While some couples look back fondly on an idyllic honeymoon filled with white sand beaches, gently rolling waves and an endless flow of Champagne toasts, my husband, Ben, and I remember only one thing from our post-nuptial getaway:
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
We took our honeymoon as 21-year-old college students, young and broke, to a family timeshare in the Bahamas my new mother-in-law had lent us.
Aside from one celebratory “splurge” dinner where I feasted on fettuccini alfredo underneath the sputtering fan on the timeshare property, we literally brown-bagged our food for the entire trip. I bought us a loaf of bread, one jar each of peanut butter, a brandless jar of grape jelly, and a 2-liter of root beer to sustain us.
Every day, I packed us matching husband-and-wife PB&J sandwiches. And every day, we ate those cheap sandwiches happily, basking in the glow of our new marriage.
Looking back, I can only smile fondly at our PB&J honeymoon because it represented many of the financial values that would become foundational to our marriage.
Honeymoons are completely optional
It doesn’t matter what Pinterest boards or social media feeds or your friends say — whether you want to take a honeymoon or save the money for something else is a decision only you and your partner can make. It’s your marriage and your life now, so you get to decide how (and when!) to spend your hard-earned money. In our case, sure, we didn’t have the money, but we could have made the decision to finance the trip or put it all on credit cards. But who wants to start off their lives together in debt?
Your early decisions matter more than you think
Ben and I have now been married for 11 years. The decisions we made as newlyweds had a huge impact on where we are today. Had we not been frugal with the “little” things, like a budget honeymoon, never paying for cable and brown-bagging lunches at the beach and work, it would have taken us a lot longer to pay off debt, buy a house or start our own businesses. We might have never been able to achieve these financial milestones without making tradeoffs early on.
You build habits together
As partners, you will each come into marriage with your own financial backgrounds and beliefs, but the early decisions you make together lay a foundation that you will build on for the rest of your marriage. That’s not to say you have to have the absolute same financial philosophies all the time, but aligning yourselves on the big stuff early on can have a lasting impact.
Memories are made no matter how much you spend
Sometimes it feels like the more money we spend on something, the higher the pressure there is to have an above-and-beyond amazing time — and that’s just not always the way it works. I’ve learned that the less I expect to “enjoy” something, the more I end up enjoying it. Keeping financial strains out of the equation is one way to doing that.
Dreaming is fun — especially as a team
My husband and I still haven’t taken that dream honeymoon. But I’m not too upset about it. Dreaming about taking our second honeymoon someday (we have our sights set on Hawaii) gives us something to hold onto during challenging times, whether we’re slogging through kids’ stomach bugs or figuring out how to pay for an unexpected home repair. And anyway, we’ll probably appreciate relaxing on a beach as tired, run-down parents way more than we would have as naive 21-year-olds.