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Valentine’s Day Shopping For Your Free Spirit – Balancing the Nerd Equation

Spirit Horse

On Tuesday, Mrs. Luke 1428 did an awesome job in her first ever post on how to shop for the nerd in your family this Valentine’s Day. Today I would like to tackle the other side of the equation, which is shopping for the free spirit. That’s me!

Just to recap, the nerd is the person in the relationship who loves to stick by the numbers. Most typically, they are the ones planning the monthly budget and exacting control over when, where and how much money is spent each month. They get really frustrated when the budget is not followed and often get accused of being “too controlling” and not wanting to “have any fun”.

The free spirit is a spender looking for a place to happen. They don’t mind a budget but don’t see it as etched in stone. They will often spend money in the spur of the moment without consulting the nerd. They get really frustrated when they aren’t allowed to have any fun and are often accused of “not understanding” and “being too selfish.”

So, if you’re the nerd in the relationship, how do you shop this Valentine’s Day (or really any holiday, birthday, special occasion, etc.) for free spirits like me? Here are some tips:

1. Stretch the budget (a teensy-weensy bit) if you can. Beyond the actual purchase of a gift, stretching the budget a bit will do something far greater. It will show the free spirit that you are not a rigid budget-nazi. It will combat the image the free spirit has that you are a control freak. And you will score even greater points if you can sacrifice an area of the budget that is dear to you or use your own personal “blow money” when purchasing the item.

2. But don’t overspend. What? Isn’t the free spirit all about overspending? Won’t he or she appreciate the huge gift you uncharacteristically splurged on? Yes, but…you’ll make me feel guilty. Being the sensitive free spirit spouse I am, I’ve been sticking to a tight budget in my Valentine’s purchase so I won’t catch any flack from my “budget-nazi” nerd spouse. I spent $25 dollars on you thinking I was doing the right thing and you spent $250 on me. I will feel my gift is inadequate and will spend the next day searching for another gift to make up for my deficiency. By overspending in a surprise fashion on the free spirit, you also subtly reinforce the concept that it’s OK to splurge on a whim. That doesn’t help us in the long run.

3. Buy something the free spirit thinks you wouldn’t normally approve of. Recently Mrs. Luke1428 bought me a florescent yellow, long sleeve Nike running shirt to use on my before-dawn, cold morning runs. I had bought some cheaper alternatives in November because I knew the Nike ones were pricey and I might run the risk of getting a weird look when I walked in the house with it. Best part about this purchase was that she used her blow money on it. Way cool sacrifice on her part!

Visa Gift Card4. Visa gift cards. Listen…if you’re stuck for an idea, just get us a Visa gift card. That way we can use it on WHATEVER WE WANT! Now that’s freedom!




It’s your turn to chime in free spirits. Can you relate to any of these points? How do you want your significant other to shop for you this Valentine’s Day? How do you resolve money conflicts with your nerd spouse? 

Next Post: Stop Flirting – 20 Signs You Might be Ready to Get Serious About Money

Prior Post: How to Shop for Your Nerd This Valentine’s Day


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  1. Financial Black Sheep says

    I love you and your wife’s ideas for V-day. Mr. FBS and I are both nerds and free spirits. We can switch between the two easily. For us we made a rule early on for gifts like birthday, we are free to want whatever we choose, without budget guilt. As for V-day that is usually something we do and maybe a card within budget. Anniversary it’s definitely doing something fun and maybe something for the house, but somewhere around the budget. For special occasions we free-will it a lot and try to stick around the budget, but never stick directly to it, because then it wouldn’t be spontaneous enough for us. After all is said and done, then it’s back to the budget for both of us. 🙂

  2. LOL! That post is so funny. I think the gift card is a good idea. It gives the free spirit room to roam. 🙂

  3. Mackenzie Randompath says

    It’s good to go out of your comfort zone every once in awhile! My husband is the free spirit and I am the nerd and I think he would agree with everything you mentioned here! 🙂

  4. I really like #3. We can get caught up in good or bad with how we spend our money. It’s nice to do something a little unexpected and a teensy bit bad in the name of love.

  5. John S @ Frugal Rules says

    Good post! My wife is the free spirit of the two of us and #3 & #4 are big ones. If I do #3 I show that I am willing to be flexible for her and give her something she loves. #4 is good because I am then letting her go spend the money however she wants and LOVES it.

  6. I told the bf not to buy me anything and I’d do the same. There’s nothing either of us needs, so we’ll probably just go out to dinner somewhere and enjoy a nice bottle of wine. The time together is more important then a gift for us, and I’d much rather have the money we would have spent on gifts put into savings or towards our mortgage.

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