When you find the love of your life you kind of want to do stuff. The trouble is that stuff (like trying new restaurants and traveling) costs a lot of money. If you’re broke, it can be difficult to bond over the things most couples bond over (like trying new restaurants and traveling. Did we mention how expensive those are?) So here’s some guidance on how not to let being broke ruin your relationship.
Going to the movies, with snacks, is easily $25 per person—that’s a $50 date night. If you go to one of those new theaters with cocktails, you’re looking at $40 per person. So when you’re broke, you can’t exactly be caught up on what’s in theaters.
Make movie night a real thing at your place. Don’t suggest that “maybe” you’ll watch a movie this week. Pick an evening and put aside three hours, just as you would for going to the theaters. Buy your favorite snacks, Que up a movie on the big screen, and mix some cocktails. Make a thing out of it.
Dinners with friends
Your rich friends want to try that new Austrian bistro that just opened up. Oh, what’s that? A piece of asparagus drizzled with lemon is $14 there? That’s not happening!
Host. Seriously, you can buy an already made rotisserie chicken for $10 or less, all the baked potatoes you want for a few dollars, and salad ingredients for a couple more dollars. You and your man can host dinner for yourself and two other couples for under $30. You look generous, and you all get to spend time together without the rush of a restaurant.
Traveling is pretty much out of the question when you are broke. But getting out of your usual surroundings, away from stress and obligations, is essential to bonding in a relationship.
Ask for favors. Don’t be shy to ask your friends who live in cities you can drive to, if you can stay with them, or even house-sit for them next time they’re away. And take the train: it’s almost always cheaper than the gas you’d need to drive, and it’s romantic.
Your parents don’t cost money, but they can cost you peace of mind. They want to know how you and your partner are doing financially. If they sense you’re struggling, they’ll start to question whether or not your partner is right for you. They’re not superficial—they just want the best for you. But you don’t need the stress of your parents judging your relationship, on top of the stress of being broke.
Put on a happy face. I’m serious: unless you plan on asking your parents for money, there is no need to let them know you two can’t afford to go to the movies. So long as you are happy, they won’t question your finances or your relationship. So resist the urge to vent to your mom about wanting new leather boots.
Drinking is so expensive. When your friends invite you and your partner out to a bar, you hear the wind blowing through your bank account.
Once again, invite people over to drink. You can get two bottles of decent wine for under $20. And guess what? Your friends will each bring you alcohol as a hosting gift. You’ll end the night with more drinks than you started.
Drinking: part II
Oh come on: you know drinking is costly in a lot of ways. Another way drinking drains your wallet is taxis. Transportation can cost you as much as the cocktails.
If you absolutely must go to bars and drink, try this: one of you drives your car there and parks it overnight, you both take a Lyft Line (that’s the cheap version where you share with other riders) home, and the other person takes the first one back to their car in the morning.
Being broke is obviously stressful. It is on your mind all of the time. Your partner is the person you open up to about everything, so you open up to him about how broke you are. Before you know it, you spend your evening together commiserating about the price of gluten free pasta.
You have to have a rule that you don’t talk about money for more than a few minutes at the end of the day, or maybe not at all (unless it’s critical). Talking about how broke you are won’t put money in your bank account: it just steals moments from you. You won’t know what else is happening in your partner’s life, and you’ll be stressed out.
The most important fix
Be in the right relationship. If you’re truly with the person you’re meant to spend your life with, being broke won’t be so bad. You’ll have fun drinking PBR’s on the floor. If you’re with the wrong person, being broke is the worst: you can’t afford to distract yourself with expensive outings.