The first date is a big deal.
You spend hours picking out the perfect outfit, figuring out how to style your hair and exchanging code words with your friends, in case the date is a disaster and you need rescuing, stat.
Chances are you’ve spent a lot of time and even more money preparing to impress the latest person to catch your eye.
Now time to play devil’s advocate.
Do you really need a new outfit when there are barely-worn clothes hanging in your closet? Is a stylish cut at your salon necessary when you’ve pinned more than 20 hair tutorials on your Pinterest board?
Probably not, but part of starting a new relationship is showing off the best, polished version of yourself. You know, dress to impress.
People tend to forget that dating often comes with a hefty price tag. Relationships can really take a toll on your wallet with date nights, anniversary gifts, birthday presents and the random just-because splurges to show that special someone how much you love them. Learn to use your credit card wisely during this period. You want to fall in love, not go into credit card debt.
Cheap Movie at Home
The first dinner date left stars in your eyes and butterflies in your stomach. Now you’ve planned a second date at the movie theater.
The price of a couple of tickets is about $20. Adding a bag of savory popcorn, candy and drinks could double the cost of your night out.
Toss in the price of a new outfit and haircut. Suddenly, your wallet is about $100 lighter.
Maybe it’s time to think of subscribing to Netflix. Its cheapest DVD service is under $5 a month. The monthly cost of streaming movies to your flat-screen is less than $10.
Your cable provider’s On Demand service offers movies for $5 or less.
Throw in some homemade popcorn and a couple of drinks, and you’ve got yourself a cheap, but intimate date.
Outdoor Fun is Free
An afternoon hike at the local park is free and healthy for you.
Pack a picnic lunch and a bottle of wine, and you’ve got yourself a romantic afternoon for under $20.
You can even sneak in an hour of exercise, if you’re up to it. Riding your bike or running on a trail is a fun way to get in shape while getting to know each other.
If you’re not into biking or running, then take a road trip to the local beach and spend a day in the sun. You enjoy the surf and your daily dose of Vitamin D.
Dinner: Your Place or Mine
It’s no secret that everyone enjoys being wined and dined. Who doesn’t love a night out with a nice bottle of wine and a good steak?
Well, my credit card isn’t too fond of a $45 sirloin, especially when I can buy two at the grocery store for half that price. The solution? Stay in and make dinner together. An added bonus – You’ll get to judge your date’s cooking skills for the future.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not throwing traditional dating under the bus. I’m just showing you creative ways to save money when it comes to dating.
Times have changed. Both partners can share dating expenses. Why not start out splitting costs, saving money and sticking to a budget? If you play your cards right, you may save enough to splurge on a vacation down the line.
You’ll thank me later.
Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it seven years ago, helping birth Debt.org into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering college and professional sports, which are the fantasy worlds of finance. His work has been published by the Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News, among others. His interest in sports has waned some, but his interest in never reaching for his wallet is as passionate as ever. Bill can be reached at email@example.com.