I recently got off the phone with a young couple as they were creating their first zero-based budget. ::enthusiastic applause:: They’re both attending Financial Peace University, just like my husband and I did five years ago, and had a question about their homework assignment. It pertains to anyone celebrating Valentine’s Day, or going on dates in general, so I’d like to share it with you.
Laura, we just filled out our budget and we don’t have enough to cover the bills and spending money and date nights. We can’t just stop paying our bills. Should we just stop budgeting for dates?
My Answer: Please don’t stop going on dates! There are a thousand things that can distract married couples from taking the time to date one another (compound that number by a million once kids come on the scene). Just like love is a choice, not just a feeling, so it is with dating your spouse.
(Anyone want to watch our kids? Hubby and I are due for our next date night.)
Now, this couple didn’t need a lecture about the future of their love life; they just wanted a clear solution to their financial dilemma. I offered them a few suggestions and added a few more here that might fit in your situation:
- Keep budgeting for at least a little spending money (or “fun” money), even if you have to take that money from somewhere else in the budget. If you’re like me, you’ll spend money on impulse purchases eventually anyway, and bust your budget in the process, so give yourself permission to spend by planning ahead.
- Keep budgeting for date nights. Marriage is hard work. Parenting is even harder. Keep your date nights sacred. It’s worth the financial investment.
- Chop your date night budget in half and get creative. Here are 55 awesome money-saving date ideas from my blogging friend, Monica, at Our Debt Free Family.
- Comb through your budget again and see if there are minor adjustments that could be made elsewhere.
- Make this decision together. If your decision is to stop going out for date nights while you pay off this debt, then make sure you’re both unified in that choice.
- Remember that this is temporary. Discipline becomes easier when you know there’s a finish line. If you need to zilch your cable for a season of time while you recalibrate the direction of your finances (now that the Super Bowl is over ::wink::), then do it. If you need to slash your restaurant budget in half or consolidate trips to save on gas, then do it.
- Don’t skip Valentine’s Day. 🙂
Even if you don’t spend a dime on your next date night, invest quality time with your spouse. Celebrate your spouse. Money is simply one tool you may use to achieve that. I personally believe that’s what Valentine’s Day is all about.
What has been your most memorable date night or Valentine’s Day? Was there much money involved? Share in the comments below.