How I Saved $16,000 to Close the Distance LDR

Let’s be real, long distance relationships aren’t cheap. You need to plan for travel, where you’ll stay, and what you’re going to do with your partner for every meet up. 

We all know about that cost 🙄

On the other hand, I feel like no one talks about how much it cost to close the distance and starting a new life with your partner.

That’s why when we started saving money for closing the distance, it seemed unattainable.

Saving money was the ultimate relationship goal post and it felt farther away than the distance in our LDR.

So in money in October 2019 I start saving money and preparing my move out to Finland.

Life had an unexpected plan for us and I ended up moving to Finland a little sooner than we had planned in October 2020.

That gave me 12 months to save $16,000 before we could close the distance and start our new lives together in Finland. 

12 Ways to Save Money for Closing the Distance

Before I dive into how I did it there are a few things I want to say.

I had a full-time job as a physical therapist and lived by myself in an expensive area right outside of Washington DC.

You should know this just to give you more perspective on how I was able to save $16,000.  

These are the tips we used to help us prepare financially to close the distance and the costs we cut out to make our dream a reality. 

Talk About Money 

In our situation, I moved to Finland while Tuomas was finishing his Master’s Thesis.

In Finland, the government gives you a stipend for living benefits while you attend University. 

So he had some income.

When we talked about closing the distance we discussed what saving would look like for both of us.

We talked about the activities we wanted to do and were important for us.

For me, it was hanging out with friends at least once a month and for him, it was playing pool. 

It is important for you to have this conversation with your partner before you start creating a savings plan and start budgeting. 

Talking about money and how you spend your money currently gives you a better idea of what things are important to your partner socially. 

Saving money can be easy, you just need to plan things out. This will help prevent y’all from feeling any resentment towards each other. 

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Make a Savings Plan for the Cost of Living Together

Brittany from MakeSaveSpend says this about budgets; “If you want to get your finances in order and get out of debt, one simple rule is: set a budget.

Setting up a budget and planning for the cost of living will help you and your partner understand how you’ll need to get your finances in order. 

In order to meet my target of $10,000, I needed $725 towards savings every month. 

When it comes time for planning a budget, the usual recommendation is to save for up to 6 months of living expenses. 

I’d say if you can go extra then do it. The more you save money now is only going to benefit you in the long run.

There were times where I could’ve saved more, but instead, I bought a drone 🤦‍♀️

While planning your budget for moving be sure to include how much it will cost to travel. 

Think of things like how many suitcases you’ll need, cheaper flight options, and if you plan on shipping any of your stuff. 

I also included my own wedding expenses like my wedding dress and how much it would cost to go on our honeymoon together. 

Be sure to consider these expenses as well as other expenses for daily life in another country when you are planning your budget. 

You can find more budgeting tips from Brittany on MakeSaveSpend

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Talk About Possible Side Hustles 

After we talked about our monthly income, we started discussing extra ways we could both make money. 

We both wanted to find a way to make the extra cash for when we lived together.

Tuomas plays in a pool league, he goes to weekly tournaments and is able to make some cash that way. 

I was a private caregiver on the weekends. 

When we planned our side hustles we wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t interfere directly with our relationship. 

That’s why we planned the side hustles during times we already wouldn’t be talking to each other. 

We made sure to make use of that 7 hour time difference.

Photo by @thiszun (follow me on IG, FB) from Pexels

Live Well Below Your Means

I lived by myself in an apartment right outside of Washington DC. I wasn’t able to get out of my lease until 6 months before I left the country. 

Once I got out of my lease I moved to my friend’s basement as a way to save some extra money. 

I also did a lot more meal prepping during this time to help cut down on grocery costs and prevent me from eating out for lunch or dinner. 

Find ways where you can reduce your own cost of living, while your relationship is still in the distance phase. 

This will help you save extra money in the long run.

While planning for closing the distance Tuomas and I looked at different apartments we would want to live in. 

In the end, we chose to stay in his current apartment because it would be cheaper for us and the money we saved would last longer. 

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Stick With Your Budget

This is the area where so many people have a hard time with saving money.

You do all this work to make a budget, then after you fail once you don’t stick to it. 

It’s okay that you bought that coffee from Starbucks, I mean I bought a drone when I was supposed to be saving money 😅😆

I just went back to the budget after that.

Budgeting is something that you develop over time. You are not going to be good at it right away.

Give yourself some grace, closing the distance is a stressful process. Just account for those occasional splurges by putting them in your budget.

Like I said before, Tuomas and I both budgeted for our non-negotiable things.

You’ll find sticking to your overall budget easier when you include these things. 

Photo by olia danilevich from Pexels

Limit Spending on Gifts

The year we saved money for closing the distance was the year we didn’t do gifts for each other.

We didn’t buy each other anniversary presents or send any care packages to each other in the mail. 

It also helps that our love language isn’t gifts

If you find yourself freaking out about not being able to give your partner gifts then remember, gifts don’t have to be bought, they can be created as well. 

Instead of physical gifts, you could make your partner a virtual gift and send it to them. 

Then they can print it out and have that physical gift from you. 

If you want to send your partner a virtual card for free then you should try out Canva, here’s my referral link 

If gifts are something that is non-negotiable to y’all then make sure to include that in your savings budget.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Have Fewer and Cheaper Meet-Ups

Another way we saved money was by having a longer amount of time in between our meet-ups and by planning frugal dates during our meet-ups. 

It’s going to be hard to go for a longer period of time without seeing your partner.

That’s why it’s important to remind each other why you are saving money during this time.

You are saving money to prepare for your future together 🥰

Then when you do have meet-ups try to find all the free and cheap options, use this time to plan for your or your partner’s arrival. 

This is also a great time to bring extra stuff in your suitcase to leave at your partner’s home and selling furniture or stuff you won’t need for the move. 

The year before we closed the distance we were supposed to have one meet-up to make our wedding plans and for me to bring out some of my stuff sooner. 

Then the pandemic happened and we had to push everything back. I guess you can say it helped us to save extra money. 

Photo by Negative Space from Pexels

Sell and Donate Lots of Stuff

Before closing the distance I donated and sold a lot of my stuff.

I was able to get $3,300 from selling my care and all my furniture. 

I sold my furniture on Facebook Marketplace and sold my car to Carmax.

The stuff I couldn’t sell I donated it. 

This selling and donating process is going to happen throughout closing the distance.

There’ll be things you want to carry with you to where you move.

That’s when you’ll need to keep the cost of shipping in mind. 

If it’s something you want to bring with you for your new life really ask yourself is it worth the valuable space in your suitcase?

Create Saving Checkpoints 

This is the most enjoyable part of saving money, creating saving checkpoints to let me know that I was on track with my financial goals.

I could literally see all my hard work paying off 🤑

While saving money, Tuomas and I had our own financial goals to stay on track of.

He used a spreadsheet to track his savings whereas I used a chart to let me know I was where I needed to be. 

By creating a visual aid of your savings it helps to keep you both motivated with the financial aspect of closing the distance.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Main Purchases Were for the Move

This is what I had to tell myself every time I walked into Target.

Or anytime I saw a cute decoration for my apartment.

I had to ask myself “How does this help prepare me for the move” if it didn’t answer that question then I didn’t need it. 

This can also be a hazy area. 

You don’t need to get all new suitcases, backpacks, or other brand new gear to close the distance. 

Remember you’re trying to save money here.

Be sure to check out the local discount stores, thrift stores, or Amazon to find great deals on travel gear. 

I went to TJ Maxx and got my 2 large suitcases for less than $150 💁‍♀️

Again, the purchases y’all should be making during this time are purchases that will help you and your partner close the distance without added stress or worry. 

Cancel Your Subscriptions  

I should’ve done this one sooner, but I couldn’t say goodbye to my VRV/Crunchyroll subscription until I left the US.

I had canceled a lot of other subscriptions early one but I had to hang on to that one. Eventually, I canceled the month before I left.

Subscriptions take away from the stockpile of money you have been saving to close the distance. 

So do yourself and your wallet a favor and cancel them before you move and start your life with your partner.

Then when y’all are in a good spot financially, talk about picking them back up again. 

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels

See If Your Bank Offers Certificates 

Another thing I did to help me save money was putting some of my money into a certificate at my bank.

I wasn’t able to touch the certificate for a year.

During that year my money grew from interest and that money accounted for the remaining $2,700 towards my $16,000 total saved for closing the distance.

Check to see what options your bank may have, it could help you to save more money for you and your partner’s future together.

Are Y’all Financially Ready to Close the Distance?

Looking back I wished I would’ve given myself an extra few months to save money, but life had its own way of making plans for me.

If you can, you and your partner should try to start a closing the distance fund.

Even if you put $5 every now and then into the savings, it will add up over time and you’ll be happy that you started saving sooner. 

I am so excited that you and your partner are about to begin this next phase of your long distance relationship. 

Check Out These Other Great Posts On Closing the Distance 

7 Signs That You’re Ready to Close the Distance

5 Conversations You Have to Have Before Closing the Distance LDR

8 Hard Realities About Closing the Distance That No One Tells You

7 Ways to Get Rid of Nerves Before Closing the Distance

10 Frugal Dates to Have During Meet-Ups 

7 Ways to Practice Self Care When Closing the Distance