I once heard someone say they have champagne taste on a beer budget and I have to say- that is me through and through. Except that even my beer budget is pretty shoddy.
Basically where I’m at is that I suck at budgeting, and I can justify basically anything. Um hello, we JUST moved into a new house and I refrained with the fortitude of a saint from purchasing a mid century modern hella cute couch from Restoration Hardware that was $3500, so really, I DESERVE this completely unnecessary vase.
Since I love greenery in the house, potted plants always seem like a good investment. The problem is that I have a child and a husband who need more immediate sustenance, so I inevitably forget to water my vegetation. Then I think that I should overcompensate for my lack of attentiveness by making the plant dish a swamp and, to my dismay, the plant never falls for it.
A dry, dead plant in a pool of water is just about as depressing as it gets, and probably a metaphor for something. Another $15 dollars that I basically could have just thrown down the garbage disposal like my succulent carcass.
An area where I also really struggle is in loving my husband low budget-ly.
With a baby and a house and a budget things have needed to be monitored a little more closely, and you know what? It’s been kind of fun to be creative. Here are some ways we have learned to love each other without all those dolla dolla bills.
The Knife Block
A friend of mine once explained that to run a long way, you have to just tell yourself you’re not going to stop. It’s all in your head.
I have found that to be true with possessions. It started with Eric telling me how happy he gets and that “it just feels like all is right with the world when the knife block is full”.
Now I look at the kitchen and instead of seeing an exhausting mess of dishes, or an unfinished design that has me longing for the perfection of HGTV, I see an opportunity to love my husband by the simple act of cleaning up and filling the knife block.
Love notes are where it’s at. Words don’t cost money, but they certainly are not free. It costs me to put aside all of my complaints and all of my conditions, and love my husband with words.
I think when you live with someone, it’s extremely difficult to just love them, no strings attached. I like to attach lots of strings. I love you when you don’t talk about things I find boring. I love you when you clean the floors the right way. I want to change Eric and shape him into a person who is easy and convenient to love.
I have found that when Eric and I write notes to each other, it takes us out of our critical mindset, and reminds us of the innate good of the other. Usually when I begin a love note to my husband, it starts as almost a chore, or a sacrifice for him.
It ends with me crying and thanking God, because in writing the note I have reminded myself of how incredible he is and how humbled I am to have him as a spouse.
Our budget for dates for the month isn’t very big. We used go on bunch of dates with our date money, and then realized that it wasn’t fun to give ourselves a lecture in the car. No apps, one drink each, don’t even think about a molten lava cake. So we decided that we much prefer to do mini dates during the month, and then one all out date.
We each have “allowance money” to spend every month, which makes me unbelievably excited. I never had an allowance growing up, so finally getting one at the age of 26 basically fills (almost) all of my childhood dreams. I still have not been to Hollywood to be discovered as the next Disney Channel star and I don’t own a trampoline, but I can in fact buy all of the Lifesaver gummies at the grocery store check out line.
What we usually end up doing with some of our allowance money is buying the other coffee on the way home from mass, stopping at the store to buy flowers, or beer for the other, or just treating each other in small but hugely meaningful ways.
The All Out Date
The all out date is a huge deal.
We plan for weeks, get a babysitter to watch Seb, dress up, and go to town. Being a control freak, I can relax and be a fun date when I know what we have to spend and that this is the time we have set aside to spend it. No one likes a date who is secretly keeping track of how much each of your beers cost.
In my mind I am constantly planning. Planning our meals, Seb’s naps, our budget, calculating how much time I have left in the day to do this or that.
It requires an enormous effort to listen to Eric speculate about why in the Old Testament this non-Jewish guy got to be a prophet and strike down people (real conversation). Most nights we park it in front of the TV and eat our dinners while watching the Office, but a few times a week we sit at the kitchen table, and have real conversation about things that don’t involve bills and schedules.
Battleship and Cuddling
I often think back to when we were dating and time spent together was a special, intentional, and creative. It was a time that we were there to get to know each other, and so we did activities.
We played cards and cuddled and flirted, and you know what? It’s just as important when you’re married. Those times when we pull out a board game, or play cards and listen to music bring out our goofy dating side, and I swear we fall a little bit more in love.
I always think I deserve diamonds and a vacation, and after 7 months of raising this crazy little boy, I probably do.
I basically invented “treat yoself”, Tom Haverford, trust me, I know how to splurge.
What Eric and I have learned to do is to buy small things for each other that pack a lot of love. I love silly little splurges, and so Eric will get me earrings from Target, or a mug I definitely don’t need. I’ll get him shooting gear, or money to do something I know he’d love. It’s less about the magnitude of the gift, and more about buying each other things that will make the other’s day.
A Little Paint
Eric knows I would love to go to town at Crate and Barrel, but since we are not at that point right now, he’s amazing at helping me and encouraging me spruce things up the DIY way.
Don’t have the money or time to give your house a new paint job? Just paint one statement wall. Instead of buying a new dresser, buy cheap new drawer knobs. Ugly frame? Gold spray paint. Ugly anything? Gold spray paint. Works every time.