School is hard and managing a relationship at the same time can be not only difficult, but costly as well. Except in the case of those friends who think their significant other should pay for every meal (you know who you are), the rest of us feel guilty allowing our other half to take care of all our meals, give us gifts on every holiday, occasional bouquets of flowers, etc. when they’re not even working while in school.
Upon conducting a survey of friends who are dating at the moment, I have found that most of us feel the same way: while love may be priceless, meaningful birthday gifts (not of the handmade, knitted, hand-sewn, etc. variety) are not. Since my friends are sweet, they gave me some advice that I have organized into a short list for you:
On the topic of eating out:
When spending lunch time with each other (read: studying at the library, meeting up in between classes), divide “picnic” duties between yourselves: one person prepares a homemade lunch at home to share with the other. What this means is that not only are you eating a healthy, home-cooked meal, you may be able to find these items in your parent’s fridge (those same parents who will be delighted that you are eating out less and perhaps replenish their fridges often and/or provide you money for groceries). Also, what a great excuse to brag that your boy/girlfriend cooks for you (heh heh)!
Try to also designate only one night a week when you actually eat out (aka “date night”). This way, you can not only save money while packing lunches the rest of the week, you might actually be able to eat some “real food” (instead of say, grabbing some fast food).
On the topic of hanging out:
Couples are able to do all sorts of things single people aren’t. For example, one might be able to share their embarrassing love of museums with their significant other and drag them there every Wednesday when it is free for students. Pick activities that both of you enjoy, without doing things that are too over the top.
On the topic of birthdays, anniversaries and holidays:
I found that most of my friends agreed that going all-out for every holiday was too excessive. A simple dinner to acknowledge Valentine’s Day was enough for one of my friends, as both saved the money for presents and used it to buy an extra-special gift and dinner for a soon-approaching birthday. (This may not be the case for everyone though – one of my couple-friends celebrated their 22nd, 100th, 200th and 300th days together and a bunch of other holidays… though this is part of their cultural norm.)
So what about you guys – how do you manage your relationship finances?