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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