.
The $$$$ way: Buy a new outfit for every event. (NEVER!)
The $$ way: Occasional thrift store or clearance chic for a special occasion, or update “date night shirt”.
The broke way: Borrow clothes from a same-size friend or family member. Or ask a talented friend to do your make-up or hair for your next date.
Some people don’t exchange gifts with their spouse because they are frugal. We choose to buy gifts for one another, because we are frugal. We often delay purchases and ask for the item as a gift. Or surprise each other with something we noticed the other could use. After 14 years together, we are way past any danger of trying to buy each other’s love. But gifts can be a thoughtful way to express love, and some people feel particularly loved this way. If your spouse is one of them, please give them gifts!
The $$$$ way: Pricey gifts for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Anniversary, MLK Day (j/k).
The $$ way: Modest gifts for Christmas & birthdays.
The broke way: Skip the gifts to save money. Craft them something, make a special dinner, or write a heartfelt card.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Neil went all out for me this Christmas. I’m typing this on a new laptop! In addition to its killer specs, it has amazing features such as being able to close the screen, having all the keys connected to the keyboard, and not crashing if you don’t put it in sleep mode. Thanks Neil!
How do you spend on your significant other? Where do you tend to fall on the broke-to-$$$$ spectrum?