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Ask a Bad Boy: How Much Should I Spend on My Significant Other?

Steve Santagati, of and author of the best-selling book The Manual, answers your burning questions when it comes to dating, love, and how men think. He's a veteran at giving street-smart, straight-to-the-point advice, so ladies, tell me, what do you want to ask Steve about men? This is your chance to get answers so don't hold back! Submit your questions here.

Since Christmas is here, Steve has some advice when it comes to holiday shopping for your significant other. Check out what he has to say below:

It's here, Christmas. After Christmas it will be his/her birthday or any number of "events" that require us to contemplate; "How much do I spend?" You don't want to seem cheap, but you don't want to make someone feel uncomfortable with your extravagance — like they will be expected to be equally generous. You want to show them you care — at least a little, but you want to be smart with your money, especially now. So here's your simple rule of thumb, broken down by economic status.

To see Steve's tips,

  1. If you're broke, spend $10 for every month you've been monogamously dating, or cook them something wonderful.
  2. If you're sort of middle of the road (they killed the middle class but you get my point) you can jack that to $15-$20 for each month you've been dating.
  3. If you're rich, then you can spend what ever you want. However, don't go crazy with the cash because it can make someone feel really uncomfortable (you know, like you think the relationship is further along than it really is). However, if you buy him/her a car and they don't flinch, you might have a gold digger on your hands.
  4. If you're married or have been in a long relationship, have a solid discussion on a dollar figure you can both live with.

The most important thing a person can do is to buy their lover something that shows you've been listening and shows you understand what they like. It doesn't have to be expensive. In the end, we all want to think someone adores us and is paying attention. Guys really need to get a grip on this because most are clueless as to what to get their woman. It would help if they started paying attention the day they met you because that information will prove invaluable later on.

Now, here's my personal philosophy. I don't feel pressured to buy anyone anything just because Hallmark is slapping me in the face while I'm drinking a Budweiser and trying to get through A Charlie Brown Christmas special. What I do is simple; all year long I'm open to buying something for friends or paramours, regardless of the date. If I'm in a music store and I see an album I know she'll like, I get it. If I'm getting my oil changed and I see a gift certificate, I get it for her. I try to think of things that will make someone's life easier or bring a smile to her face.

Steve will be back next Monday to offer up some New Year's Eve advice so be sure not to miss it!

Check out his Bad Girls Finish First tee shirts and, for individual attention, visit Steve at or email him at

Join The Conversation
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 8 years
I'm broke and I DONT have $120 to spend on my partner. I dont have $120 to spend on anything. So I think $10 for each month you've been together is a touch ridiculous. I figure it doesn't matter how much it costs as long as your partner loves it. If it doesn't break your hip pocket then even better! More money to pay the bills at the end of the month.
sunnyheart sunnyheart 8 years
I think the rule is more to help women not scare off a new boyfriend--for example, if you've only been with a guy for 3 months, spending a hundred dollars is too much!
GScott86 GScott86 8 years
I ignored my CC bill this month just to get her something. I hope I don't regret it.
glampop20 glampop20 8 years
My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost a year and a half now and we openly discuss how much we want to spend on each other for birthdays and holidays. This Christmas we agreed to $200 each, but I know we both went a little over. We are very open about stuff like this so it makes it so much easier.
klreynol klreynol 8 years
Muirnea, we're doing a $50 Christmas (and a $10 stocking) this year, too. By the math above, we'd each spend $270 on each other - yikes! As poor college kids (with bills, rent, food, and a dog) there's no way we'd be able to afford that.
omilawd omilawd 8 years
I didn't spend too much this year. It's just too hard, so I bought him something mid-priced I knew he'd get use out of.
jessie jessie 8 years
we don't have a limit. he actually buys anything/everything he wants pretty much. so i never get a chance to buy it. plus its not like i'm personally paying for..i don't work. he just presented me with a ipod nano yesterday. and he tells me i deserve more! :) i love my man!! :D
SusanTeufel SusanTeufel 8 years
My husband and I spent about 70-100 on each other. We don't have much money...but we both wanted to get each other something we both wanted. When we were dating, my husband spent a lot more on me than I did him, but I didn't have a job. So I made him gifts.
clareberrys clareberrys 8 years
We set a $200 limit this year but I think we both went over by 30 or 40 which is fine. We both try to get as much as we can for one another with that money while at the same getting things the other person will really appreciate/enjoy. We exchanged gifts last week and I can say that both of us did really well!!!! I love the economy being bad - everything was on sale!!! =)
mondaymoos mondaymoos 8 years
When I was married, I was always the big spender. Simple things make me happy: new cooking stuff (cookbooks, shyeah!), framed picture of us together, etc. Him.... $300 bullriding rope. *sigh* Spoiled that man rotten.
lawchick lawchick 8 years
My husband and I did $100 limits the last few years, when we were in a serious relationship and then married. We're not exchanging gifts this year (though I made sure the cats got him some books he wanted :))
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
:D I'm more glad now than ever that I don't have a boyfriend or husband to buy anything for. I don't get anything but hey! I'll just go shopping the day after Christmas and get giddy over a great bargain. :gift:
ohbaby7 ohbaby7 8 years
Uh I am broke, but if i went with that option I would be paying 200 dollars, which does not translate into my broke budget!!
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
One idea I used once was to give a small gift for Christmas that led up to a larger gift for a Happy New Year's gift. I still do that with my kids today. For example I gave him a nice belt for Christmas and the pants for New Year's. If he has a new office job, work clothes are a hot commodity. :)
Muirnea Muirnea 8 years
My bf and I set a $50 limit. Poor college students, lol. Yeah, I think most people really don't care how much the present cost if it shows you payed attention to what they like and that you actually care about them.
merie33 merie33 8 years
yeah, the $10 for every month thing really doesn't work so well...unless you've only been together 2 months! according to that, I'll be spending around $500...doesn't exactly fit into my "broke" budget. the bf and I are both horrifyingly broke this year, so we decided on not getting anything for each's not really about the gifts anyway, right?
Swen Swen 8 years
Uhh this math just doesn't work for me. I spent around $100 on him. I'm in college so I don't have a ton of money. According to this I should be spending more than $300 which I just can't do right now. I tend to spend more on birthdays.
princess_eab princess_eab 8 years
We have a special situation because we're in an overseas LDR. So we're splitting a really special New Year's trip as our gift to each other, and we're going to get some small souvenir for each other while we're there.
hope2be hope2be 8 years
My fiancee will probably be getting that RE Degeneration DVD I've been wanting. I've dropped enough hints, and he caught on in the past when I wanted something and dropped hints on it. I know if not that one, I'm getting it for my b'day. :D The most I've spent on an ex for a'll be around 300 bucks. Now my gifts are around 25-100 bucks. (But mostly now, it's 25 bucks area LOL--thanks to dwindling economy and tough time at jobs).
Spiderlove Spiderlove 8 years
Ugh. I once spent $1500 on an ex. (well, bf at the time, of course) I wish I could get that back. Lol. Such a waste.
lildorothyparker lildorothyparker 8 years
Oh she doesn't... she's a broke uni student. He has expensive taste so somehow that justifies it for her? I don't get it.
CYL CYL 8 years
dorthyparker...600?! WTF?! Honestly that is just nuts..I hope your friend has a lot of money to spare. Normally I think its the thought behind the gift that my bf thinks is cute. That I have been thinking about him and etc. For examples I got him a few things for his b-day and his favourite thing I got him was a scarf I spent hours hand knitting after choosing the softest baby alpaca wool (so it doesn't itch) I could find.
lildorothyparker lildorothyparker 8 years
I should send this to my friend... she spent over $600 on her boyfriend of 2 months. *rolls my eyes*
LoveSarah LoveSarah 8 years
melizzle - I love the idea of a $10 Christmas. You have to be really creative, and I know I would spend more time and thought on it than a more expensive gift!
melizzle melizzle 8 years
Hubby and I are doing a $10 Xmas this year... makes it interesting to see what we'll find each other.
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