Matters of the heart is already complex enough, but adding money into the equation changes everything. In this new weekly column “Love and Money”, we answer the ever burning question: Is love really all you need?
Let's Talk About: Long Distance Relationships
Whether it’s a 20 minute drive or a 20 hour flight, being apart from a partner is never easy – especially now with the Covid19 pandemic setting new travel restrictions.
Particularly for long distance relationships (LDRs), time together is especially cherished. However because of the distance, costs can rack up to absurd numbers due to the meticulous planning. Depending on how far away a partner is, transportation alone can cost thousands of dollars for a single trip. While many people in LDRs believe that these investments are worth it in the long-term, there are actions you can take to save a few dollars and still maintain a strong relationship.
Communicate & Plan Together
The best thing you can when it comes to budgeting in any relationship is to talk to your partner about money. One of the biggest problems that relationships face is how one partner feels like they are spending too much and that the other partner is not meeting them halfway in terms of effort.
First, determine how often you would like to see each other. For example, if you and your partner want to see each other twice monthly, you then need to talk about who is going to come to who and align with your schedules. Maybe your partner has to work more inflexible hours, making it more logical for you to visit them more often.
However, because you would be committing to travelling more frequently, splitting transportation costs or even creating a joint “relationship fund” could be beneficial. Being honest about your schedule and how much you are able to spend lets you and your partner know upfront what you are realistically able to do and not do.
Creating the Budget
Once the scheduling talks are done, create a budget for both your and your partner’s finances. Helpful to plan out your visits and daily lives, having a financial security blanket can be important.
Try out the 50/30/20 Budget Rule where 50% of expenses go towards non-discretion necessities, like bills, transportation, and food, 30% towards non-essential spending like shopping and nights out with friends, and 20% dedicated to an emergency fund.
Since the 50% is for things that you need separate from your LDR, and the 20% emergency fund should not be spent unless needed, you can plan on making the LDR budget within that 30% of non-discretionary spending.
Here, you can consider what you would be willing to sacrifice for that long weekend with your partner. Maybe that means attending less happy hours with your friends, or opting to not shop.
Over time, you and your partner can work together to find things to give you more wiggle room in the budget. If you have to fly to see your partner, finding the most affordable days to fly and even opening an airline-affiliated credit card (those bonus miles can work wonders for your spending on flights!) can save you some money and allow you to find more of a balance in having some spending for fun when you’re at home.
It can take a little to find the right method that leaves both you and your partner happy and financially balanced, but as long as you communicate with them about what’s going on in your life (both socially and financially), you can take the burden of spending on a relationship off of your shoulders.