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How to Afford a Long Distance Relationship

  August 12

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Grenada West IndiesBack in the olden days (like 3ish years ago), hubs and I had to have a major long distance relationship. I went to grad school three hours away from him. We spent the first few months of our marriage apart. Then, he went to Grenada and we spent even more months apart. It was crazy. I would not want to do it again ever. Not only is it expensive to try to see each other but it tugs at the ol’ heartstrings too.

I was talking to another blogger recently, Kassandra, who had to do the same exact thing, and I asked her to write about it. If you don’t know Kassandra yet, she is a self-employed wife and step-mom who is striving to live life beyond what money can buy. She writes about a variety of topics and personal experiences that all intersect with money. Check her out at More Than Just Money but only after you read her awesome post right here. 😉

Keeping the fire burning bright in a relationship is hard enough when you are living under the same roof. But what if you are in a long distance relationship and you are on a tight budget?

This was my reality for over four years. My husband and I first met in Montreal, Canada where I lived at the time. My husband was based in New York. After a few months of constant communication, we decided to try our hand at a long distance relationship.

Not long after I met my husband, I decided to get very serious about paying off my debt – $55,000 worth of debt. I had already come clean about my financial situation to my husband and he was non-judgemental and very supportive of my desire to be debt free. However this meant that every expense was under a microscope and my travel budget was slashed to pretty much zero. My debt presented a real challenge to our relationship because nothing beats seeing your partner in person.

Here are a few strategies that I used that may help you to keep your travel costs to a minimum and maintain your relationship in the process.

Benefit From Technology

With technology being what it is today, there are several ways of communicating with your partner for virtually free or at least very cheaply. Text messaging and email have become the standard go-to method of communication but that wasn’t enough for me. I needed to at least virtually see my husband every day and with a decent high-speed internet connection, options such as Skype and Google Hangouts allowed us to make free video calls. If you have a smartphone, and a data plan, then you can video chat using your cellphone.

You can also surprise your significant other like I did by sending recorded audio and visual clips via Whatsapp, iMessage (for iPhone users) and other similar apps. By sending my husband a photo of wherever I happened to be, or a pretty cat that I chatted up during one of my walks, it helped my husband to feel like he was a part of my day. The best was when my husband sang to me “My Cherie Amour” in an audio clip. Priceless!

I had my share of frustrating conversations with my husband because our relationship hit bumps in the road. The distance was a huge bump. Sometimes Google Hangouts and Skype didn’t feel like cooperating when we were in the middle of a disagreement and we needed to talk things through on the phone. As I did, you may want to check with your phone or mobile service provider about their long distance rate plans and data/text messaging packages especially if your love is living outside of the US.

Structure Your Visits

Despite advances in technology, there is nothing like sharing space and time in the presence of your loved one. My husband and I discussed a travel frequency that was acceptable and affordable for both of us. For example, you may decide to visit the other every 8-12 weeks like we did and plan your visits around long week-ends. We also took turns visiting each other. This is all about being fair and considerate of each other’s schedules and pocketbooks.

During your visits, find free or inexpensive ways to spend time together. Instead of trying to cram in a bunch of social outings, focus on each other instead as time is usually short and bittersweet. I can recall that every time I would drop my husband off at the bus station or airport, I would break down into a mess of tears and my husband didn’t hide his sadness either. Saying goodbye is the Hardest. Thing. Ever.

Transportation options available to you mainly depend on the geographic location of you and your partner. Traveling by plane may be the cheaper or only option. Research times in the year and days of the week when flying may be more affordable. In my case, taking a Greyhound bus or driving my car outnumbered the cost of flying every time. Whenever I did fly, it was always done using air miles. However paying the required taxes and airport fees was costlier than a round-trip bus ticket.

If you or your partner travel on business then it may be an opportunity for you both to rendezvous in a different city. With the cost of business travel covered by the employer, you can split the cost with your loved one for their transportation and meals. My husband I met up in Washington, DC, Miami, FL and Toronto, Canada during business trips in order to see each other. Whatever it takes to keep the flames burning folks!

Whether you’re in a long distance relationship or part of a commuter marriage, once you and your partner are invested in the success of your relationship, like my husband and I were, then you will be able to surmount the financial and emotional challenges that may come with it.

What, if any, has your experience been with a long distance relationship? Are there any reasons why you would not consider this type of relationship?

 

Keeping the fire burning bright in a relationship is hard enough when you are living under the same roof. But what if you are in a long distance relationship and you are on a tight budget? https://www.catherinealford.com/2014/08/12/afford-a-long-distance-relationship/

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41 responses to “How to Afford a Long Distance Relationship

  1. Really interesting to learn how you managed that on a budget. Was this before you were married or were you married part of the time too? Is this the first time that you’ve actually been able to live together since you moved to New York? My husband and I hate to be apart but we relied a lot on Skype and Google chat when my business travel increased. It wasn’t that I was traveling all the time, but when I did the trips were long (3 weeks).

    1. The fours year LDR included a little over a year of marriage and yes to being able to finally live together once I relocated to NY. Three week business trips are indeed long so it’s important to use whatever means as you mentioned Deb to keep in touch daily. I can relate to hating being apart and we still have occasional periods due to our business travels.

  2. Thanks for sharing Kassandra 🙂 I did a long distance relationship for many years in my late-teens, early 20’s while I was in university and didn’t have a lot of money. Eventually the infrequent trips and lack of connection made it end, but I can totally empathize with making sure you make the time for it.

    My two closest friends have had to do long distance for years because of education, and their best advice was to not just share the highlights. Share the small details as well, which you would if you lived there. The other part was to make sure you had good friends so you weren’t living in the phone-world. It’s easier (but still hard) to not be tied up waiting for the call every night if you have a great circle of friends.

    1. That is so true Alicia. Having a strong support network of family and friends do help to ease the strain of being in an LDR. I couldn’t have done it otherwise.

  3. I was in a long distance relationship for two years in college and I thought it was the worst thing ever. Now that I have been married for almost 11 years, I think it would be nice to get space every now and then. 🙂 The situation is not ideal, but thankfully technology has come a long way since my days of long distancing and you can feel even more connected with FaceTime or Google hangouts.

    1. Ha ha! Yes alone time is actually quite healthy and I do keep busy and don’t mind being alone for a temporary/finite period of time. Years however was not so much my cup of tea 🙂 Are you married to the same person that you were in the 2 year long distance relationship Shannon?

  4. Mr PoP and I did long distance for most of our time dating, with a few different distances between us (5 time zones, 8 hour train ride, and 2.5 hour drive). It wasn’t always easy, but I don’t have any regrets as it really encouraged us both to have lives outside of one another, too!

    1. I agree with you Mrs. Pop that it does encourage each person to be more independent and have their own interests. Incredible about the time zones and congratulations for making your long distance relationship a lasting success.

  5. I was in a long distance relationship when I was in High School (my bf at the time was in college). I learned to type fast thanks to AOL chat. I remember spending hours and hours chatting with him (that was before the days of skype). I also asked for lots of phone cards (remember those) for Christmas.

  6. My now husband and I were long distance for several years. He’s from Europe and I’m from the US, so we had to rely on student work visas for him to come here and visas for me to go there. It was all expensive. The thing that was hardest for me was knowing that seeing one another was dependent on those government issued visas, and I hated that loss of control in something so important.

    1. That without a doubt is very stressful and extremely expensive Lauren! Having gone through the immigration process myself, I can relate to the worry that our relationship and the future of it was in the control of someone else. In my case it was a US immigration officer at a local interview but we were done with the interview in less than 10 minutes! So glad to hear that you and your husband are finally together.

  7. I love everything you write, Kassandra!

    Back about 11 years ago, my hubby wasn’t even my boyfriend. We were in college and something was blooming but nothing had started yet. He left the state for two weeks and we made full use of AOL IM. We started dating as soon as he was back on town and IM programs have remained a mainstay of our relationship.

    Kudos to you all for finding a way.

    1. Thanks so much Kirsten! You got a two week taste of it and fortunately that was all she wrote but I bet it made the little love bud bloom! Congrats on 11 years of marriage 🙂

  8. My partner and I were in a long distance relationship for almost 2 years. It was the hardest thing ever. Time differences, tech issues, longing and trying to keep a busy, connected life, while separate were issues. I was living in NYC and he was in Portland. Goodbyes were so painful. Heart-wrenching. It felt great to move in with him, but that had its own challenges, too. I would never want to do a long distance relationship again! We survived, which is rare, but it takes a LOT of work and commitment.

    1. Your take on this mirrors my own Melanie. It’s true, living together now has required some adjustments on both our parts but it beats living apart! I don’t think I would do it again either and thank God I won’t have to.

  9. Aw, I really love the idea of sending each other pictures to make it feel like your other half is actually there with you! My boyfriend and I have never been long distance, but I did have a few LDR back in the day. That was mostly before Skype and Google Hangouts, and it was really challenging. We were at least able to talk via the computer (like Skype, minus the webcam). I honestly wouldn’t be keen to do it again, but I’m very happy you and your husband are finally together under one roof!

    1. I really can’t imagine being in such a relationship where I couldn’t use video chat or IM. I don’t think I would have fared very well. Thanks so much E.M.!

  10. I covered how we afforded our long distance relationship in my blog a week or so ago, but I’d like to add that signing up for frequent flyer miles cards can be really beneficial as well. My boyfriend and I signed up a little late with Southwest, but it did end up helping me get a free plane ticket to see him, and every little bit counts! Alexis from Fitnancials also covered the mental aspects of long distance relationships last week, and one takeaway I appreciated from her article on LDRs was making a countdown, and planning things to do around your S.O.’s visit. If you keep yourself occupied, it won’t seem like quite such a long time!

    1. Your suggestion for signing up for air miles programs is definitely one my husband and I did and it’s a great idea to find ways to get excited about upcoming visits and have a plan. I definitely didn’t sit around waiting for the phone to ring because we both had lives to live but years of separation do take it’s toll.

  11. I am in a long distance relationship starting today and love reading other posts about LDR. My boyfriend is going to China for a year while I moved to Chicago from St. Louis. Having a plan once the LDR is all over makes it a lot easier as one day we will be together again.

    1. Dealing with a vastly different time zone and location such as China is a challenge but I’m sure you’re ready for it. Best wishes to you Alexis.

  12. I have a friend who did the whole long-distance relationship thing for over a year before his girlfriend moved to our state. They would switch off flying to each other’s state about once every month or so. I’m not gonna lie, I was skeptical the long distance thing could work but they are now happily engaged so I guess it works for some people.

    1. DC, LDR’s are truly not for everyone. Both parties really need to be 100% committed and are looking for a long term outcome together. You have to constantly check in with the other to make sure they are still invested in the relationship on all fronts.

  13. Long distance relationships are my idea of a personal hell.

    The high phone bills, the frustration over time zones, the constant counting down of days…I wouldn’t do it again in a million years! (yes, if my boyfriend and I have to move apart for any reason, you’re welcome to head over to emmalincoln.com and tell me “never say never”)

    And the money, let’s not forget the money! The last time I was in a LDR, I flew 3000 miles every 4 weeks to see my significant other. 12 hour Southwest flights may be the cheapest, but they’re pretty long…

    1. It really isn’t a piece of cake as you said Emma. But I for one am glad that my DH and I stood by each other throughout the entire process. Don’t know if I would ever do that again, but I hope to never have to even think about it!

  14. Having spent most of my work life “on the road” and dating men in the business who also work on the road, long distance is an inevitable part of all my relationships. Communication and having something to look forward to was always key. My bf was working in Europe from Jan-June, which meant I had three months (halfway point) to figure out how to get there cheaply- hello credit card rewards!

  15. My husband and I were long distance for two years before we were married. We made it work by talking on the phone and seeing each other on the weekends. One thing that helped was that we knew we would be together once my husband finished school. Obviously it worked out!

  16. Wow, congratulations of making it work, Kassandra! Long distance relationships become a lot easier when there’s an end in sight. My college long distance relationship didn’t survive, but that definitely worked out for the best 🙂

    1. I agree, there has to be a point/end goal for it to work. Glad you found out sooner rather than later that your college relationship wasn’t for you Addison 🙂

  17. We’ve spent several years of our marriage apart due to work/school and that whole “who’s country are we going to live in ?” issue 🙂 We tried to see each other at least quarterly, but there were a few times that we went longer. Talking everyday, even for a few minutes, was key to keeping us connected.

    1. Nice to know somebody who went through the “which country” debate 🙂 I agree Tre, communicating every day is a mainstay to a long distance relationship, even if it’s for a couple of minutes.

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