I’m a recent college graduate, and I’m determined to follow your plan and get out of debt. My biggest problem is when it comes to dating. Things aren’t cheap today, so aside from not dating, how do you handle this area of your life when you’re trying to get your finances in order?
First of all, you definitely need to date people. I couldn’t have gone without dating, especially at your age. So, I’m not going to tell you to do something I couldn’t do.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with dating inexpensively if you’re thoughtful. Just don’t be so cheap that you’re freakish about things. There are plenty of nice, stylish places that don’t cost an arm and a leg. A picnic and a Frisbee will go a long way on a pretty day! Your efforts to be a gentleman and make things happen in creative ways will be a lot more charming to any lady worth dating than throwing down an extra $100 at a snooty restaurant you can’t afford.
The other thing is to make dating part of your monthly budget. In your situation, it’s a legitimate expense, and you need to make it part of your financial game plan. Then, if you’re seeing someone on a regular basis, and the money in the “dating” envelope is getting low, you can explain to her that you’re working hard to manage your money properly so you’ll be wealthy one day.
This will make you even more attractive to the right kind of person, because it shows that you’re mature enough and responsible enough to be thinking toward and planning for the future!
Nix the lawn service?
We currently pay to have our lawn mowed each week. This expense is figured into our monthly budget, but we’re not quite out of debt yet. My wife says this is a luxury at this point, and I should cut the grass myself until we’re out of debt. What do you think?
I think it depends a lot on your income. If you’re a surgeon making $350,000 a year, then making lawn care part of your monthly budget is probably pretty reasonable. Now, if you’re only making $26,000 a year, you probably need to get behind the mower and start pushing it yourself!
Is this a snobbish attitude? I don’t think so. It’s a simple matter of mathematics. What is your personal time worth in the marketplace, and should you be plying your trade out in the world rather than mowing the lawn?
Let’s say you’re an attorney who charges $400 an hour. In that case, you’re probably going to be better off out there lawyering – especially if you’re trying to get out of debt – than you would pushing a mower. But if you make $12 an hour, it’s a good idea for you to be cutting your own grass, isn’t it?
Whether or not something is a “luxury” depends on your own personal income and financial situation. That’s how I look at it.