Tell Us Your Frugal Dating Stories

It can get expensive when you’re dating. Going out to a fancy restaurant, movie and overpriced bars for drinks afterwards can really do a number on your finances if you do it often.

Do you:

  • Really need to maintain an image of having plenty of money?
  • Always dress to the nines on a date when you normally dress to the sixes?
  • Think that women expect to be expensively wined and dined during courtship?
  • Think that someone who describes themselves as frugal with a dollar will take you on a sub par date?

Why would you spend a lot of money to impress a brand new acquaintance when you don’t even know if you have any chemistry together? You’re better off going to a more casual place to get to know each other. The type of person who is turned off by this is probably not right for you anyway.

Frugal dating is no longer frowned upon. Tell us your cheap date ideas:

Times have changed, and frugal dating is no longer frowned upon. In fact, it’s a great way to test whether your date would be financially compatible with you. There are plenty of inexpensive and creative dating activities that won’t hurt your wallet.

Remember the point of a date is to get to know someone, or spend time with someone special. And, going into debt to impress a date is not smart or sexy.

Some frugal dating ideas

Treating someone needn’t be expensive. Here are a few activities which are fun and cost less than two movie tickets.

  • Rather than going out for dinner and a movie, meet your date at a local coffee shop for a few hours of casual conversation.
  • Take advantage of free outdoor music festivals or plays.
  • Show off your cooking skills with a romantic dinner – go to the grocery store or farmers’ market together and buy a reasonably priced bottle of wine.
  • Instead of a fancy, high-priced restaurant, find a more low-key, smaller place – perhaps serving ethnic cuisine – that can be unique, budget friendly and have good quality food
  • Have a picnic at the beach or city park
  • Have a date night in. Share your favourite takeout then snuggle on the couch with some popcorn and watch a movie.
  • If you’re dying to check out an expensive new restaurant, meet there for a drink and split an appetizer at the bar. The dinner menu is always the priciest. But this way, you’ll get to sample the ambiance and the menu for a fraction of the cost, and if you like it, you can always go back when you want to splurge.
  • Go for a hike, run or bike ride.

I dare you to use a coupon on a first date

According to a survey done by Coupon Cabin a couple of years ago, nearly 20% of adults have used a coupon on a first date and received a positive reaction. Of the remaining respondents, 75% said they wouldn’t be offended if their date used a coupon to pay.

Before you whip out a coupon, though, gauge whether your date would be OK with it or not. If you think your date may be into couponing, crack a joke about the great deal you got on Groupon, present the coupon to the server, and carry on with your conversation. However, if you think your date might freak out, you can always sneak the coupon to the server enroute to the washroom.

You may also want to save your coupons until a little later on in the relationship.

Thrifty – not stingy

“I had two spring rolls and you had three, so maybe we should go 60/40 on the bill instead of 50/50.”

In university, I dated a guy who lived in the affluent Calgary community of Elbow Park. Between classes we met for coffee. I was a bit startled when he sat down at the table with two cups of coffee and said, “You owe me 10 cents for your coffee.” A turnoff, or what?

Final thoughts

I’m not saying that you should never splurge, especially when you have something to celebrate, and sometimes you want to get all fancy and dress up. But it is possible to have a good time without spending a lot of money or going into debt.

I was twenty when I got married, so I didn’t have a lot of years of dating experience. Being students we were frugal out of necessity. We got student tickets to concerts, tossed a football or Frisbee around in the park, or brought a cheap bottle of wine to a friend’s party and chipped in for pizza. We got to know each other and had fun as well. And isn’t that the whole point?

Now, tell me your frugal dating stories. What did you do?

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  1. Brent on August 3, 2016 at 11:28 am

    OK, I’ll bite. I used a Groupon on a first date for a restaurant I wanted to try. I’ll admit the place was fancy and though I wanted to impress my date I didn’t want to spend $200 on dinner for two. The coupon was for half-price entrees. I tried to be discreet about it but that was awkward when it came time to pay. Turned out my date didn’t care, she thought it was funny!

    Rich people stay rich by acting like they’re poor. Poor people stay poor by acting like they’re rich.

    • boomer on August 4, 2016 at 11:21 am

      That’s very true. Brent. I’m glad your date worked out. Are you still together?

    • Denis on August 6, 2016 at 9:14 am

      “Rich people stay rich by acting like they’re poor. Poor people stay poor by acting like they’re rich.”

      So true or in today’s vernacular “TruDat”.

  2. Shelley T on August 3, 2016 at 11:42 am

    I’m all for cheap dates once you get to know each other but a first date is not the time to pull out all your frugal tendencies.

    I met a guy for dinner once and everything was going great until he looked at the menu and I thought his eyes were going to bulge out of his head. All of a sudden he said he was full from having a late lunch and that he was just going to get a salad and water. Well now I would have felt super uncomfortable ordering a $9 glass of wine and $30 meal, so I just played along and got a coke and appy. Needless to say our date ended shortly after “dinner”, and I stopped off for some McDonalds fries on the way home 🙂

    • boomer on August 4, 2016 at 11:25 am

      @Shelley T: In my opinion, your date was in the wrong to try to impress you by taking you to an expensive place when he obviously couldn’t afford it. It made things awkward for both of you. But, how would you have felt if, for example, he said something like, “I heard about this new ( i.e.moderately priced) Thai restaurant that’s supposed to be really good. Would you like to try it out?”

  3. Dave Bober on August 3, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    We have been married for 46 years. When we were courting in the late 1960’s there was no extra money for dating so we did the picnic thing and I soon found out that she could fry up a mean skillet of fried spuds over a campfire. When I took off to a far away college for one year we wrote almost every day as postage was only a few cents. My part time job paid a dollar fifty an hour, so the telephone call was only once a week on Sunday evening, and a few precious minutes on the pay phone cost a whole dollar. Adjusted for inflation, phones were extremely expensive back then and eating out was a luxury, at least for us. So much for the ‘Good old Days’!

    • boomer on August 4, 2016 at 11:27 am

      What a sweet “happily ever after” story Dave. You wife obviously got a prize.

  4. Gary on August 4, 2016 at 9:05 am

    We’ve also been married 46 years. When we started dating I worked for BMO and made the grand salary of $3,000. per annum!!! Picnics in the park — which where free in those days — and the odd movie was about all I could afford. We remember those days very fondly as there didn’t seem to be very many responsibilities.

  5. boomer on August 4, 2016 at 11:29 am

    Hi Gary. Those were the days, eh? It seems to me that pizza and a movie were very cheap dates back then and so much more expensive now, relatively speaking. We’d have gone broke for sure.

  6. Denis Hache on August 6, 2016 at 9:18 am

    BYOB for me but a coupon on a first date is NOT very romantic IMO.

    I have a large wine cellar with wines that have appreciated greatly/aged well. I did bring the opened bottle to the resto as 1. corks are hard to open without breaking (for the poor server) and 2. I taste to make sure the wine is drinkable after decades of aging.

    Anyways it worked, together 5 years and engaged.

  7. Benzenec6h6 on August 24, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    On our second date my wife and I went to an $5/person Indian buffet, which was shortly thereafter closed by the health department. We then went for a sunset walk along the beach. We then went to a club before the cover charge kicked in. We split a bottle of water while dancing. Total was less than $20.

    We have been together more than 19 years.

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