How Frugality Brought Us Together As A Couple

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Frugality is present in almost everything Mr. FAF and I do. In fact, it was what actually brought us together in the first place.

Today I will share with you the story of how Mr. FAF and I got together thanks to our frugality.

The beginning

Mr. FAF and I didn’t go through the traditional route of him asking me out on a date.

We stayed friends for about a year and a half before we became each other’s special half. And it all began with me wanting to save money.

Mr. FAF and I went to school in the same city four years ago. I then decided to head to Washington DC to start a new chapter of my life.

I wanted to learn how to drive before I left for the city. Having been born and raised in Vietnam, I didn’t know how to drive although I was 26.

I asked around to see if my friends knew of any good and reasonably priced driving schools that I could attend before going to DC.

A mutual friend of ours recommended Mr. FAF and said he would teach me how to drive for free.

I didn’t want to take advantage of Mr. FAF, but he eagerly agreed and volunteered to teach me without asking for compensation. I thought it wasn’t a bad deal and said yes.

I started my first driving lesson in Mr. FAF’s 14-year-old car. It was an old Toyota Corolla (1999 model) Mr. FAF had bought for $1,500.

The exterior paint was peeling off, showing the frame of the car. The interior of the car was falling apart and had to be held together with tape and paper clips (I’m not kidding).

I don’t remember how I felt about driving in such an unattractive car. But I think I was glad that at least someone offered me their precious vehicle to practice driving.

Mr. FAF told me he thought about getting a newer car since he couldn’t impress any girls with his aging Toyota. But he decided against it since it wasn’t in his budget. I guess sometimes it does cost guys money to impress a girl they like.

Getting to know each other

Up until that point, I had always thought of Mr. FAF as a friend and didn’t have much interest in talking with him. Plus, I was going through the biggest crisis of my life, so I wasn’t in the mood to discuss anything with anyone.

However, being stuck with Mr. FAF in the car for hours and not wanting to sound ungrateful, I started making small talk. We went from one topic to another: friends, family, career goals, politics, financial plans, money spending habits, etc.

I gradually realized that Mr. FAF and I had more in common than I had thought. We both cared deeply about our family and good friends. We were ambitious about our career goals and wanted to make an impact, not just lots of money.

And most importantly, we wanted to save money to be independent but were willing to support our family and help out our good friends when they were in need.

It dawned on me that Mr. FAF was in fact an interesting, intelligent, and kind man.

Showing gratitude

Though ecstatic that I didn’t have to drop $500 on driving school, I didn’t want to just thank Mr. FAF without returning his favor.

We practiced driving two to three times a week for about a month and a half. Sometimes it would take just the whole morning or afternoon to finish a lesson.

I was aware that Mr. FAF was devoting a lot of his valuable time to helping me. Every time after we practiced, I’d treat Mr. FAF to lunch or dinner depending on the time of the day.

After getting my driver’s licenses, I also gave Mr. FAF a $200 check and insisted that he cash it to accept my gratitude. I also consulted with my mom about the amount, and she said it was the right thing to do. I gave him a gift on his birthday as well, and he was touched.

Mr. FAF later confided in me that this whole experience helped him to get to know me better as a person: frugal yet generous when necessary.

Mr. FAF had given free driving lessons to his friends (both males and females) before, but no one had shown him the level of gratitude and generosity that I did.

I have to admit that at one point all the eating out was really hurting my bank account. It wasn’t cheap eating out 2-3 times a week for two people for more than a month, especially when I was saving up for the high costs of living in DC.

I offered to cook dinner for Mr. FAF a couple of times to cut costs. Mr. FAF was impressed with my cooking (?!) and said later on that those homemade meals reaffirmed his belief that I would be a good wife one day. Little did he know that he would be the main chef in the house after we got married (oops!).

I guess restaurant meals are great, but if you truly want to thank someone and show them your true self, cooking at home is not a bad choice either.


After I got my driver’s license, Mr. FAF and I embarked on a bumpy yet rewarding journey of a four-year long-distance marriage. We also have one of the most wonderful gifts life has given us: Baby FAF, our 2.5 year-old son.

Thinking back on the driving practice experience, I don’t think I saved a lot by picking Mr. FAF over the driving school. Although I didn’t have to pay Mr. FAF in any way, I don’t regret taking him out to lunch and dinner and giving him a $200 check. It was the right thing to do.

Saving money is good, but I just can’t sleep at night thinking I might be taking advantage of someone, especially if it’s a good person. It’s just not who I am or who I want to be.

The only thing I might have tried to do differently was cooking for him more at home. It could have saved me a lot of money, and I could still show Mr. FAF that I cared about him.

I sometimes jokingly tell Mr. FAF that I had to pay for his ‘free’ driving lessons with my single life. Mr. FAF then quips that I won a lottery with both a free driver’s license and a great husband by investing only in some restaurant meals and $200.

We just laugh together, thinking about the amazing things that frugality has enabled us to do throughout our lives, one of which is to live happily together as a family.


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34 thoughts on “How Frugality Brought Us Together As A Couple”

  • What a coincidence, I taught my wife how to drive in my beat up Corolla too. The difference was, I ended up paying for most of the meals after the driving lesson.

    It’s not that I don’t let my girlfriend (back then) pay for meals, it’s just that it was a gentleman gesture and a way for me to show her that I could take care of her.

    I feel that you can find out a lot about a person by knowing what that person is willing or not willing to do for you.

    • Ohh what a nice coincidence! That was so nice of you to pay for all the meals. I think almost every girl out there would be touched by that (and the driving lessons) hehe. How cute! 🙂

  • That is such a sweet story! It’s amazing when things come together like that. But I do think that many people underestimate what those little things mean to others. As a woman, knowing that my Hubs was close to his parents, responsible with his money, but more than happy to be generous when we dated, those are some of the big reasons he became my husband. (He is also handsome, smart, funny, and has a heart for Christ, which of course all were big factors too 🙂 ) But those little things done without thought, those are the things I noticed.
    Love hearing your story! Y’all seem like a great match!

    • Thank you, Ember! I love hearing stories of how other couples met and fell in love because it’s always different and so romantic. That’s why I decided to share mine 🙂

  • Such a cool story! I like how it all came together because of learning how to drive. I’m still blown away with the 4-year long-distance marriage though. Sounds like your values are very much in line and that should serve you two well in the future.

  • What a sweet story, I love that you two met through frugality and Mr. FAF being willing to help you out with the driving! When Mr. AR and I met, I remember really liking that he wasn’t big on the fancy dinner dates or anything (the opposite actually, he gets uncomfortable in super fancy places!). Instead, we spent time with friends or doing activities, which helped us to form our friendship and the foundation for our marriage in a much more realistic (and frugal!) way 🙂

    I actually have a draft article 1/2 done about our first date, so I’ll have to post that soon… while we weren’t taking driving lessons, we had a pretty hilarious time during our first outing!

    • I think I’d feel uncomfortable at a super fancy place too. I’d feel like I don’t dress well enough or worry that I’m doing something embarrassing. That sounds like an amazing post. I look forward to it! 🙂

  • That’s a classic story of frugal meets frugal! I love it! The best way to win the heart of a man is through his stomach, in my opinion. If you had any level of culinary skill or at least had a few dishes down, you were halfway to winning his heart.

    Long-distance relationships can sure test relationships in the beginning. I think, over time, you start to appreciate the freedom because the majority of relationships take a lot of work. Congrats!

    • I totally agree. I loved the freedom that came with our long-distance marriage. Now that we’re together as a family, I don’t have as much free time for myself anymore, but I love the fact that we can do a lot of things together! ^.^

  • What a cute story! It’s always those little things that turned into something bigger. I am glad that my girlfriend doesn’t care about what car I drive, and she cherishes the fact that my old car provided us with so much good memories.

  • Awe that’s a cute story of how you got together! That shows a lot of patience, teaching someone to drive! That will be a nice story to tell baby FAF when baby FAF turns 16 and learns to drive 🙂

    • Thank you, GYM! Yes, Mr. FAF has been saying he will teach Baby FAF how to get his future wife with free driving lessons. @_@

  • What a nice story!! Learning how to drive got you guys to know each other more and figured out that you two were the perfect match. This is something to tell Baby FAF when he gets older!!

    • Thank you, Sylvia! It definitely helped us understand each other better without worrying all the sparks and chemistry 😉

  • I think this is my favorite story with you guys. Its so sweet innocent and unique. Makes me and Jareds meeting each other story sound like a walk down the red light district lol!

    Mr. Faf is absolutely right though, you are amazing, frugal when need be but generous when needed too. Love your character, I can learn a thing or two 🙂 *smooch smooch* ??

  • I like Mr. FAF more with each blog post. He’s definitely a patient man too.

    My fond memories of teaching my wife how to drive include a lot of cuss words, ending up on the wrong side of the street etc. I think I speak for her when I say that we’re both thankful as well – that we survived (both the street and each other) 🙂

    • OMG hahaha I laughed so hard reading your comment. Mr. FAF was super nice and patient when we were practicing driving. He complimented me a lot on my driving skills until we got married lol.

    • I know! I never thought I’d ever even go on a date with Mr. FAF since I thought of him only as a friend. Life is so full of surprises! 😀

  • Very cute story, Ms. FAF! It made me reminisce about when I got my license because I paid extra so I didn’t have to wait until the school year started. That way I could get my license on my 16th birthday. It wasn’t the most frugal thing to do, but I was horrible with money when I was a kid!!

    • Thank you! I think it might not have been a bad decision after all to pay extra for a license. Sometimes it’s worth it to get things done early 😉

  • This was so sweet! I love how you two were able to get to know one another during your driving lessons. It was so interesting to hear how each of you fell in love with the other person from your respective perspectives.

  • My now husband and I bonded over saving money as well. I didn’t know him very well but he was a fellow student in a lab down the hall. We had gone on a group road trip to a conference because one of the other students’ lab would pay for the car rental (very grad school, I guess!) and we could pair the conference with a weekend in Florida. We stopped en route from the conference at a casino overnight. The other students were running around gambling but he and I had imposed $10 limits on ourselves individually. So, we ended up taking a walk together because we had both run out of money and started talking, and that’s how we started to get to know each other. He did also teach me how to drive a stick shift… but that was a whole different thing.

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