My son has an October birthday, and my wife and I both have birthdays in November. My daughter was born in January. Between birthdays and all the other holidays in between, I think it’s safe to say that we’re going to rival the retail industry in how we prolong the holiday season.
This is why my wife and I agree every year to divert birthday gift money for each other to other areas — like smart investments.
No, it’s not the most romantic thing. (In fact, my wife has an incredible desire to spend this year’s birthday in England, but our long-term financial plan sadly won’t allow it yet.) And, it might seem extreme to others. But, let me explain how we came to the decision to delay gratification when it comes to birthday celebrations. You might just see a method to our money madness.
We Use Gift Money to Make More Money
Instead of giving each other gifts, we give each other savings and home projects. We may go to dinner or a movie — and leave the kids with my wife’s folks — to celebrate a bit. However, most of the money we would otherwise spend goes to the CDs or investments we have.
Plus, since my wife loves home projects, we find cost-effective ways to get those jobs done. Our focus is small investments that increase our home value. The latest one is a backyard patio. I was hesitant at the value it would add, but you can’t argue with the ROI statistics. Even if it comes out lower, it could be the deciding factor between a buyer choosing our home and another. After being in real estate, we’re all for the quick sale.
Food for Thought: 20 Home Renovations You Can Make for $1K or Less
We See Time Together as the True Gift
This might lead you to believe that we only care about savings, but to us, time together is even more important than the money. Does having a secure financial future even matter if you’re unhappy or don’t enjoy the company of your loved ones?
Instead of us always focusing on monetary gifts, we make time to be with each other and do things for each other. Not only does this enrich our relationship, but it gives our children examples of what a marriage should look like.
And, when we do spend money, it’s often to do things together. As I mentioned in the introduction, my wife wants to go to England. When we do it, it will not be put on credit. We will do it the old-fashioned way — save for it — and we’ll use the income from our side hustles.
More on Savings Strategies: Budgeting Tips for Couples Who Want to Save Money
We’d Rather Deny Ourselves and Give to Our Kids
I hate the thought of not giving my children things. I don’t care what it is — toys, books, music lessons, the best school or sports activities — I want them to have it all. Since there is only so much money we can spend each month, my wife and I often deny ourselves things we really want to make sure our kids get what they want (within reason). I’m sure many parents out there can relate.
I’ll work harder at my job or find new ways of bringing in income with my side hustles. We will get rid of things like cable (who watches anything but Netflix anyway these days?) or decrease our mobile phone data plan to save money. We even put off getting a minivan, which my wife is convinced we absolutely need this second. (I, however, refuse to put the nail in the coffin of my youth … but I digress.)
In the end, we force ourselves into “money martyrdom” and give rather than receive. We give to our children, we give to our future grandchildren and we give to our future selves. Anybody can avoid delaying gratification — and it’s become a cliché these days — but, it takes a true sense of purpose to have your “why” be centered on the things money can’t buy.
Read More: 6 Ways Happy Couples Talk About Money
More From Our Smart Money Squad
- Why I Asked My Husband to Stop Buying Me Gifts
- Home for the Holidays? My Favorite Ways to Have a No-Spend Weekend
- Why My Family Stopped Giving Each Other Pricey Presents
- Watch: Learn How One Frugal Couple Found Financial Freedom for Just $1,000 a Month
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