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How to Save Money in Relationships

As collegiettes, most of us do not have a limitless expendable income. Plus, if we did, it would go to food, drinks, nights out, new clothes, new shoes, new makeup… you catch my drift. Despite our minimal access to money, we tend to go over-the-top when it comes to relationship spending. From special “date nights” to constant upkeep to gift-giving to traveling, it can be tough to save when you have a boyfriend. Psh, and they call US high-maintenance.

But, here at Her Campus, we care about your bank account. That’s why we’re ranked the top three relationship monetary drains and how you can manage them… and no, the answer is not to dump your boyfriend… OR make him pay for everything!    

To put things into perspective, I tallied my most recent gift purchases for my current boyfriend. The results, I have to say, were not pretty given that I do not have a job or to be honest, a lot of savings.   Christmas: Personalized Scrapbook ($50); Lacoste Pullover ($70) Birthday:  Gift Card ($40); Framed Pictures ($20) Anniversary: Game ($30); Sweatshirt ($40) Valentine’s Day: Sweatshirt ($50)   So, in total, in the past TWO months, which I will admit may not be typical since his birthday and our anniversary are just bad timing for my bank account, I have spent $300 on presents alone.

My birthday also happens to fall during this timeframe, but somehow my boyfriend has been able to spend about half of what I did, which shows that in some relationships girls bear the brunt of expenses. So, how do we save?     Although we have a tendency to think that guys aren’t interested in sentimental value, the majority of them are!

“My girlfriend always gives me homemade presents,” says Matt, a student the University of Illinois. “Sometimes they are really cheesy, but they usually mean the most to me.”

You sacrifice time for money in making homemade presents, but it just shows how dedicated you are to the relationship, my dears! However, I will say that minimal spending is involved for materials, but the cost is small! Here are some ideas that we came up with: Since gift giving has a tendency to spiral out of control, some couples choose to put limits on their spending so they can manage the occasions.

“My boyfriend and I usually put a maximum amount on how much we can spend on gifts,” says Melissa, a student at Indiana University. “The only time we didn’t do this was for our one-year anniversary because it was really special, and we wanted to buy each other lasting presents. We bought each other expensive jewelry that we engraved with a personal message.”

Make sure you are on the same page with your boyfriend by explaining how much you can realistically spend. If you agree to a number that’s too high for your budget, you will only end up resenting your boyfriend… but that goes both ways, girls! Don’t be offended if your boyfriend suggests a low price cap – he may not have the money to spend either!

“I suggested to my girlfriend that we put a $10 limit on gift giving at Christmas this year,” says John, a student at the University of Missouri. “At first she was upset, but then she realized that it probably made sense for her financially, too.”

And finally, make sure you both are ready to stick to the agreement. Your gift exchange will be embarrassingly uncomfortable if he gets a new iPod from you, and you get a teddy bear. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! To give you an idea, we have a list of cute gift ideas for under $10:   [pagebreak]  

There is nothing better in the world than the gift of time. Instead of buying gifts for special occasions, why not a plan a romantic night out or a fun date?

“When it comes to special occasions, my boyfriend and I don’t exchange gifts,” says Katrina, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “Instead, we just plan a fun day or night, and we agree to split the cost.” In addition to gift giving, many couples also feel the need to plan a date for holidays, anniversaries and birthdays, which only adds to the overall cost. Instead, head out to a dinner for two with an activity afterwards (movie, ice skating, mini golf, concert, etc.) and split the cost. That way, you each spend a similar amount, and you are able to spend time together, which is money well spent! Here are some potential ideas for day dates:  

We all love to look good for our guy and of course, for ourselves, too! However, the cost of constant upkeep is high and seemingly endless. From waxing to haircuts to makeup to clothes, there are tons of different ways we spend money on looking good. “I spend so much money on trying to maintain my appearance that there isn’t much left for anything else,” says Alyssa, a student at the University of Missouri. “And sometimes, I don’t think my boyfriend can even tell the difference.” Well, ladies, even if your boyfriend doesn’t notice, you do! So we have ways to save when it comes to keeping up appearances!    

With endless parties and events, it seems there is always a reason for new clothes. However, that also explains why your bank account is dwindling. But there ways to save! First, head to stores on Thursday when you are most likely to get the weekend sales price while the store is still fully stocked with merchandise. If you wait until the weekend, most of the good stuff will be gone! If you purchase something and it later goes on sale, head back to the store! Usually, the store is more than willing to refund the difference so you can receive the sales price, but remember: you should always ask if your purchases are going to be on sale anytime soon you are buying them. Many times, the clerk will give you the sales price if he/she knows what it will be. Furthermore, take advantage of end-of-the-season sales by buying in advance. It may seem counter-intuitive to buy bikinis in September, but you’ll thank yourself later! And finally, if you’re like me and have unused gift cards sitting in your wallet to stores you’ll probably never visit, swap them out on websites like ! Then, you can buy something you actually want!    

When it comes to haircuts and waxing, preparation is key. Many salons recommend getting a haircut every two to three months, and depending on where you go, it can be very expensive. “I asked my salon to cut my hair in a style that I could grow into,” says Katrina. “It was minimal maintenance and upkeep, so I didn’t have to return for a new cut as often as usual, and they gave me free trims!” Katrina went on to explain that the cut was slightly more expensive than usual, but it was worth it in the long run. If you tell your stylist that you would like to come in less often, she will be willing to work with you! Never be afraid to convey your needs.  

When it comes to waxing, invest in a good pair of tweezers. On your initial visit, ask your esthetician for a particular shape, and then you can maintain it at home. In addition, you can always buy an at-home waxing kit – check out the Bliss Poetic Waxing Microwaveable Waxing Kit – for all of your needs, whether it be eyebrows, underarms, legs, bikini, etc. You’ll thank yourself later!  

And finally, many beauty schools offer discounted prices on services (like haircuts, waxing, hair color) if you’re willing to let students handle your appearance. They are usually supervised by a professional, and they are much more likely to pay attention to detail since they want a recommendation from you! At , you will find a list of the top Cosmetology schools in the country, so you can contact the one nearest you for an appointment.  

If you’re at all like me, then you love to buy new makeup – there is always something new! This can get expensive though, and there is no reason for it to be. Take advantage of free gifts with purchases if there is a particular cosmetics brand that you like, as you are already spending the money, so why not receive something in return? Befriend a woman at the counter, so she can update you on when they are offering free gifts with purchases! In addition, she can alert you when the new merchandise is coming in. Many companies will sell you the older colors at a discounted price… that is, if you ask! Furthermore, ask for samples! If you spend a lot of time at the counter trying on makeup, but are unsure about buying, ask the clerk if you can take home a few samples to try. Usually, they are more than willing to supply you with the colors, and the samples tend to last for at least a week, or two! “When I go shopping for makeup, I take pictures of my favorite items,” says Mallory, a student at Boston College. “Then, I head to the local drugstore and match the brands, so I get the color I like at the drugstore price!” And finally, sites like offer brands like Urban Decay, Lancôme, and Too Faced at discounted prices. Make sure to shop around for the best deal!   [pagebreak]  

As we all know, dates tend to add up. From dinner to dessert to a movie, the overall cost of a night out forces many couples to stay in. And as my boyfriend likes to say, once you reach the “marriage phase,” it’s unnecessary to go out anyway. Um, right. But there are ways to plan dates that are not only fun, but also inexpensive. If you are a new couple looking for some ideas, or an old couple in the “marriage phase” looking to spice things up, we have of ideas.    
“As the weather gets warmer, my boyfriend and I love to do stuff outside,” says Mallory. “Sometimes even just taking a walk after it rains can be the most romantic date ever.” Here are some other ideas with the approximate cost:    

“My girlfriend and I love to see movies together, but that can get kind of boring,” says Pat, a student at the University of Illinois. “So we like to discover places together, whether it be a new restaurant in town or a performance by a local artist.” Here are some ideas with the approximate cost:  

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT   It may seem ridiculous to start saving money now, but remember that thinking about the future is important! There are many unknowns that come with graduating from college like where you will live, what you will do for a living, etc. so if you have some savings to fall back on, you will feel much more secure. Here are some common things to think about saving for: Ladies, we all know that relationships are expensive, but as you can see there are ways to manage the costs. Saving money now will lead to exciting things later, and you will be glad that you sought out cheap alternatives to gifts, upkeep and dates. As intelligent, independent Her Campus readers, you have all the resources you need to make responsible decisions regarding money. Buy your boyfriend the keychain, and grab yourself a sexy top… we’re sure he won’t be complaining. Good luck, collegiettes!  

College students from across the country

Allie Duncan is a senior, class of 2013, in the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She is specializing in Strategic Communication within the Journalism department, while also pursuing a Textile and Apparel Management minor. In addition to writing for Her Campus, Allie is a member of Kappa Delta sorority - Epsilon Iota chapter, the Publicity Director for Her Campus Mizzou, a Campus Representative/Intern for Akira Chicago, a Contributing Writer for Chicago-Scene magazine and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. She spent the 2012 summer as an intern at Tory Burch, and the 2011 summer as an intern at Vogue magazine. A Chicago native, Allie enjoys shopping, watching reality television, cupcakes, expensive shoes and reading magazines. She hopes to eventually land a job in fashion public relations while living in New York City, Los Angeles, or Chicago.
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