Guest Post: Why I Can’t Afford to Start Dating
Note: Today’s guest post is by Cait, who writes over at Blonde on a Budget. She is a 20-something who is blogging about her journey from being maxed out, to becoming a balanced and financially sound woman.
Once twenty-something’s reach a major milestone, like graduating from university or turning 25, they are hit with a number of questions. When are you going to get married? What part of town are you looking to buy in? And when are you going to have kids? Being single at 26, my answer to most of those questions is, “I need a boyfriend first.” But the part I leave out is the fact that I can’t afford one right now.
I’ve been single for just over three years and haven’t dated much since going back to school last year. In that time, I don’t think I’ve missed having a boyfriend once. This could be because my schedule hardly lets up enough for me to even have a social life, but the truth is I made a conscious decision to stay single until I finish school (July 2012). Today I want to share with you why.
I Know My Priorities
Right now, my life revolves around three things: finishing school, paying down debt, and building some savings. Do I think I couldn’t accomplish those things with a partner by my side? Of course not, but I physically can’t afford to risk giving less of my time to any of these priorities.
If you haven’t read my blog before, here’s where I tell you that I currently have $19,000 of debt. I’m almost proud of that number, considering it was $28,000 just over 6 months ago! But it’s still a big number and something I think about daily. Until the day comes where paying off debt isn’t my #1 priority, I can’t afford to add a boyfriend to the mix. (And really, who’s going to be attracted to -$19,000 anyway!?)
I Know My Budget
Krystal has written a couple of great posts on why it costs more to be single. Some of her points are completely valid, especially the one about paying double for essential living costs. But when you don’t have a significant other in the first place, it can cost a lot to get to the point where you would be splitting your bills in half.
For example, my current budget includes about $30/week for groceries and another $15-20 for take-out (including coffee). Since dating usually starts over a casual coffee or dinner, and eventually leads into spending the night and then going on vacation together, I need to be in a situation where I can afford to add dating to my budget. Owing $5,000 on a credit card makes it difficult to enjoy those indulgences, which leads me to the final reason I can’t afford to start dating yet.
I Know Myself
When I have a boyfriend, I’m that much more likely to overindulge. Having a partner in crime makes going to the movies and trying new restaurants that much more accessible. I also love giving random surprises to brighten my guy’s day. Unfortunately, I know I don’t have the extra dollars for surprises, birthdays, and Christmas gifts that are needed in a serious relationship.
Part of my journey from being an overindulging idiot to becoming a financially sound woman is changing both my spending and saving habits. If I were to start dating someone today, I can almost guarantee that I would go back to ignoring my budget and living beyond my means. I can’t afford to start dating until I can trust myself to make good decisions that won’t hurt my debt repayment plan.
With all of this being said, if a relationship fell into my lap tomorrow, I wouldn’t shoo it away. I want to start a life with someone, as much as the next person, I just can’t afford to look for it right now – at least not until I’m debt free. When I finish school next summer, I will have no student debt and hopefully no credit card debt. Maybe then I can start working on answering some of the questions every twenty-something is faced with.
Author: Krystal Yee
I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.