Family & Relationships People Are Spending More on Dating Than Ever Before—Here's How to Keep Costs Down
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After a year of Zoom-only dates, many of us are vaccinated and dating is back on—sort of. Except it may be costlier than ever. Online dating platformreleased a survey revealing that singles' spending habits have skyrocketed when it comes to first dates since the start of 2020. The report shows 75 percent of singles plan to spend more than $100 on a meal, and 55 percent of those who plan to travel to meet their new fling in person will spend between $500 and $999 on the trip. Love ain't cheap, y'all.
But just because singles are spreading the love (and their money) to wade back into the dating pool, that doesn't mean there aren't ways to keep your dating costs down. We've rounded up tips from dating and money experts on how not to break the bank over Tinder.
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Establish a dating budget.
Though having an established dating budget hasn't been as well promoted as, say, having a food budget or an entertainment budget, but if you're dating, you need one.
"It's understandable that people have gone 'gung-ho' after months of frustration being single during the lockdown," says Nikolina Jeric, co-founder of, a love and relationship site. Jeric says she's heard of people bringing expensive gifts to the first date as though being cooped up for a year has unleashed their need to spend.
The Dating.com survey found that 37 percent of singles plan to bring a gift—be it flowers or wine—on a date, and 20 percent of daters intend to send a gift the next day. "I think that even before the pandemic, people were unaware of the idea of a 'dating budget,'" says Jeric.
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Imani Francies, finance expert and insurance agent, agrees: Everyone should have a designated dating budget, she urges. Ideally, she adds, the budget shouldn't exceed 10 percent of your monthly income. So, for example, if you take home $8,500 per month, your dating expenses should stay below $850.
To make it easier, categorize your ideas for dates, such as eating out, movies, or seeing a show. Then allot a budget for each—especially if you're part of a couple that goes out frequently or splits the expenses.
Eric Resnick, a dating profile writer, online dating coach, and the owner of dating profile service, adds that you cut down that dating budget and actually save money (and countless first dates) if your profile is done well and represents who you are what you're looking for. You're less likely to kiss a lot of frogs if the people you're meeting are a good fit from the get-go.
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Default to "going Dutch."
The time-old tradition of splitting the bill in half, aka "going Dutch," does prove beneficial for both parties. But don't stress over who should pay—or clamor over every cent. At the end of a meal, both put your cards in the bill folder, and take turns alternating. Maybe one party paid for the last outing, so the other pays this time.
Or, if one partner makes more money and keeps insisting on paying in full, the other should make sure to at least offer occasionally, especially if you're going out a lot. According to the Dating.com survey, 45 percent of respondents feel indifferent about who pays—but think it should be the person who initiated the date.
Have a boilerplate first date.
Jeric advises always going for coffee first before committing to an entire meal or the equivalent. "Your first date should be quick, take no more than an hour, and serve just to make a quick assessment of your potential match," she says. Plus, coffee is inexpensive, and you may be planning to buy it that day anyway.
"Many people end up meeting in real life after months of chatting online just to find they are incompatible," Jeric adds. "So do yourself and your wallet a favor, and just call it a coffee date." This way, you can look for a match without overspending. (Nearly 65 percent of survey respondents said they plan to take their first date on an excursion or outdoor adventure, and of the 65 percent, 40 percent plan to spend more than $500. Don't be like the survey respondents.)
What Your Online Dating Profile Should Be Like?
Just creating an online profile and expecting like-minded people to contact you won’t do. When you visit an online dating site, you have to put in some effort to raise curiosity among others who will not mind replying to your message. Since many fake people also join online dating platforms, it makes sense to invest some time on how your profile looks like and should come across as a legitimate person’s profile who is trustable.
On the other hand, Resnick is not a fan of the coffee date. He advises his clients to skip overly typical first-date agendas such as coffee or cocktails, which he says can feel more like a job interview. Instead, Resnick suggests doing something together that doesn't cost much: Hit up a flea market or a farmer's market on a weekend morning, or meet at a gallery during lunch.
"My wife and I played mini-golf on our first date," Resnick adds. "The idea is that activity helps you get out of interview mode and lets you feel what it's like to be with the other person. That's a much better date than sitting across a table." What's more, it won't break the bank.
Francies agrees, adding that first-daters "can watch the sunset or sunrise with a picnic, volunteer together, browse at a bookstore, or even run errands together."
Looking for love comes at a price. But with a little budgeting and creative date ideas, you can make your dating dollar stretch further. By the way, 78 percent of those surveyed plan on paying for their date's car ride home after their plans wrap up.
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