Cheap Date Ideas

In seminary, the financial limitations mean that we need to find ways to be romantic on the cheap.

Zen Habits is a blog I enjoy.

(BTW, it’s good to occasionally read outside your ideological zone) Leo posts good cheap romance ideas from time to time.

Go here and get an fresh, inexpensive idea for romance this weekend.

4 Replies to “Cheap Date Ideas”

  1. I was searching for Daryl Eldridge and “stumbled” upon this website. Talk about a God-send. I would love to see some articles on “moving to seminary.” My wife and I will be bringing three of our four children to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the summer of 2009. We are leaving the oldest behind with his wife and by then our first grandchild. Basically we have nine months to plan this major life move as I finish undergrad work and work four days a week for my local church. What can you tell me to help me plan?

    Because of Christ,

  2. Hi Christopher,

    The biggest mistake that my husband and I made when we were moving to seminary in Dubuque, Iowa from Austin, Texas, was to not give ourselves enough time to pack everything up and move it from Texas. We, too, were both working full-time for a large presbyterian church, and if I recall correctly, only gave ourselves less than a week to pack up a 3-bedroom house and move it. Not a good idea! We ended up having to travel 18 hours back to Texas at Thanksgiving to pick up the rest of our stuff, which ended up being not so bad because we had to sign the papers to sell our house at that time, too, BUT it did cause us undue stress during the initial move. Anyway, give yourselves two weeks on both ends of the move–seriously–you’ll need it. Because when we got to Dubuque, then we had to jump right into seminary, and it was really stressful because we were both seminary students. We didn’t get everything unpacked until Christmas break.

    Another thing I did, which really helped, was to have a packing party. Invite everyone over at one time, provide a meal, and ask everyone to help pack boxes for a couple of hours–you’d be surprised what you can get done in that amount of time. Have boxes, labels, markers, tape, and packing materials at different stations in the house. You’d be surprised what a great job people will do packing your stuff up–probably better than I would have ever done! Not a thing broke on the 18-hour drive up.

    Also, do not assume that seminary housing is the cheapest and best way to go. Seminaries really promote their housing because it generates income for them. But, it isn’t always the cheapest compared to other similar houses in town. So, if you can, make a trip, check out rentals and make a deal. Even if it saves you a $100/month, it will be worth it long-term instead of using student loans for that amount of money.

  3. I’m a part-time seminarian and I’m struggling with a big financial issue – I’m really in need of some feedback:
    I’m married and we have two beautiful children(a 2-yr old and a 6-week-old). I’m also working 50 hours per week to support us as the sole bread-winner (my wife and I are very convicted about the importance of her being a stay-at-home mom). I’m enrolled in the M.Div. program at Gordon-Conwell Theological seminary in Charlotte, and I’ve completed six courses so far, out of the thirty required classes (loving every minute of it, gotta say). Here’s the crux of the problem I’m struggling with: between my demanding full-time work schedule, and taking classes and doing homework at night, my family is taking the brunt of it all. They’re taking quite a hit that shows in my lack of time spent with them. In fact, what I’ve really begun praying about these days is the prospect of raising support for our living expenses from donors. This way…

    1.) My family will have their husband and daddy back in the evenings.

    2.) My parents and church (who have committed to paying for my seminary education) will pay considerably less tuition overall, since the more classes taken together the cheaper it is per class. I could then take more than two classes per semester (a load I can barely manage now).

    3.) I could move at a faster pace to graduation and pursue what I truly am called to do with my life (and have for a long, long time) instead of being employed for another 5 years (at this point, my studies will take me another 5 years) in a full-time job that I don’t like and requires a tremendous amount from me.

    My annual gross income is $50k, so that is what I would need to raise… and I have no idea if that amount would be realistically possible. As an aside, my wife and I are also committed to not incurring any debt as a result of my seminary program (this has biblical roots as well as the fact that we’re already paying off some past debt.

    Any thoughts or input on this would be very much appreciated! I know this is not a novel issue – so I need some feedback from those who have gone before me and have a better idea of how this process works than I do, as well as seeking a knowledge base that I just don’t have.
    Thank you!

  4. Brad,

    You have posed what is likely a common question. Let me share a testimony of where we’re at and offer some ideas that you could try. I have a family of 4 and am taking about 24 hours per year (9 hours per semester and 1 j-term in the summer and winter). I have a part time job and a little family support that is grossing us around 32k per year. We share your conviction about the necessity of my wife staying at home and of staying out of debt. Before moving to seminary, I had a job where my gross compensation package was about $25k more so we have some experience at cutting corners.

    Step one, if you haven’t already done so, is to prepare a budget. Start by writing down every penny for a 1 month period and I mean every penny. $1 sodas at the gas station add up and you absolutely must know where your money is going. I use an Excel workbook with different spreadsheets that match the categories of my budget but I know people who use pen and paper too.

    After 30 days, sit down with your wife and analyze where every penny is going. Are you eating out too much? Try brown bagging lunches or pick up a new cookbook. When we figured out that my wife could make homemade chicken and dumplings for about $3 for all four of us, we stopped eating out almost completely! Is Starbucks adding up? Try buying a thermos and a travel mug which will have a return on investment of less than a week! I actually save my coffee in my thermos and reheat it each morning until its all gone. Waste not, want not! How much are you spending on communications? We downgraded our Internet and dumped our home phone line and saved about $65/month. How about buying generics? I’ll agree that Sam’s cola isn’t as good as Coke, but we saved by using Walmart diapers instead of Pampers. Shop your home/renter’s/auto insurance. If you’ve been with the same insurance company for 2 years or more, it is time to shop. It costs you nothing but a few phone calls and could save $100+ per month. Dump the car payment if you have one. Sell your car and find a buddy who knows cars and have him help you find a good used car. This only works if you are not upside down on your car and/or you have a little cash set aside to purchase another. Also, when looking for another car, think fuel mileage! If your renting and out of your lease, shop around. If you have a mortgage, consider refinancing. Clothes, especially kids’ clothes, can really add up. Buy used when you can or find someone in your church who doesn’t need their hand-me-downs. Be discerning on gifts. Gifts are probably one of the most common budget killers. When it comes time for Christmas or birthdays don’t worry about spending X amount on every parent, cousin, friend, etc. If you find a good gift for $10 or $5, great stop there! Especially, with our parents it has seemed ridiculous to spend $20-40 on something they don’t really need and probably don’t like. You can also use e-cards, scrap wrapping paper, or construction paper and crayons (when the kids help) to make your own cards and avoid the $4 per card at Hallmark.

    Use this analysis to form a budget and stick to it. Use cash envelopes if you have to. Based on the 30 day data collection of where you money went, you should have a pretty good idea of the budget categories you need.

    After you have found out where you money is going and analyzed how you might be able to save, consider if you really need to work full time. Maybe you can meet your financial needs (notice I said NEEDS) by working less. Maybe you can’t. If that is so, pray hard about what God is calling you to do because God has not called you to become more theologically trained at the expense of your family. If you cannot lead them well you will never lead God’s people well. Your interactions with your family is the barometer of your fitness for ministry.

    I don’t personally know of anyone raising support for living expenses while attending seminary, but I would guess some are doing it. I hope this helps you or someone else think about something that maybe you haven’t yet.

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