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How to Shop for Your Nerd This Valentine’s Day

Valentine EquationThe following is a guest post from Mrs. Luke1428…her very first post! Welcome her on board as she gives us some thoughts about nerds, free spirits and Valentine’s Day.

Hello out there, Luke1428 readers, this is Mrs. Luke1428.  Brian asked me to write a guest post for Valentine’s Day – I suspect he doesn’t know what to get me and is doing this for me to feed him ideas.  Stinker.

Are you familiar with the nerd and free spirit concept?  Basically, most couples have one nerd and one free spirit in the relationship. The free spirit loves to enjoy life to its fullest. The free spirit makes life worth living no matter the cost. The nerd is the one that makes sure there is enough money to make life worth living. The nerd is the budgeter. The nerd loves Excel. I freely admit — I am the nerd.  For the love of Pete, I enjoy reconciling bank statements and preparing tax returns. I. Am. A. Nerd.

So, you’re the free spirit and it is Valentine’s Day.  How do you show your nerd that you love them?  Well, here’s what NOT to do  –

Don’t spend unbudgeted money on your nerd.  I know this will be tempting for you, but it will just frustrate them because you are acting free spirit-y. Spending money this way on a nerd is showing love the way a free spirit wants to be shown love. Look, I will be honest. The budget is our security. If you are united with your spouse through the use of a budget, then that is the nerd’s guarantee that the free spirit won’t go out and buy something expensive on a whim. To us, that’s security because we know that we’ll have enough money to pay the bills and save. So, don’t go blowing a budget to buy us a gift. It makes us frustrated and anxious.

In fact, I’ll bet that it’s inversely proportional – the more money you spend on your nerd, the less likely it is that they will appreciate the gift.  We nerds like our budgets, and we like it when the budget is stuck to – even if we are the recipients.

So what do you do? If you want to show love to your nerd, you need to act like a nerd. Figure out what it is that stresses your nerd, and find a way to relieve that stress. It doesn’t always have to cost a lot of money. In fact, one of the best gifts I got from Brian was when he spent his monthly blow money on me. In our budget, we each get a certain amount of money that we can spend on whatever we want, and that month, he spent his blow money on me. That really meant a lot. Plus, he got me something that I had wanted, but I didn’t want to spend money on.

So, what do you all think?  Am I out there by myself in crazy-Excel land with my reconciled bank statements?  Any nerds want to weigh in on what would be a good Valentine’s Day gift?

(Of course, on Thursday, Brian will be filling in the other side of the equation – How to Shop for Your Free Spirit on Valentine’s Day.) 

Next Post: Valentine’s Day Shopping for Your Free Spirit – Balancing the Nerd Equation

Prior Post: Gambling on the Super Bowl – What I Didn’t Know




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  1. Bravo bravo bravisio!!!!!!

  2. I love making excel charts and graphs based on my finances. I guess I’m just a nerd at heart too!!

  3. My wife is defiantly the nerd, maybe not the excel nerd but she does all the budgeting in our house and online banking to boot. She takes on these challenges because like you said it gives her that sense of security. As far as a gift goes I got her something that will make her life less complicated and stressful.

    • Less complicated and stressful is always good. In fact, I turned down saving money because it would make my life more complicated. It was at a store where they offered me some card to keep up with points and then get a %age off after I got so many points. The me a few years ago would have jumped at that, but now, I just don’t want to deal with their stupid points even if it will save me money.

  4. It’s easy to overspend on your loved ones. I don’t have a hard time spending on my wife, but I’ll rarely buy myself something. So I suppose I’m kind of both people rolled into one. With my wife I’m the free spirit. With myself I’m more of a nerd.

    • I can see that — I remember that on the DISC profile I scored differently when I was at work (at the time, that was in front of a classroom) than I did at home, so I can see taking on different personalities in different situations.

  5. Welcome Mrs. Luke1428! I’m a nerd, of course. I don’t mind a free-spirit gift (which I define as something completely useless and fun) from my free-spirit husband as long as it isn’t too expensive. I think it’s good sometimes to lighten up and let go and exercise one’s weak, free spirit muscle!

  6. Wow! This has been some great interaction today. Thank you to all who read and made Kim feel so welcome on her first post. From my perspective she nailed the big issue to overcome when shopping for a nerd…sticking to the budget.

  7. Mackenzie Randompath says

    I would say I am the nerd and my husband is the free spirit. I am the more practical one and he is the dreamer. But we balance each other out 🙂

    • I like the balance — the nerd makes sure there’s enough money for life, and the free spirit makes sure that life is worth living.

  8. I had never heard of the nerd and free spirit phenomena among couples, but it makes a lot of sense. I guess I’m the nerd in the relationship since I’m the financial advisor and love numbers! It is stressful when your spouse spends more on a gift than we can afford. It takes away from the joy of receiving. For me – heartfelt gestures that happen consistently – not just one day of the year – mean more to me than an expensive gift. Although I have never been opposed to receiving anything sparkly, assuming we can afford it!

  9. You’ve described our marriage and gift-giving quandaries to a T. I, too, am more stressed than pleased by an expensive dinner out when special occasions roll around. We nerds want time and labor- install that light fixture or shampoo that carpet as a surprise, not as the result of begging. Take me shopping for something I would like, (and allow me some control over the price) and I’ll be happy to call something I might have bought anyway a guilt-free gift.

  10. Haha, oh nerds! My bf and I are both big nerds…he actually uses spreadsheets more than I do, but we’re both total dorks about finance (he does work in accounting after all and I blog about it). We kept it simple this year since we’re visiting WDW a few days after VDay…but we kept that within budget as much as possible!

    • Okay, I’m jealous that he works in accounting and you guys can go on vacation right after Valentine’s Day! I’m even working Saturdays until after April 15! 🙂

  11. John S @ Frugal Rules says

    Great post Kim! I am much the same and my wife is the free spirit. Thankfully after nearly 12 years of marriage we have learned this about each other and get things that each other will like. I love a good Excel spreadsheet, I even keep one for gift giving. 🙂

    • Excel is the solver of all problems. Seriously though, Brian and I have been married for 16 years, and we really just now feel within the last couple years that we’ve gotten a good groove on this.

  12. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says

    Great post, Kim! It’s always fun to meet the wives behind the hubbies. My hubby is frugal as it gets (sometimes to a fault). I was the free spirit for years, but am slowly transforming into a budgeting nerd now, so I get where you’re coming from. And you’re totally right about the gift-giving thing. Rick would freak out if I spent a bunch of money on him for Valentine’s Day. His perfect gift would be a delicious dinner at home, or some of my blow money toward our debt payoff. :-).

    • I think maybe sometimes it’s just when one spouse sees something from the other spouse’s point of view. Like when he gets me something that I really do like, not something that a stereotypical wife would like.

  13. I am a kindred spirit! I’m the nerd in our family – most of the time, but hubby splashes in and out of nerddom too at times

  14. My husband is a nerd and he likes books for his birthday, Christmas, etc!

    • OOh books that’s a good one too… I love books too. I’ve got an iPad and so I’ve been trying to read books on that, but really nothing beats the feel of a book in your hands.


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