You can cut your spending and save money. But if you’re in a relationship and only one of you is frugal, you have a new set of challenges to face. Often, one partner is resistant because he or she doesn’t want to feel restricted, deprived or treated like a child.
In order to live more harmoniously, you can substitute low-cost luxuries that can fill in the gaps. But you have to have productive talks, too. Here are a few examples.
FOOD: Try a varied menu if you’re eating at home more often. If you eat the same meals every week, you start to crave something different. Then you’re more likely to eat out. You can keep your home-cooked meals within your budget by being semifrugal.
For example, if you’re making soup from leftovers, pair it with a special side such as homemade cornbread or end it on a sweet note with a home-baked dessert. The idea is to have one item everyone will look forward to and jazz up an ordinary dish. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as making homemade salad dressing, trying a new marinade or simply lighting candles.
“We are huge coffee drinkers, and my husband and I both used to have a horrible Starbucks habit,” says Sarah, a reader from Illinois. “Now, I keep travel mugs handy and splurge a bit on better coffee. I use two scoops of the cheap stuff, and I mix it with two scoops of the good stuff, and I’m able to make a really good coffee blend at home!” You can splurge on flavored syrups or creamers, too.
LOVE COUPONS: Make some love coupons for your partner to redeem. Ideas include doing a chore for them that they normally do, a movie of their choice, a massage or breakfast in bed. Or do acts of kindness without being prompted by a coupon. It can be small gestures such as bringing her tea in bed or giving him quiet time to read.
SHOW APPRECIATION: No one likes to feel like their efforts go unnoticed. A simple acknowledgement, thank you or compliment can go far in boosting your partner’s day. It’s hard to feel deprived when you feel good.
COMMUNICATE: Talking is free. Rewards, treats and pampering are important, but both of you should work on your budget together. Take time to discuss your goals. Tell your partner what you want. You can share resources such as Web sites, books, television or radio shows and software. But sometimes nothing works better than seeing the actual numbers.
“My husband used to be horrible about buying junk from the gas station,” says a reader from Iowa. “At the end of the month, I totaled up what he spent on all that junk — it came to $500! I didn’t get mad, stomp my feet, cuss or scream. I waited until he came home that night and asked him what he would do with $500 if he could spend it on whatever he wanted. Then I explained what he really did with $500. He has gotten way better.”
Write to Sara c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., fourth floor, New York , NY 10016, or e-mail email@example.com.