Marriage can be tough enough, but the recession is making it even more difficult for working professionals to stay together.
As more workers focus on out-of-state jobs, more couples are being forced to live separate lives. Are you and your better half apart more often now? Don’t resign yourself to a life of loneliness. Here are a few frugal tips for strengthening your marriage, even when you’re miles apart.
1. Think of the little things. Invent a holiday all your own commemorating the day you met, your first kiss or even the first time that you said “I love you,” and send your sweetheart a Hallmark card (Stock Quote: CRWN) for $3.45, plus 45 cents for the stamp. Too pricey? Wal-Mart (Stock Quote: WMT) carries Hallmark Value Cards that cost as little as 48 cents. Remember, it’s the thought that counts.
2. Be dramatic. People say you can’t put a price tag on love but, chances are, if you moved somewhere else to find work, spending $79.99 for a bouquet of roses is not going to work. Impress your partner with a Lovopoly Gamesheet. Though it is patterned after the world famous Monopoly game, you can customize it with photos, love notes and reminiscences of your time together for as little as $19.95.
3. Take advantage of technology. Cell phones help lovers keep in touch, but those sweet nothings can cost you. You can get a 450 minute plan for as little as $40 a month. However, if you go over your minutes (as lovers often do), you could end up paying 35 to 40 cents per minute for each additional minute of sweet talking.
Then again, sweet nothings can be whispered for almost no cost online. Internet communications systems such as Skype and Yahoo! VoIP (Stock Quote: YHOO) enable users to dial landlines and mobile phones through their computer for as little as 1 cent per minute. Moreover, Skype has a video chat function, allowing users to see each other as they talk. And if you both have Skype, video chatting is free.
4. Make your credit/debit card work for you. The average American belongs to at least 13 different reward or loyalty programs, such as credit card frequent flier mile programs, according to Points.com, a site that allows members to exchange miles or other points. Why not use your card rewards to go on a romantic hideaway with the one you love?
Though most cards will only give you 1 to 1.25 reward miles for every dollar spent, you can download an aggregator such as MilePort to track your loyalty program benefits or go to Points.com, where can consolidate your points and miles or even trade them on the open market. But beware: Trades are not mile-for-mile or point for point. So if you buy 1,000 miles on U.S. Airways (Stock Quote: LCC), and you want to use them for American Airlines (Stock Quote: AMR), you’ll get fewer than 100 miles. However, you can redeem points and miles to pay for a hotel for the night or give your sweetheart a gift certificate to a store of their choice.
5. Record everything. Save words, send pictures. A top shelf Nikon D300 SLR digital camera will run you as much as $1,700. A Cannon (Stock Quote: CAJ) PowersShot EI digital camera is more affordable at $200. However, thrifty shoppers can preserve their memories (and their bottom line) with the Argus Camera Bean Digital compact camera, which retails for $44.19.
6. Count the days. Being apart for weeks, months, or years can be difficult for a couple, but you can get through it, especially if you have the benefit of ticking off the days until you’re back together. You can get a 2009 desk pad calendar for as little as $5.29 or, if you want to share the experience with the one you love, you can let them view your electronic calendar on Google (Stock Quote: GOOG) or Apple's iCal (Stock Quote: AAPL) for free.
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