I have a confession to make: My entire beauty routine is comprised of tiny samples that may or may not be expired.
Almost all of my makeup comes from my aunt, who only shops at department store makeup counters. She always buys a small fortune in products—more than enough to get the “free gift”—and then she crams all of those free gifts into a bag that she eventually hands over to me.
I can’t afford department store makeup. I mean, I just literally scraped the bottom of a tube of lipstick with a Q-tip because I can’t buy another tube of it until payday. I’ve been known to purchase a loaf of bread with loose change. We have a history of working out payment arrangements with the power company. I use Christmas money to buy Christmas presents.
Needless to say, I know what it’s like to be on a budget.
Despite our constant lack of funds, my husband and I want and need to have date nights; if we slack off in that department, we start to bicker, and I eventually have to fight the urge to beat him with a frying pan. Reconnecting is vital to our marriage because we have three little cockblockers interrupting our conversations and our sexy time. However, the one thing that is always standing in our way is money—money to pay for the actual date and money to pay someone to prevent the children from playing with butcher knives while we are away.
So, what’s the solution? Omission of date night is not an option for us, so we’ve been forced to use our imagination to create ways to make it happen. And yeah, sometimes it sucks—but not as bad as sulking in opposite corners of the house, wishing that we could afford to go out.
1. Find religion.
You think church can’t be romantic? Wrong. Dumping the kids in the nursery and making a run for the pews is straight up hot when you haven’t been able to just sit and hold hands with your partner all week. Also, talking in church is frowned upon, which means no one is going to talk to us, which makes it pretty much perfect.
2. Not religious, but your extended family is? Splendid.
Time to con aunts or grandparents into taking the children to church, bright and early on Sunday morning! It’s for the children—and also so we can have Bloody Marys.
3. Netflix and homemade cocktails, combined with an early bedtime for the kids, is almost as good as going out.
We have easy access to a bathroom (no line!). We can drink as much as we want to without worrying about how we’ll get home, because we are already home! And the best part? I can wear slutty lingerie, or cruddy yoga pants, whichever.
It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s healthy. But we can’t forget to lock the door, unless we want to end up having to send the children to therapy on top of all the other things that we don’t have enough money to pay for.
5. Trade babysitting services with friends who have the same problem.
Or we can invite them over for pizza so the kids can destroy the house while the adults commiserate together. Misery loves company, or binds people together, or some shit. They’ll get it. People who are in a similar place in life will also understand why we’re going to McDonald’s and the grocery store for our date instead of to the symphony.
6. Run errands.
Date night doesn’t have to happen at night. My husband works an odd schedule, which means that sometimes he’s off work when the kids are in school. Running even the smallest, most mundane errands together can bring back memories of when we first started dating; we were so poor, but so in love. Kind of like we are now, but with a lot more tongue.
Spending low-key time together without the kids reminds me that we’re still the same people that we were, but better.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, because it never was.