If you thought dating was tough with one half of the couple stuck on Tekong during BMT, wait till you get into a legitimate, literal long-distance relationship.
Maybe one of you is going to be studying abroad or has just been posted overseas by their employer. Or maybe you’re from different countries altogether.
Whatever your reasons for having to be apart, and no matter how many Skype dates you schedule, you will of course want to see each other in the flesh, and not just as pixels on a screen, as often as possible. But flying back and forth to see each other can get mighty expensive.
Here are four tips for keeping your long-distance relationship alive without going broke.
Keep things frugal when you visit each other
Sure, plane tickets can cost a lot of money. But it’s usually more than the cost of flights that makes seeing each other expensive.
When you’re seeing each other after such a long time spent apart, it’s understandable that you want to make the most of your time together.
So you go on dates every day, hit up all the nice restaurants you’ve been wanting to try together, maybe take a side trip or two somewhere else. In short, you want to spoil each other rotten. That’s a recipe for disaster if one of you is cash-strapped.
Just because you’re being thrifty doesn’t mean you can’t still have a great time together. Go grocery shopping together and cook special meals at home, take long walks in parks, watch movies at home. Keep every visit frugal and you might actually have the money to visit each other more often. (Here are 7 stress-free ways to manage your money!)
Be honest about your financial situation and what you can afford
Unless you’re religiously keeping score, one of you is likely to be spending more than the other to keep your long-distance relationship together.
You don’t have to give your partner a blow by blow account of every cent and every asset to your name. But it does help to be transparent about how much you can afford to spend on all these visits. (Find out what money issues that needs to be discussed before marriage!)
For instance, if your partner is studying in the US while you’re in Singapore, visiting them twice a year might be out of your budget. Discuss this with your partner so you don’t have to swallow your guilt in silence or secretly try to find ways to raise extra cash.
Plan way ahead and look out for cheap flights
Unless your partner is some kind of nomad who’s in a different city every few months, you always know that you need to buy flights to the same place.
That means you can plan way ahead, watch for cheap flights like a hawk and potentially snag the cheapest tickets in town. Sign up for all the airline newsletters and set alerts on aggregators like Kayak so you are notified whenever there are cheap tickets. (In europe, but budget? Find out these 5 places you can visit in europe that won't bust your budget!)
For instance, I’ve seen return tickets from Singapore to London for as little as $670 on Kayak. Nobody will believe me because it’s such an incredibly low price, with tickets typically costing around $1,000.
Meet in the middle
Sometimes, instead of one of you flying halfway across the world to meet the other, it might be cheaper and fairer for both parties to meet in the middle for a change. This is also a great option if you tend to go on holiday together anyway whenever you meet.
For instance, if one of you is working in Melbourne while the other is in Singapore, you could both meet in Bali. Flights from Singapore to Bali and Melbourne to Bali are cheaper than a flight between Singapore and Melbourne, and the cost of living in Bali is so much lower that you’ll be able to do more on the same budget.
This article was first published in MoneySmart.