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Christian Living

Finance

Date Dollars and Second Honeymoons

Couple on Date

When I searched for my knight in shining armor, I never expected him to ride in on a jet.   But alas, my knight was really a pilot named K-Bob and his jet wasn’t the only thing that was supersonic.  Time also flew around this guy.  When we were dating, we’d find ourselves lingering over pie and coffee at our favorite restaurant.  We got so caught up in conversation, that we were often shocked to discover we’d been talking for hours!  I should have clued into the fact that time was flying when a new shift of waitresses appeared to refill our coffee cups.

When Bob proposed, I protested, “When I’m with you time flies so quickly that if I married you, I’d be an old lady before I know it!”  Eventually, I gave in and married the flyboy, just yesterday. . . or so it seems.

Many years later, we have seven children and have made twelve military moves, but our favorite “couple time” is still spent in a restaurant, chatting at dinner and lingering over coffee.  But a weekly date night can add up to big bucks and put a significant dent in our family’s entertainment budget if we’re not careful.   We’ve learned to stretch a dollar just like great conversation over coffee and save significant date dollars to make those dinners financially palatable.  Here are a few ideas:

  • FSIs – Free standing inserts are the coupon inserts from your Sunday paper.  Mainline restaurants offer great coupon values in FSIs that can add up to 50% off the bill, or almost $400 per year!
     
  • Newspapers – Quickly scan the “Living” or “Entertainment” section of your local paper for weekly restaurant specials.  It may require going out on a Tuesday instead of Wednesday.  What only takes about 10 seconds to check can save you $10 (or more).
     
  • Internet – Find your favorite restaurant’s Web site and check out their values.  Many sites will offer printable coupons as well as weekly specials.  Try looking under www. (favorite restaurant’s name).com.  For example, www.bennigans.com.  On my Web site at www.elliekay.com I have links to coupon sources such as www.valpak.com that find local coupon values based on your zip code or www.coolsavings.com where you are e-mailed information on great deals.   
     
  • Two for One/One for Two! – If your fave place doesn’t offer a “buy one/get one free” special, then why not try the new trend of sharing a meal?  This savvy approach is especially smart at a restaurant that’s notorious for serving larger portions.  You may have to pay a small surcharge for an extra plate, but your wallet (and waistlines) will thank you.  
     
  • Entertainment Books – These coupon books cost around $35 and are used as fundraisers for a non-profit organization such as a school.  Go to www.entertainment.com to find offers near you.  Not only do they feature restaurant coupons, but they also offer great values on a variety of local and national services.  But be forewarned:  they’re not cost effective if you leave them at home!

To make your date night even more valuable, why not put the money you “save” each week into a special “second honeymoon” account? I know of several couples who did this and were able to splurge on their anniversary with a special trip.  This is not only good financial stewardship, but it’s a fabulous investment in your marriage.  Here are a few tips to make sure that you don’t let the budget for your honeymoon get-a-way get away from you:

  • Set Priorities – Establish some goals for your trip and what you can live with (and what you can’t live without.)  If you want an exotic location, then you may have to settle for fewer days away from home.  For example, you might choose a four-day vacation to Hawaii as your only trip in three years over a week at a nearby resort each year.
     
  • Use A Travel Agent – To get an idea of what your dream honeymoon will cost, go to an agent or your AAA office.  They get specials on air/hotel packages due to high business volume.  If you’re still not convinced you’re getting the best deal, then go to some of the following travel sites to compare prices: 
     
  • Internet Savings – For the best rates on hotels, airfares, and car rentals, check out the prices at such sites as www.travelocity.com , www.cheaptickets.com, www.expedia.com, and www.orbitz.com.  After you get a price and before you book a fare, go directly to that airline’s Web site to check their cheapest fares. Some good hotel brokers that buy up a block of rooms and pass along the savings are www.quickbook.com and www.hotwire.com . Be sure and read the fine print of any offer so you understand the restrictions and limitations associated with a cheaper fare.
     
  • Travel Off-Season – By traveling during an off-peak time you’ll not only save money, you won’t fight the crowds either. According to Consumer Reports Travel Letter, the optimum time to get the best airline fares is October through early December and January through March. The fares are even better if you stay over a Saturday night.
     
  • A Strong Dollar Close to Home – If you live near Canada or Mexico, then your dollar will go a lot farther because of the weak local currencies in these areas. If you use a credit card for the majority of your purchases, then you usually will not pay a fee for converting your dollars into the foreign currency.

 

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