Recently, I was chatting with a friend about the virtues of frugality and “living rich cheaply.” He responded, “it’s a lot easier for you to be frugal. You’re married. It’s expensive when you’re dating!” My friend has a point. I do remember those days as a single guy and it’s true that it isn’t easy being frugal when you’re dating…especially when you live in NYC. But, I think it’s still possible to do it frugally. Of course, I’m probably the last person you want to take dating advice from, so take it for what it’s worth. Or scroll down to the comments for input from people much more qualified in this area than I am!
According to Zoosk, a dating website, NYC is the most expensive city in the U.S when it comes to dating (costing $173.88), and Indianapolis is the cheapest city (costing $82.62). The cost of the date includes two movie tickets, two drinks, two cappuccinos, and dinner for two. According to Deutsche Bank’s “cheap date index,” a “cheap date” in NYC would cost $93, which includes McDonalds burgers, soft drinks, a movie, a few beers and a cab ride My friend likes to take his date to fancy restaurants to impress his date. I highly doubt that he’s taking them to McDonalds. I think many guys have this mindset. They feel the need to maintain an image and to show that they have money. However, I’ve come to realize that when you’re first getting to know someone, it makes little sense to spend a lot of money to “impress” her. You don’t know how the date will go and whether either of you guys have any chemistry. You’re better off going to a more casual, yet hip, place to get to know the person first. Furthermore, I think picking a fancy place can send the wrong message: that you’re trying too hard to impress her or buy her time. Here in NYC, even non-fancy restaurants can be pretty pricey. The type of person who is turned off by your selection of a less fancy restaurant might not be the right person for you anyway.
I think Thai restaurants are pretty affordable yet don’t give off the vibe of a cheap place. Alternatively, you might opt to meet up at a coffee shop instead. This way if you guys don’t hit it off, you won’t be stuck spending a whole meal together. In the “cheap date index,” it mentions movies as the go to activity for dates. However, I generally find movies make bad dates, especially when you’re first getting to know someone. You don’t get a chance to talk and to get to know that person when you’re sitting in a movie theater. Plus, movie tickets are expensive (about $15 per ticket and about $19 for 3-D movies, here in NYC).
Here are a few activities which are more fun and cost less than two movie tickets:
-Have a picnic
-go to a museum
-go for a walk/run/bike ride
-go to the beach
-show off your cooking skills and make dinner for her
More specifically, in NYC,
-take a free ferry ride to Governor’s Island and go biking
-Grab an oar and row a boat in Central Park or go kayaking on the Hudson River (it’s free!) There are the city parks which offer pedal boat, bike, paddle boat, and kayak rentals.
-Go for a walk on the Highline
-Be a kid again and ride the ferris wheel in Coney Island and then take a walk on the Boardwalk.
-In the winter time, grab your skates and go ice skating at Bryant Park
-I know I said no movies…but grab a picnic blanket and watch a movie on the lawn at Bryant Park
I understand that I’ve made the assumption that the guy is paying for the date. Maybe I’m kind of old school, but I still think that the guy should probably pay in the beginning. I also know that it’s possible to use coupons/groupons to save money, but I wouldn’t want to do that in the beginning either. Even if your date is a frugal gal, I think you should save your coupons until a little later on into the relationship. The most fun, enjoyable, memorable dates that I had with my wife didn’t cost a lot. I’m not saying that you should never spurge, just that it’s possible to have a good time without going broke.
What other tips do you have for those who are frugal and in the dating world? What other activities are fun but frugal?