You can’t put a price on love, right? In a sense. But those engaged in a long-distance relationship will tell you that there certainly is a cost.
According to reports from StatisticBrain, 14 million people are in long-distance relationships. The average distance between the couples is 125 miles. Thirty-two percent of college students are involved in long-distance relationship. And even if you are not dating someone from a distance, you are probably open to it.
For those who have been a part of a long-distance relationship, you are familiar with the challenges. Of course, there are relational challenges. But there are also financial challenges. Dinner and a movie is not a cheap event when plane ticket costs are involved. Long-distance relationships can wreak havoc on your finances if you are not careful.
So how can you make your current or future long-distance relationship more cost effective?
Talk about the costs.
Don’t act like finances are a non-issue. Sweeping the financial implications of the relationship under the rug will only leave you broke and bitter. You don’t want to put your girlfriend or boyfriend in a bad financial spot. And, hopefully, they don’t want that for you. You don’t have to do a deep dive into your financial situation, but you need to have the freedom to say, “I can’t afford that.”
Don’t go into debt to date.
Budget dating costs.
A budget is your plan to align your giving, saving and spending with your income. If you are in a long-distance relationship, your budget should look different than someone who is not dating from a distance. The amount you spend on the relationship may require the reduction of other expenditures. You may have to lessen the number of time you eat out with friends to afford the next time you visit your girlfriend or boyfriend. Plan these costs so that they do not create financial turmoil later. Use a budgeting app like brightpeak’s Illuminate to make this step effortless
Base visits on ticket prices.
Reducing the costs of a long-distance relationship requires planning. Spur-of-the-moment trips can cause you to overpay. Watch for deals on flights, one of the biggest costs of a long-distance relationship. When you spot a really good deal, you may have found the dates for your next visit. Consider looking for deals during certain windows of time. If you agree to see each other once per quarter, be flexible as to when the trip takes place within the three-month window. Allow deals to become dates.
Have “Distance Dates.”
One of the relational challenges with long-distance relationships is that you don’t get to connect as often and don’t have the same number of shared experiences that other couples have. To combat this, consider having a “distance date.” Agree to go see the same movie at the same time or some other similar activity. You could take this a step further and go to the same chain restaurant beforehand. When you get back home, have a video chat about it. Share your thoughts about the activity. Get creative and have fun. “Distance dates” can be a cost effective way to connect with your girlfriend or boyfriend.
Talk about the future.
Eventually, a long-distance relationship needs to become just a relationship. If there is no trajectory for this, you may be wasting a lot of time and money. At some point, you will need to talk about what the future looks like. Are you going to move there, or is your significant other going to move here? If neither is considering a move, you may need to question the long-term viability of the relationship. I know, it’s a tough thought. But it is also necessary.
Long-distance relationships are not always easy. They have their own unique relational and financial challenges. Pursue God’s design for both areas of your life. Regarding your money, don’t let your long-distance relationship ruin your finances. Make cost-effective choices. Whether you marry this one or somebody else, your future spouse will be thankful that you didn’t wreck your finances during this time.
Art Rainer is the author of The Marriage Challenge, The Money Challenge and the forthcoming kids series The Secret Slide Money Club. He also hosts a growing podcast called The Money Challenge.