Today is my partner & I’s two-year anniversary since we started dating. In honour of this occasion, I’ve decided to summarize the biggest financial lessons I’ve learned from her over the past twenty-four months.
1. After school, continue to live like a student. Don't upgrade your lifestyle simply because you now earn a paycheque. Live simply, buy only what you need or love, and focus on eliminating student debt.
2. It doesn’t matter that you’re not an investment guru or that you don’t really know what a robo-advisor is. As long as your financial philosophy is premised on spending less than you earn and having a well-padded emergency fund, you will be fine. The rest can be easily learned.
3. Don’t be afraid to roll-up your sleeves and put in the work. My girlfriend worked full-time while in university (and in high school). From various retail jobs to cleaning fancy restaurants on weekend mornings, she worked everywhere. Although exhausted, she still had time to enjoy life and study.
4. Always bring your lunch to work and make dinner at home during the week. It's okay to treat yourself on your days off. If you are sick, you get a pass to order Uber Eats.
5. Also, eating vegan meals are cheap, healthy and delicious.
6. Check your local flyer for deals. It's a magical time when soy or almond milk is on sale.
7. Only buy items of clothing you love, not just like. Avoid trendy items.
8. You can drink coffee that was made the day before and not die. I still refuse to test this theory, but I have observed this directly.
9. Bunz Trading Zone is an excellent way to simultaneously de-clutter and get perishable items you actually need (i.e. coffee beans).
10. You can have an amazing Valentine’s Day for under $20. This year, we stayed home and made vegan spicy "tuna" sushi. It was delicious.
11. Take public transit everywhere. Even if that means riding the “vomit comet” after the subway is closed (readers from Toronto will understand this reference).
12. Spending money on your health is always worth it. Laughter, though, is always the best medicine. Even when you spend a full day at the hospital.
13. Same goes for pets.
14. Frugality is a lifestyle, not a means to an end. Don’t just view it as a temporary punishment that you must endure while paying down debt. Learn to spend on things that make you happiest and reduce (if not eliminate) your spending on everything else.
15. Related to that, don’t be cheap. If a loved one is having a bad day, buying them a cup of coffee or a small treat can make a world of a difference. You can afford it. You can also afford small monthly donations to a charitable organization.
16. You can have fun without spending a dime. Nature is the best example. Go for walks, hikes, whatever. It’s not only free, but it will be a necessary break from technology, other people, and all of the usual stresses of your everyday life.
17. There is nothing that binds two people together like a shared goal. Whether it's eating healthy, exercising regularly or saving for a down-payment, a mutual goal shows you that you must depend on one another to succeed.
18. Talk about your finances openly and regularly. It will bring you two closer together. If not, it will show you where your communication needs improvement.
I could go on, but I think I’ll stop for now. Thomas J. Stanley was right when he mentioned that having a frugal spouse is pivotal to becoming wealthy. I obviously didn’t know or care when I first met my girlfriend, but now I can easily see how significant her frugal lifestyle has impacted me.
Quite honestly I wouldn’t have been able to pay off $30,000+ of student loans without her. In the beginning of my financial journey, I bombarded her with questions about budgeting. Since she had just finished paying off her own student loans when we began dating, she was able to explain to me what worked for her. Since then, we regularly make time to review our budgets, savings, and goals. I firmly believe being on the same financial page, both in mindset and goals, is a fundamental pillar to a healthy relationship. I can't wait until this time next year when I'll be able to join her in the debt free pond!