Photo: Don Hankins via flickr
What began with the sweetest kiss has sent my budget flying out of the window. I fell in love walking around Manhattan, one street fading into another until my boyfriend and I stopped in a deli to order a warm bowl of matzo ball soup and rest our feet.
On the surface, it seemed very innocent: We were getting to know each other, and what better way to do that than over a nice meal? In reality, I was nearing a precipice, where over the edge lurked all the spending habits I’d worked so hard to break free from.
After getting out of credit card debt nearly two years ago, I’d turned into a budget-minded robot, tracking every last cent, money in, money out. I religiously saved receipts, checked nightly to see if they cleared, and packed my lunches for the workweek every Sunday. Perhaps this is something that single girls do, but it felt like the safety net that was holding my money in place.
Yet budgeting was futile in the face of romance—and a sexy guy who was willing to go halvsies on a bottle of Pinot Grigio. Who was I to let a few dollars get in the way?
Eventually, it took its toll.
“I’ve spent about $100 on meals out,” he said grimly one day. We were withdrawing money again because our Italian haunt didn’t take credit.
My eyes darted to my ATM receipt. Then I cued the spending reel: $21 on a cab to Park Slope, $15 for pre-packaged dinner, a $60 ATM withdrawal, $7 at Starbucks, $35 for Seamless, a $10 lunch at Cosi. Now I knew why BusinessWeek reported serious couples spend nearly $3,200 on dinners each year.
We tried to cook after that episode, but the restaurants always won out. Or more to the point, we made excuses for why they won out. We’re too tired, it’s just as expensive, let’s go out. realising how much we could save if we only got out act together, we finally concluded that we were just lazy. And we were right.
Like anything else in life, controlling your spending takes effort. And whether it’s love, work, no time or too much of it, I’ve found there’s always an excuse there when you need one.
While I’m thrilled to be in love, changing my spending won’t happen overnight. I’ll just have to make it a priority—and learn to say no to temptation.
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