When we first embarked on our financial freedom journey, one of the things I wondered about was how it would affect our relationship. This is because, almost everything we did together as a date involved spending money. Whether it be going out for a nice dinner, buying freshly cut flowers, or other presents; treating each other involved spending a whole lot of money.
Spending money on nice things or experiences is an ingrained concept within our society. Marketing and advertising often tells us that our partner’s need red roses, diamond jewellery or an expensive holiday to feel loved.
However, this simply isn’t true. Stuff doesn’t make a relationship successful… Quality time, thoughtfulness and selflessness does.
Here’s 7 ways you can treat your partner, and boost your relationship, in ways that cost little or no money.
Cooking nights with your partner are a great way to spend time together and have fun. Now cooking night doesn’t mean one of you cooks and one of you cleans. The idea of a cooking night is to get inventive and try to make a new cuisine, together.
For your evening, pick a cuisine and go shopping for any extra ingredients you need. Then it’s time to kick off your night… Open a bottle of wine or a beer, pop some music on and start preparing your ingredients. Cook as necessary and sit down at the dinner table and eat together. It’s fun to discuss your creations and rate them together.
You never know… You may end up adding a new staple to your regular menu!
Volunteering is a great way to spend time with your partner, whilst doing something great for others too.
There are plenty of great charities out there to volunteer for as a couple. Late last year, I did a shift at Brisbane’s Fare Share headquarters; cooking meals for the needy from food saved from going to the tip.
The style of this program was perfect for a couples date and I highly recommend checking them out.
Growing flowers at home
There’s nothing quite like the colours and smells of freshly cut flowers to make a house a home. The only problem with flowers though, is that they can be very expensive!
Growing your own flowers can be a cheap and fairly easy alternative to buying flowers for your other half. In order to keep things fresh and fun, try arranging the flowers differently each time by including different fillers each time you cut and arrange a bunch. This will help ensure that you and your partner don’t get sick of having the same flowers around all the time.
Of course, it’s fine to buy a nice bunch of flowers occasionally, but home grown are a great regular option.
Run a bath
One of the best things you can do for your partner (especially if they are a busy stay-at-home parent) is to run them a bath and give them 30 minutes or so to themselves to just relax with some music, a glass of wine/beer, or a great book.
The relaxation your partner gets from having some peaceful time to themselves will no doubt make the heart grow fonder. The mere recognition that your partner works hard and deserves some “me” time can work wonders in a relationship.
Taking them for a cheap day out
Most cities and towns have a number of free activities or sites on offer. In Australia, most city museums and art galleries have free entry to most sections, with just a particular exhibition or two requiring an entry fee.
In Brisbane, for example, the Cultural Centre in South Brisbane contains the theatre, State library, museum and art galleries all in one. Both art galleries and the museum have free entry, with feature shows requiring payment only. This allows for a great day out for free.
Additionally, if you live in a city, keep your eye out for free music and comedy shows. In Brisbane, the Cultural Centre offers free music most Friday afternoons. Additionally, the Powerhouse has free comedy shows on Friday night’s.
If the arts aren’t your thing, or you live in a regional area, the outdoors are a great place for a day out. There are heaps of national parks and Council parks around that are great for a hike, a homemade picnic and some fresh air.
Getting out and about gives you the opportunity to engage with your partner away from any attention consuming mod-cons such as mobile phones and TV. As an added bonus, the fresh air and exercise is great for your physical and mental health as well!
Hire them some nice books from the library
If your partner is an avid reader and has a list of books they want to read that is as huge as Donald Trump’s ego, then hitting up your local library might be a great option.
If your partner is interested in particular topics, or a fan of certain authors, go pick up a few books on your way home from work and leave them on your dining table or somewhere else conspicuous.
Just letting your partner know that you pay attention to them and have been thoughtful goes a long way.
Be truly present in your interactions
As Grant Sabatier pointed out in his book Financial Freedom, “money is limitless, time is not”. Consequently, treating your partner through spending quality time with them is critical.
So many of us these days are so caught up in technology and social media that even when we are present with our partners, we’re not really present. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing with your partner, if your looking at your phone, you’re not wholeheartedly present.
If this is you, it’s time to switch off from the tech and switch on to your partner. When you’re at the dinner table, put your phone away and talk to your partner about their day instead.
If you eat dinner in front of the TV every night… Just stop. Nothing on TV is anywhere near as important as what’s right in front of you.
I’m sure that no one on their deathbed has ever said “I wish I used my phone more” or “I wish I watched more TV”… But, there has no doubt been many people who have wished they spent more time with their family, showed more love towards their children, or let their partner know more often just how much they loved and appreciated them.
Being frugal does not inhibit your ability to make your partner feel special.
As outlined above, there are many ways you can treat your partner without spending much money at all. All you need is a little time, creativity and thoughtfulness… And you’re good to go!