Daydreaming while looking out the bus window with my headphones in has been a part of my morning routine since I was thirteen. What can I say? I have the brain of a hopeless romantic and I love conjuring up the things I’d do if I was a knight in shining armor stealing the heart of a beautiful girl in the kingdom.
In reality, I am a writer and student from Toronto. And my budget can’t fund my candle-lit-castle dreams. But I won’t stop trying to make my own fairy tales happen!
My girlfriend and I have been dating for almost seven months and despite the frequency at which we budget together, we like to have fun and go on dates. Ever since we started dating, we knew we wanted to make sure we always had something to do aside from our go-to activities. Meagan and I spent a lot of our first dates grabbing drinks, visiting the aquarium, and even getting tattoos together (don’t worry, they don’t match)!
But once we realized our relationship was going to be long term, we wanted to reign in our spending. Both of us wanted to ensure we were meeting our own financial goals while developing some together. But of course, I’m a hopeless romantic, and I can’t help but long to buy her a million bouquets of flowers.
Make a Cheap Date List
Meagan and I have been working through a list of cheap date ideas since we started dating. Every time we think of something cute we want to do together, we write it down! It gives us some options when we’re bored of our usual routine. Here’s an example of some of the things on our list:
- Second-hand bookstore crawl (Hello Virginia Woolf!)
- Cooking dinner together
- Visit free art galleries
- Try a new coffee shop and exchange writing
- Go to the park and have a picnic
Do some research. Your city might even offer some discounts for great date spots!
Switch Up Your Usual Routine!
It’s a common trope that couples will go on plenty of dates in a relationship’s early stages before retiring to the couch. When your partner is also your friend it can be easy to let the romance disappear. Just because I love watching TV with Meagan, doesn’t mean it’s all we should do!
Make errands into a date
Surprisingly, doing groceries together was one of our very first dates! We wandered the store and had a chance to pick up on each other’s favourite foods and grab a snack to accompany our impending Netflix binge. And as always, Meagan took me to the video game aisle and talked my ear off about things I pretended to understand.
Consider taking a trip to the laundromat or doing some broom-handle karaoke when you’re cleaning! And if you’re students like us, you can even make studying into a date. We like to quiz each other before exams and reward ourselves with a break to watch Bob’s Burgers every few hours.
To put it simply, making errands into a date makes them more bearable. Why not add a little romance to your to-do list?
I think Meagan can attest that silliness is my specialty. I try my best to keep our non-work and school time together as fun as possible. Just last weekend we went old school and made a cootie catcher to help us choose what horror movies to watch.
Along with horror movies, Meagan has piqued my interest in other things. I can now spend hours researching astrology and its all thanks to her. I’m a sucker for any personality test like the Enneagram and Myers-Briggs. Make things feel like high school again by taking some quizzes and seeing if you and your significant other are truly compatible.
Surprise Each Other
To me, the best part of being in a relationship is the little moments you get to share together! Doing small acts of kindness and looking out for your partner is one of the best things a hopeless romantic can do.
I’m a sucker for surprises. Something like a sweet letter or their favourite snack will easily make your partner smile! You can even keep a couple of your cheap date ideas off the list and take your partner to a surprise location.
Remember: romantic relationships are NOT about money
Of course, depending on the stage of your life, finances might impact your relationship differently. But it’s important to remember that money is not the most important thing between you and your partner! Though, you shouldn’t hesitate to talk about it. Open communication about money is seemingly taboo when it comes to relationships. Save yourself the trouble of keeping secrets and talk to your partner openly about money.
Saving Up For Something Together Can Be Romantic
You’re bound to hit a rut of financial depression or plain boredom but try to remember you can always work towards something big to do with your partner! My girlfriend and I are constantly listing off things we want but can’t afford. We tend to forget that the truth is that we can’t afford them yet.
Consider a joint savings account
If you share dreams, why not share the account that funds them?
Seriously! Before you make any decision that involves managing money, consider if it is what’s right for you. Bridget has a great post on How To Share Finances With Your Partner. But for now, I’m focusing on a shared plan to save money for something for both of you.
Meagan and I just moved into a new apartment. We’re excitedly getting settled and anxiously awaiting the moment we’re ready to begin our cat fund! We plan to save enough for adoption fees, initial vet visits, essential supplies, and backup for any medical emergencies before we actually go to a shelter and find the cat that’s right for us. It’s important, especially with something like this, to have a well-oiled plan and a clear goal for saving.
A great option for saving with someone else is a KOHO Joint Account. These accounts are built to make saving easier to navigate. You can even witness real-time updates of account activity!
Brainstorm short and long-term savings goals!
A shorter-term goal that Meagan and I have been saving up for is a weekend getaway! Having a comfy bed and jacuzzi tub to look forward to is definitely worth the wait. Here are some other fun ideas for you and your partner to save for:
- Concert tickets
- Dinner at a fancy restaurant (and maybe a bottle of wine!)
- Spa day
- Something special for your home
- Electronics (Despite my lack of video game knowledge, Meagan has me wanting a Nintendo Switch)
Try something like Practicing Sobriety For A Month and see how much money it saves you! Doing a savings challenge with your partner might motivate you to develop some long-term goals together.
Romance Shouldn’t Be Hopeless
And if you take anything from this article, I hope it’s this. Despite the times I get disheartened, remembering my girlfriend and I are a team in all that we do always gives me hope. No matter how dismal your bank account might look, it can and will get better. As long as you put the work in!
Whether it be a night at a five-star hotel or dusting our kitchen counters, I know we’ll be having a fairy-tale-worthy time.