Enjoy a Romantic Valentine’s Day Without Breaking the Bank

Valentine’s Day is the day to celebrate romantic love, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Men in the United States spend an average of $275 on Valentine’s Day, and women spend an average of $150. The question I must ask is this: whom are we trying to impress? The underlying sentiment of the day is wonderful, but we don’t need to celebrate it as a Hallmark Holiday.

The first question a frugal person would ask is who. Who we intend Valentine’s Day with should set the tone for how much we spend. If you are single and don’t have a date it is a good night to stay home. Or, if you are a member of a singles group try their event for people in the same situation. One of the MeetUp.com groups near the Frugal Goddess is having a Singles Awareness Dinner. This “group date” won’t cost any more than the average night out. Or-if you are politically minded, join one of the events raising awareness of violence towards women. Or show your love to the world by volunteering at a shelter. You may have friends that are lonely. You could send them all a Valentine’s Day message. It may be the only one some of them receive. There are lots of ways to experience love.

If you have a date but it is with someone new—now is not the time to shoot the moon with big spending. Just going out on Valentine’s Day sets up expectations that put pressure on a budding relationship. Spending way too much just adds another layer. If you really like your date, try to just enjoy their company. There are many ways to have a romantic evening that aren’t expensive. Try a walk in the moonlight or a trip to a skating rink. The most important thing is to find out what your date really enjoys and do that.

If you are spending Valentine’s Day with your long-term partner you have the easiest time of all—just pick something special you both have wanted to do but have put off, and do it. You know each other very well and have plenty of time. This is also the case where a little extra spending won’t hurt, as long as you have it in the budget. Of course you might be tired on the Valentine’s Day. Why not just have a relaxing evening at home and plan to go out when the restaurants in your area aren’t swamped?

The one time you might want to go all out with Valentine’s Day spending is if you are planning to propose marriage to your sweetheart. That is a big deal and it makes sense to make it special. So—if this is your plan, go ahead and spend!

Whatever your situation the Frugal Goddess wishes you all the love in the world.


She’s Frugal and He Isn’t—How to Handle It


Another Money Fight!

Handling money wisely can be hard enough when there is only one person involved. Frugality, though very rewarding, takes work. But, as a single person your own needs and desires are the only concern. This becomes much more complicated when another person with their own viewpoints and needs comes into the mix. It is complicated even if the two of you are as alike as can be. So we can just imagine has difficult it becomes when the two of you have radically different ideas about spending and saving.

Fights about money are very high on the list of things that cause trouble in relationships and marriages. Money fights can even lead to divorce.  And even if there is no fighting, having a real spendthrift as a partner can lower your quality of life, or even leave you in a very difficult financial predicament if they should die before you. So getting this right is serious business.

If you are just starting out in a relationship with someone that you suspect has a wildly different idea about spending you have plenty of options, and no real obligations. Just keep the money separate until you are sure that any problems have been worked out-which may be forever. And don’t let your self be forced to spend more than you are comfortable with for any joint activities.

If you are living with your spendy partner already but are not married, now is the time to separate the money. They might get mad, but this is better than you getting broke. One thing that works is the three-account plan. One account for you, one for your sweetie, and one for the house. You are then able to control your money while still contributing to the household. There are differing views on figuring the household contribution. Some say it should be equal, but the Frugal Goddess prefers to have each contribute a share commensurate with their income.

To figure this out, add both incomes together. Then divide the by smaller of the two incomes by the combined total. This will be the percentage of household expenses paid by the person with the smaller income.

For example: If she makes $2500 a month, and he makes $1500 a month, the total income is $4000. So, divide $1500 by $4000. The result is .375. Now let us imagine that the total household expenses are $2000. He would pay $750 a month, and she would pay $1350. Each would retain control of the rest of their own money.

The household account should cover housing, food, home insurance, and anything else that is shared. Personal phone bills, and individual car expenses if each has their own car would not be included. Each couple has to decide for themselves what should be shared.

If you are thinking of marrying a spendy person when you are frugal, I would recommend a pre-nup that details the extent of your financial involvement before the fact, and, if you are in a community property state will serve as a protection on your future earnings. It may not be romantic, but neither is being poor when you didn’t have to be and it wasn’t your fault.

If you are already married you are in a bit of a predicament. Have you had a heart to heart with your spouse? If so, and no agreement was reached, or agreements have been broken, you may have to take stronger action. It may be good to consult a lawyer and find out if you can protect yourself and remain married. If this is your situation I wish you the best of luck. For the rest of us—romance is much more satisfying when our financial boundaries are not being violated. So take action now to make sure that being in love is not the same as being subject to the whims of another.

Frugal Romance-Dating on a Dime


A Bottle for Two by the Fire

If you are one of the millions of singles out there you face a lot of bumps is the road already. Going broke in the pursuit of a great date shouldn’t be one of them. We are taught in this culture that we need to spend a pile of money to capture the heart of our crush, or even to enjoy a little romance. But this is misleading. Spending too much can actually hurt your chance for dating success, and not just in the wallet.

Dating experts know that trying too hard (i.e. spending a bundle) can actually be a turn off in the early stages of dating. This is because it makes the suitor/spender look too eager at a time when the other party isn’t sure how they feel. So the less of a big deal the better for both parties. Attraction is built on small shared experiences and a little mystery.

A big splurge, say on a great but expensive restaurant or romantic getaway, CAN be very romantic. Just save it for the first anniversary. If you start of at that level of spending you will likely be expected to keep it up, and what are you going to do for an encore.

Another issue is the possibility that your intended partner is a frugal person that might actually be turned off by a large impressive display of consumer prowess. It is a good idea to know someone before you try too hard to impress them. It will save you from mistakes that cost more than just money.

So, what are you going to do instead? After the first coffee date which is a nice frugal activity, the options are many. If the weather is nice get outside. Taking a walk, either in the country or through an interesting neighborhood, provides a chance to converse. And the walking helps dispel any dating jitters. Or, for a longer get together, try a picnic. If you cook the food yourself it won’t cost any more than a normal lunch at home. Find a pretty spot and share a sandwich.

For the more active try riding bikes together or horses if you are in the part of the country where horses are common. Take a swim at the local swimming hole. Get out and dance at a community event. Many locales have free outdoor music in the summer. Check your local listings for all kinds of free community events.

If the weather is iffy go to a movie matinee. This will be less expensive and more casual than an evening show. Or go to a busy café and people watch. Or go play chess at a café that features chess sets. In the evening many cities have open mics where you can go hear a line-up of local talent for the cost of a beer.

The possibilities are endless. Pick out something so interesting you would do it by yourself and enjoy every minute. Then ask your crush to join you. It helps to find out their interests first though. It is how you treat your date and how the two of you feel about each other that create the sparks. So go get your local events listings, put on you thinking hat, and get ready to dial. Happy dating!

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