When you work hard, you want to play hard. We get it. You deserve to enjoy the finer things in life, and you can have them—you just have to be smart and strategic with your spending. Sticking to a budget while saving toward financial goals doesn’t mean you can’t splurge a little.
With the holidays fast approaching and the season of giving upon us, wouldn’t it be amazing if the special moments you plan for yourself and your partner weren’t just memorable, but also spectacular?
Creating experiences of this caliber can seem daunting when you’re stressed at work, digging your way out of student loan debt, or have your sights set on earning the coveted title of “first-time homeowner” in the next few years.
But keeping the romance alive as you crush your long-term financial and career goals is key to your overall happiness. And planning for “spectacular” is actually easier than you think.
You just need two things: savvy budgeting skills and unique gifts ideas. Luckily, I can help in both departments.
First, let’s talk money.
Budget Smart to Reverse-Engineer “Spectacular”
Planning a spectacular experience probably won’t be cheap, but the good news is that you have time on your side, especially if you’re planning to celebrate the holidays, a birthday or anniversary in a big way. Those celebrations fall on the same date every year, after all. Once you’ve nailed down a date, decide how much you want to spend, and then start budgeting. Don’t worry about choosing the gift yet.
You’ll never ruin the occasion or, worse, your credit (yikes!) if you break that larger savings goal into monthly or even weekly targets. To help you meet the mark even faster, eyeball your budget to find expenses you could eliminate entirely, such as cable and magazine subscriptions, or cut back on, such as dining out. Then, add that saved money to your celebration stash.
Once you’ve adjusted your budget, you can move on to the fun part—spending the money you’ve socked away all those home-cooked evenings ago.
You want to strike the perfect balance of luxury and novelty when creating your special occasion. Here are a handful of spectacular—swoonworthy, even—experiences you can enjoy with your special someone.
Loosen the knots. A side-by-side couples massage is an amazing way to forget about the daily grind and focus on each other. If you’re willing to schedule your massages on a weekday morning, which typically is a slow time for spas outside of tourist areas, you might even cash in on a discount. Also, consider joining sites like TheRedDoor and SpaWeek, which offer exclusive discounts, rewards bonuses, and other membership perks before they are announced to the public. And if you’re really enjoying your nights in together, check out Zeel and let the spa (and a certified message therapist) come to you.
Get palate-personal. If you and your partner are big time foodies, hire a personal chef to create a memory you can both savor. Thumbtack, a budget-friendly site that helps you find professionals in your area, allows you to compare quotes from local personal chefs. PlateDate matches you with top-notch chefs who use locally grown ingredients. If you already have a chef in mind, be proactive; contact him or her and provide your budget, as well as the details and vision of your romantic dinner, including the number of courses and cuisine choices.
Call in a celebrity. Besides cooking for large TV-studio audiences, some celebrity chefs find time to make house calls. When you opt for an intimate private cooking lesson for two, the chef brings all of the ingredients and beverages. Premium concierge sites, including TrulyExperiences and IfOnly, execute the entire plan impeccably. If you prefer to do the legwork yourself, reach out to your favorite celebrity chef through one of the many booking agencies in this niche.
Go the extra (nautical) mile. A day or weekend trip on a private yacht is a great way to celebrate a shared love of the sea, hidden beaches, and seaside restaurants. To reduce the cost of a yacht rental and accompanying provisions without skimping on safety or comfort, speak to a broker, harbor master, or yacht club members and ask for referrals. There are also sites like GetMyBoat, that are like AirBnB for boats. Once you share the details of your personal tastes and interests, you might even be able to shave off a few bucks by eliminating unnecessary accessories.
Glamp your getaway. If you already enjoy globetrotting with your partner, try glamping—glamour camping—instead of booking a hotel suite or a place on AirBnB. Sites such as Glamping and Glamping Hub include an array of options to suit modest and bottomless budgets. And, if you’re a pro at paying your rewards credit card on time and in full every month, redeem your bonus points. to drastically reduce the cost of your airfare. The money you’ll save could allow you to vineyard hop with a guide in Johannesburg, take a private tour to marvel at Buenos Aires’ legendary street art, or book Cupid’s Capsule on The London Eye with champagne and chocolate truffles. You’ll earn “best partner ever” status, for sure.
Some of the best things in life aren’t free, but that’s ok. If you splurge wisely, you’ll create some amazing memories with your favorite someone.
Got a favorite money hack for couples? Leave a comment below. Or share this article with a friend who should pamper herself and partner (without pinching pennies).