If you didn’t see my post about budgeting, I talked about my new use of an App, called Mint. Mint has helped me get my money spending in check and has helped me save money for things that I really care about- like doing and seeing new and fun things with Russ!Once I started using Mint, I immediately called Russ and exclaimed that this app is soooo cool and how I am going to budget all parts of my life- including our dates! He was thrilled. Hehe.
We determined an amount of money that we thought best fit our budget. This amount was the amount we were allotting for any and all activities that we do together- from going out to eat, to paying covers at bars, to buying train tickets or subway tokens. The amount we (I) determined was $80.00 for the two of us. We determined that if there was any money left at the end of each month, that money would be added to the next month in case bigger and more expensive things came up. At first, I thought $80 would be plenty and we would have a lot left over, because I really didn’t [and still do not] believe that we go OUT all that often. We spend a lot of time together, but we spend it doing free or low cost things, like watching movies, making food together, or going out to bars with no or a low cover.
Again, much to my surprise. when I began tracking our spending, I was shocked at how much little expenses add up. I can’t quite say how much we were spending before we began tracking it, but I can say that we would maybe go out to eat 2x/ month, purchase a few drinks at the bar over the month, or stop for special treats (fro-yo, pizza, etc.) occasionally.
February was the first month that we began using our budget, and on the last day of February, we had spent $79.00. $1.00 saved! The money was spent:
- Sharing a fro-yo with lots of toppings ($4.50)
- Going to Cafe Lift for brunch with Ancy and Chris ($40 ish)
- Bar cover ($3.00)
- Apps & drinks in Manayunk ($22.00)
- Ingredients for pasta alfredo + brownies w/ ice cream on Valentine’s day ($10.00)
In March, we spent $103 (oops) on:
- Dinner at the JNA- tip and Septa tokens ($21.00) (+ the Groupon that was previously purchased)
- Cover at Kildare’s bar ($3.00)
- Veggie pizza and a house salad for a night in ($11.00- thanks to Groupon!)
- Two tickets + drinks at Helium Comedy Club ($68.00)
Okay, so obviously we went over our budget in March, but we did something that we have never done (Comedy club) and we had an absolute blast with Ancy and Chris. In April, we tried to spend a little less and save a little more (and succeeded!) It’s all about balance!
It looks like the trend is small dates and then one more expensive date during the month. Do I think we could spend less? Absolutely. But this number works for us and gives us a lot of flexibility in having fun. I can confidently say that we are spending less than we have in past months, where going out to eat a couple times or dropping $20 on something fun every weekend didn’t feel like a big deal (since we only see each other on weekends).
Now, with a budget, we don’t have less fun than we had before, we are just more mindful. Personally, I don’t feel deprived or restricted in any way from our budget, and actually feel like we have more freedom because I know that the purchases we do make are planned for. Also, if something comes up that we really want to do and brings our total to more than $80.00 (like going to a comedy club), I’m certain we would do it anyway because we like to have fun and don’t want to deprive ourselves of things that we REALLY want to do.
Some tips for easy price cuts:
- purchase a case of beer or your favorite liquor at a distributor and drink before you go to the bar. The bottle/ case should last several weeks, depending on how much you drink. Even $2 or $3.00 drinks add up. Drink water at the bar, or if you must, buy one drink and share it.
- Speaking of bars, go to bars that have no cover or very low cover fees. $10 per person to enter? No way. $3.00 per person or less is ideal.
- look for Groupon or Living Social deals and take advantage of them, but make sure you are actually getting a deal. $15.00 for $30.00 worth of food is not a deal if each plate is $18.00 and you wouldn’t have gone there anyway. We have been there, and done that.
- Take advantage of free or low-cost date options, like going for hikes, biking, going to the park, playing pool at a local bar, or playing board games. Call us cheesy, but Russ and I love playing board games!
- Make food at home instead of ordering out. This is a big one! It’s fun to stay in and watch movies and order a pizza, but that pizza can cost $20.00 or more after delivery. Go buy the ingredients ($.99 cents for dough, $2.00 for sauce, $3.00 for cheese, $5.00 for any toppings you want) and make it at home. It’s fun and cost effective!
There are a lot of other ways to save a bit of money, but I think these are our biggest ones. We like to have fun, but I like to be mindful of it!