There’s a saying about distance and its ability to make the heart grow fonder.
But distance does a lot of other things, too. It makes you stronger. It forces you to test your limits. And, if you’re smart, it can make you better with money.
When I met Jack in the summer of 2009, we lived in cities that were an hour apart—something that we saw as more of an inconvenience than a deal breaker. At the time, he was working for a music startup in his hometown, and I was just starting my last year of college.
The following years brought a lot of life changes for me: I graduated college, moved back to my hometown, landed my first job, moved into my first apartment and began to navigate the waters of financial independence.
Jack couldn’t have been more supportive. He knew that living in my own place was a huge priority for me, and he never once pressured me to consider moving to his town. We were content with our long-distance relationship (LDR)—and the independence that it granted both of us.
From Living Together To Living Even Farther Apart
All of that began to change on February 14, 2012, when Jack resigned from his job and moved in with me. For the first time in our three-plus-year relationship, we lived not only in the same city, but also under the same roof. The transition from long-distance to no-distance pleasantly surprised both of us.
Before Jack and I lived together, I had a very structured budget. I knew exactly how much money I could afford to set aside for savings (and splurges) after my bills were paid each month. But soon after Jack moved in—while he was in mid job-hunt and taking on intermittent freelance work—it was clear that we both had to adjust our behaviors if we wanted to support us primarily on my income.
His habit of eating out three times a week came to a screeching halt. My clothing budget shrank to allow for just a few clearance or thrift store finds per season. We combined our modest income to pay for groceries, utilities and the occasional concert or dinner out with friends.
When we focused on separating our needs from our wants, it was enough to keep a roof over our head and food in the fridge … even if it was just peanut butter and jelly some weeks.
Of course, we also knew it was just temporary—since Jack wanted to stay in the music industry, his job search was focused on Nashville, Los Angeles and New York. When he got a job offer at a music startup in New York last November, “our” apartment became “my” apartment once more.