Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How do you budget for a long distance relationship?

Truth: You can't have a great relationship until you can communicate and agree about money.
I'm not in any way a college student. I have a full time job and because of that I budget, plan, work towards financial goals. But lately, ironically, all I want to do is spend money on travel. I got in some conversations months ago with a friend about her traveling all the time to see her girlfriend. Sadly I accidentally implied that she was unwise to travel all the time and be in a long distance relationship. Now the "she" is me and I get it. Travel is fun and I want to spend as much time as possible with Lo.

As with all things budgeting is a continuum. I just went looking for a story I heard on NPR about a guy who grew up poor and then realized his parents had been extremely wealthy his whole life. His parents were just hyper-frugal. When his dad died he found he was a millionaire. His mom didn't know any other way to live so even though she had all that money she lived exactly the same way, like someone who was poor. What really is the point of having money if it isn't for living?

Somewhere in this continuum is being intentional about finances, saving and giving money. Not using money all for oneself, using it wisely is something I strive for. But when it gets down to practicalities how does one budget?

I particularly wonder how to budget in the case of money for travel. Flight and gas prices are going up. I'm most grateful that Lo doesn't live further away. At least it's doable to meet in the middle. Hmm. I think we just decided on a meet in the middle trip for May and a flight for June. Still, seriously, how does one budget for a long distance relationship?


Anonymous said...

"You can't have a great relationship until you can communicate and agree about money." I agree on the communicate part, but not entirely on the agree part. I wish my partner and I agreed, but we don't. We are continuously trying to reach compromises in which we can still respect the other. It's hard, but at least we have the communication part down.

Anonymous said...

My relationship isn't long distance per se. But between work and seeing my gf there is a lot of travel (30 miles one way). It adds up!! I'm sure I'd have about 5K more in savings were it not for what's been spent going out over the last two years. I'm also the one working, she is in college, and our relationship is kept secret. That make things more costly.

How to budget for this? After seeing the amount of money spent, I wasn't sure what to think. Then my priorities became more clear. What are the most important things in my life? I realized that the one thing in my life that I looked forward to everyday was/is seeing her. If she wasn't in my life, it would be tedious and mundane. I could certainly continue living, but there would be no reward or incentive to do better for myself or anyone else.

Really, what is life without love? What is life without having someone to care about or share things with? It would be pretty empty. So I think that love is the most important thing. And because of that, spending time with my girlfriend is a priority ahead of all others. Work is nothing more than a means to an end. And money... well, those little green bills really aren't worth the paper they are written on, are they? Our government could collapse tomorrow and I can't take any of that money with me when I die. May as well use it to live and love to the fullest.

Now don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying that I spend frivalously. I also budget and save with the hopes of building a better life for my girlfriend and I someday (if we are blessed enough to have our relationship continue for many years to come). Some may say that my priorities are little messed-up, but I've simple recognized the most important moments of my day and structured life around them. It seems to work.


titration said...

anonymous #1 - I actually found that quote elsewhere online...'s perhaps impossible to always agree about money but that is good to keep communicating and compromising...too true!

ms26 - true that. Love always trumps money. :) When I get confused is when being frugal in the short term would help make way for long term togetherness. hmmm. O such stuff to ponder. :)

Thanks for sharing both of you'all.

Cheryl said...

I was in a long distance relationship for 2.5 years. Fortunately, gas didn't cost then what it does now, so it wasn't such a concern. However, it was wear and tear on the car. We swapped seeing each other every weekend (a 200-mile round trip), and we only missed two weekends that entire time.

I'm sure money was probably considerend, but like your previous poster, some things (like love) just take priority. So how do you budget for it? You just do. :)

Anonymous said...

I fell in love with a British boy, and for the 18 months we long-distanced before he moved to the US, I ate a lot of beans and Ramen, and shopped thrift stores. Now that he's here, we eat better, but I still shop thrift. ;)

In all seriousness, sometimes, you can't afford not to spend the money, you know?