The following is a guest post from Pauline Paquin, a long time reader who has recently started to blog over at Reach Financial Independence. Born and raised in Paris, France, Pauline blogs about how she has been traveling the world for the past 10 years, while trying to build wealth and achieve financial independence, and how you can follow your dreams and reach your goals too. You can follow Pauline on Twitter @RFIndependence.
So here you are, at the airport, crying. He (or she, but in this case, “she” is me, so “he” is a “he”) hugs you goodbye, and you promise that the long-distance relationship will not affect you as a couple. You are stronger than this, after all — nothing can take you apart.
Spoiler alert: long-distance relationships (LDRs) suck. Once you get your emotionally sobbing self back home and start frantically counting the days until you see each other again, you should also start counting your money. Yep, it is not only going to be hard, it is going to cost you, too.
The obvious costs of maintaining a long-distance relationship
Whether He moved across the country to go to college or He was that tanned and muscular bartender you met on your last exotic holiday, your phone bill is going to go through the roof. You can look into unlimited phone plans: Some include calls overseas, but most of the time the list of countries is limited. Home phones offer the same kind of service, with unlimited calls to a bigger number of countries, but mainly to other home phones, so that is assuming He has one.
If you both have a computer and a decent internet connection, which is not a given in many countries, even some where you would assume it is, like Italy for example, you can get a Skype account and call each other for free for hours.
And download WhatsApp on your smartphone to chat as you please with your loved one.
If you are staying together, it means that you have plans to see each other again. Good. Hopefully, you knew He was leaving a couple of months ago, so you have already stacked on tickets back and forth for the both of you. Not at the same time, obviously. You have thought about everything and synced your calendars to make sure you don’t forget whose turn it is to come over (and to dress nice for the occasion, but we will come to that later).
Now is the time to get a frequent flyer account, to apply for a credit card that earns you miles as rewards, to ask your family for airline coupons as birthday and Christmas gifts (unless He is not a welcome addition to the family). The sooner you book your tickets, the better, wherever the destination. Six to eight weeks in advance is usually the best time. Didn’t think about it until after He left? Check out last minute offers, and check them both ways, it may be cheaper for one of you to go than the other one.
As you will be spending a lot of time commuting back and forth, re-organize your life around your traveling schedule. Make good use of the time spent in transit to catch up on your reading, study, or write. As an added bonus, you will have plenty to talk about when you get there.
Costs you may not have thought about
You will be in a state of permanent anguish. What is going on over there? Who is He with? There is no way you can reunite wearing your favorite sweat pants or less than perfect hair and body. So yes, while normal couples get into a comfy routine, put on 5 pounds of “love handles” and don’t worry too much about always looking their best, you will be spending your time apart in salons and the gym, eager to see again that ”wow” in His eyes like when He first saw you.
Crazy splurges on outings and dressing up
You will see each other less and will probably want to mark the occasion. While in a LDR, you won’t settle for a night of movies on the couch. You will want to eat somewhere special ($$ka-ching$$), maybe have a drink before ($$ka-ching$$), drive around to see His new city ($ka-ching$), and lots of other very expensive activities that cohabiting couples haven’t enjoyed in a while. Of course, you will buy a new dress for the occasion, and maybe some heels too? ($$ka-chiiiiing$$)
Nights out with friends
While He was the only one you had eyes for, you probably stopped seeing many friends. Now that He is away, it is time to call the girls and organize a fun night, both to reconnect and forget how lonely you are without Him. Plus tax, plus tips.
Costs to your health are harder to estimate, but come on, do you really think you can stay up until 4am, which is when He wakes up and wants to talk for an hour? Can anyone go on like that for weeks, ingesting quantities of caffeine the next morning and walking around like a madly in love zombie?
The lack of sleep can affect your mood, your relations with other people (especially your coworkers), and can cost you a job promotion or worse…your job.
Maybe it will be time to reassess your LDR and, if it is really worth it, take the plunge and join Him over there?
Have you ever been in a LDR? Has it worked out for you? For your budget?