Today I have a guest post from Melissa at Sunburnt Saver. Melissa is fairly new to the PF blogosphere and I’m loving her blog so far!
The other day I was driving home, listening to an NPR segment on a Silicon Valley dating service, Linx – not your typical story about techies finding love online, but actually hiring a matchmaking-like service to set them up on dates. According to the segment, Linx charges members up to $100,000 to get them ready for dates: updating their wardrobe, hair, helping them practice for their dates, and setting them up with matches.
Not to criticize people who use Linx to find dates: dating is hard, and if you’re nervous about dating, that makes it even harder. However, I still could not believe it – $100,000 for dating! It got me thinking – dating really can be expensive. Luckily, guys and gals are both in the same boat – if you’re dating someone around your age, chances are you’re dating someone recently out of college or grad school, and maybe with some sort of debt. You’re both going to want fun, cheap dates that allow you to get to know each other.
Here are four date ideas, each one progressing from the last. This is a good strategy to use with one person – these dates are designed to keep dating fairly cheap, yet casual and fun, so you can get to know each other. I’ll give a running total of how much, approximately, it should all cost, for a total of less than $100 for four dates, a much cheaper price tag than the dating service charges.
As we all know by now, happy hours rule on date one. Since most guys want to pick up the tab on the first date, it goes for both genders to pick somewhere that’s fair and frugal. Happy hours are awesome because you’re usually getting together after work – a happy hour bite & drink shouldn’t be more than $25, including tip. You can even skip the appetizer, since you’ll be heading home to make something for dinner later. If you end up splitting the bill, you probably won’t spend more than $15.
Worst case scenario: You don’t hit it off, and you’ve lost an hour of gym time (and $15-25).
You’re still getting to know each other at this point: is he addicted to playing video games all day? Is her room covered in NSync or, worse, One Direction posters? You don’t know! But the best part about date two is, if you make it to date three, you probably won’t remember date two.
Date two is make it or break it: by the end of date two, you’ve spent at least 2 hours together, probably more. If there’s a date three, that means you’re willing to spend some time with this person. Verdict? Happy hour at a different location.
Worst case scenario? You don’t see a date three in the future, and you’re now out a total of $30-50. Silver lining: you hopefully got to try out a new happy hour place.
Woohoo, you made it to date 3! Someone likes you… or at least likes you enough to want to spend more time with you! This is the time to see your date out of the happy hour scene – think a picnic (if the weather is nice), mini-golf, hiking, or biking. Something relaxed, fun, and fairly cheap.
Worst case scenario: You find out you’re not into the same things, and that’s a deal-breaker. If you did the picnic or mini-golf route, you could be out another $10-20, for a total of $40-70.
Now is the time I get to set you free! If you succeed on date four, you and your partner/boyfriend/girlfriend/SO/main chick/whatever you call each other are on your own for future dates. But before we get there: what should date four be? Now’s your time to make a move – meet for brunch, coffee & pastries, or go to a farmer’s market and bring home food to make. Brunch is typically cheap – about $10 for a meal and a coffee. Coffee shops and pastries are even cheaper, and of course, if you both like to cook, you could make a huge meal for the same amount you spend out at brunch.
Worst case scenario: You made it to date four but just weren’t feeling it. If you went out for brunch, you may be out $12-25 depending on if you paid for yourself or both. Total: $52-95.
While you won’t get the type of service Linx provides, in terms of getting you cleaned up, practiced, and matched with a good date, you can still budget for a fun (and hopefully successful!) dating game plan for less than $100.
What do you typically do for first dates and beyond? Do you have a ‘dating’ budget, and how do you try to stick to that budget?
Melissa blogs at Sunburnt Saver about personal finance, with an emphasis on saving, for young adults. With a background in finance and budget, Melissa is passionate about using her skills to help other young adults make smart money choices. Join Melissa on her journey to avoid debt (and sunburns) and navigate life after college! Read more at www.sunburntsaver.com.