9 Ways to Spend Less on Your Significant Other (And Not Get Killed!)


Being in a relationship is expensive — whether you've been together a day or a decade. That means that at some point you'll need to reign in the spending (unless your last name is Gates or Rockefeller). Here are nine ways to do it without ending up on your partner's hit list.

1. Buy Dollar Store Greeting Cards

Tangible cards are quickly losing their appeal in this digital world (I stopped sending out holiday cards five years ago to preserve time, money, and paper), though they're not bygone relics just yet. It's still nice to receive one every now and again. But at an average price of $3 to $7 a pop — yes, some cards cost as much as a small meal now — they can put a considerable dent in your gift-buying budget over the course of a year. To scale back, ditch the premium greetings and hit up the dollar store.

"I've been purchasing greeting cards from the dollar store ever since I discovered them a few years back," says Kedal Perez, Coupon Sherpa's resident money-saving expert. "I often find the perfect card — sometimes two — for just 50 cents, compared to Hallmark cards costing $4 and up. In addition to holidays, I like to buy 'just because' cards for my husband when I remember to be a good wife. This habit saves me a ton and conveys the sentiment I'm looking for."

While you're there, don't forget to pick up other gift-giving essentials like gift bags, balloons, tissue paper, ribbons, and more.

2. Decorate a Gift Instead of Wrapping It

On one occasion, I didn't have birthday-specific gift wrap for a present for one of my nephews, and in a bind I decided to decorate the plain cardboard box with crayons. My lack of resources resulted in a gift with a thoughtful presentation that didn't cost any additional money. I've kept up this habit with other gifts throughout the year, keeping a considerable amount of cash in my pocket. You also can adopt this practice. Get creative, too. You can use all kinds of items — markers, glue and glitter, and other crafty-type items like bows and ribbons that you may have lying around.

3. Celebrate a Holiday Post-Holiday

Ready to be a prime-time savings boss? Celebrate big holidays like Valentine's Day and Christmas after February 14 and December 25. It'll probably take a bit of convincing on your part — having nothing to open on Christmas morning will seem strange — but if it works out for the both of you, you're looking at substantial markdowns on all the coveted gifts.

"My husband and I recently agreed to celebrate certain holidays [like Valentine's Day] after the fact to avoid mark-ups," Perez says. "He bought me a beautiful bouquet of orange roses and white lilies on February 15, and I loved them just as much as I would have a day earlier."

4. Buy Flowers From the Grocery Store

Speaking of flowers, you're spending too much if you're going to a local florist. It's an unfortunate fact, because I like to support small business — but they just don't have the discount buying power that large chain supermarkets do. You will have to contend with a more limited selection, perhaps, but that's an easy compromise to make when a beautiful bouquet doesn't make you weep for all the wrong reasons.

5. Shop the Clearance Section for Gifts

I'm always keeping my eye out for the perfect gift for my husband, and I hit the jackpot when it's from the clearance section. Whenever I'm shopping — for anything — that's the first place I go. I bypass the new arrivals, to the eye rolls of the associates, and get my discount on. This is a great tactic to cut costs on birthday, holiday, and anniversary gifts (or just ordinary wardrobe updates), and you can walk away with some amazing deals if you're shopping well out of season.

6. Make a Gift If You Have the Skills

I like receiving shiny gadgets as gifts from my husband, but I would equally appreciate anything he gave me that was completely handmade. The kind of dedication it takes to make a handcrafted gift sends the message that he'd rather spend time on something thoughtful than buy an item that will never have an ounce of sentiment. Those handmade Christmas ornaments would be treasured forever, but I would replace the iPhone he bought me as soon as a new one was released.

Brett Hamilton, whose business SIMPLE.BE was built on the idea of handmade gifts, agrees.

"My favorite way to give great gifts to my wife without spending too much is to custom-make practical gifts for her," he says. "One year I made her a new waterproof duffle bag from vinyl trucker tarps for soccer games. Last year it was a black and white tote bag made from old recycled sails. She loved it so much."

There is one slight complication with this tactic, however: Your SO might get used to the idea of receiving handmade gifts, so you may have to keep it up once you start it. But is that kind of appreciation really so bad?

7. Get Accustomed to Discount Dating

My husband and I have one rule for our dates (or at least I do): Never pay full price.

Seriously, if you're planning dates at full retail value, you're doing it all wrong — and you're paying dearly for it.

There's absolutely no reason you shouldn't be saving money on every date you have together, given the abundance and availability of daily-deal sites, coupon codes, free activities, BOGO deals, and other discount dating opportunities. Even when you can't find a discount, there's probably a way to shave off a few bucks if you're willing to adjust your plans. Take the movies, for instance. In my neck of the woods, a regular screening is no less than $12 (up to $22 when you start throwing in 3D and IMAX). But if you plan the date before noon, you can score $7 tickets at certain theaters like AMC. All you need is a little creative thinking to reduce of the cost of virtually any activity or meal date.

Also, don't forget to use your military or students discounts where available. My husband forgets to ask about military discounts all the time, which is why it's a good thing he has me. I never forget, and with the money I saved him on this-and-that admission, he has enough left over to buy me lunch.

I love when it works out like that.

8. Buy Refurbished Electronics When Appropriate

Some people are picky about the newness of their electronics, so you need to know your partner well enough to be certain they won't act like an ungrateful brat when they find out their gift is previously own or refurbished. Personally, I prefer that my phone is new — I don't like the idea of someone else using something that touches my face (I know it's clean, but still) — though I have no qualms with receiving, say, a refurbished iPad. Buying refurbished can save you hundreds of dollars — and these deals are available for a wealth of electronics, including video games — so whether or not to implement this tactic is a relevant conversation to have with your guy or girl.

9. Spend More Time and Effort Than Money

Now that we're past the materialistic and superficial things, let's get real: No amount of money you spend will ever equal the value of your time and effort. I touched on this a bit when I talked about handmade gifts, but it really applies to all aspects of your relationship. Gifts are nice, of course, but a reasonable person (read: a keeper) will choose a free date, gift, meal, or experience with you over something with a price tag any day. Learn how to pay attention to one another's needs before it jeopardizes the relationship, and you're on the right track to a happy life together. Good luck!

Do you have any ideas on how to spend less on your significant other without getting killed? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

I too love celebrating post holiday. Not only do you save money that way, but it always gives me something to look forward to as well.