The other day while driving I was listening to some Dave Ramsey. In case you’re not familiar, briefly, Dave wants people to live biblically with their money, meaning stay out of debt, control your money instead of letting it control you and be generous along the way.
He has a radio show and people call in with all kinds of scenarios asking his advice. Very rarely do I ever see Dave not have an answer. In fact, I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen it . . . until the other day.
A young never married guy called in and said, “Hey Dave, I’m following your plan. No debt, I have a budget etc. I’m not married but I want to be. Here’s my question, how much should I budget for that pursuit?”
One thing about Dave is that he’s always honest with people and he just laughed and said, “I have not been in that world for so long, I have no idea.” After both he and the caller laughed a little, he did toss out a couple of thoughts, but it made me think of a couple of important ideas and some practical ones if you find yourself in that position.
To begin with, as a single person you need to have a handle on your money. I’ve written once about this before, but you and your money are not less important because you are not married. The biblical principles for money apply to all of us, no matter what our marital status is. I messed this up quite a bit in my 20 years of singleness (as well as doing a few smart things) and I’ll share more about that later.
Secondly, I think it can be really healthy, if you are in search for a spouse mode, to intentionally budget both some money and time in that direction. It is ok, and in fact I would suggest a good idea, to be intentional about looking for said spouse. As is well documented all over this blog, I’m not a big believer in platitudes that say, “It will just happen” or “God will bring you the one at the right time” or “being content with singleness“. Again, there are probably double digit posts here on this. We have to act. Especially if you are out of college and living in the “real world” so to speak.
Now this is different than obsessing over it, making it an idol, being desperate for it, or letting it run your whole walk with God. That’s all bad and admittedly it can be a fine line. But intentionality, especially when involves doing it with God and within His guidelines, is always good. In any context including this one.
That means I’m going to have to carve out time and, as the caller mentioned, carving out some budget money is not a bad idea either. But again, I need to be intentional with both, because I don’t have a limitless supply of either.
Let me throw out a few ideas about how one might do that. A couple of caveats here. I did some of these at some level, but I did not really handle my money as well as I should have as a single. Also, these are just ideas. I would really love it if some others would chime in here with either ideas that they’ve used or that they might try out if they thought about it. Finally, this assumes that you actually have a budget. If you don’t I’d start there**.
I think I’d start with an overall spouse search budget. Then I’d have a couple of sub categories.
I’d have a meet people budget. Depending on your mode of operation this could include different things. But as an example budget an amount for online dating. Look for deals. A couple of hints here. Rotate your paid subscription to different sites. For example, sign up for three months of Eharmony, then if you want, sign up for three months of Match. They’ll let you keep your profile for free so you can easily rotate the one you are paying for. Look for promos. Eharmony will do free weekends for example. The point is, part of your monthly budget could go to this.***
Then have an an actual go out with these people budget. If you aren’t in a relationship this does not need to be large amount. I know there is debate in certain circles about the guy paying which I get. I think in general it’s good for us to pay. However, we should have a budget for what we are paying and frankly I wouldn’t bust your budget meeting someone the first couple to times. It’s ok to go somewhere nice, but just be smart. Too much too soon is not helpful anyway.
Now, if you get serious about someone, it is time to stop putting money in the meet someone budget, for now, and start putting more into the actual going on dates budget. Eventually if things go really well, you could start a ring budget.
A question I thought of is this, “What if I have dating budget money left over at the end of the month?” Maybe nothing shook out or led to any dates. Or maybe a couple of inexpensive meet ups but nothing beyond that. Great. Now I have extra money.
I don’t think I’d roll it over into the dating fund of the next month although maybe now and then you could. Perhaps put it toward savings or towards a particular purchase you’d like to make in the future. Maybe some months you spend it on you. The point is, you don’t have to spend all you have allotted each month, but you have it if you need it.
The point here is have a plan. See what works. Try different things. But budget for it.
I welcome other thoughts here. What do you think?
** For a great budgeting app go here.
*** This is a pretty good breakdown of some different sites.