Here’s How to Have An Amazing Yet Cheap First Date

L Bee Note: The following guest post is from Martin of Studenomics. Today, Martin launches his book Next Round's On Me, the only personal finance book that discusses FOMO, YOLO, rental properties, and credit without putting you to sleep.

“Should we split the bill?”

My friend was torn on this. This dude asked me for advice on a first date because he was somewhere in between frugal and broke. He also wanted to have a positive result from the date. Since I'm very involved in the finance and dating scene, I wanted to help this guy out. The only problem was that I knew how cheap/broke/poor he was. He didn't have much to work with when it came to money.

Being cheap might be charming with your current group of friends, but your next date won't exactly be drooling over you. You can't expect a second date when you have a horrible first date. Chances are that you either want love, someone to spend the night with, or just want to have a fun first meeting. I get that and feel for you if you're broke or frugal.

Money seems to get in the way of everything in your 20s.

This leads to an important question…

How can you have a cheap first date when you're broke and want to have a good time?

Never ever go to a restaurant.

Please never do this!

There's no benefit to going to a restaurant on the first date. Don't even try to. Avoid this idea at all costs.

Here are some of the negatives that I could instantly think of a restaurant first date:

  • It's expensive.
  • You're going to be stressing about the bill.
  • You're going to scan for the cheapest item and then feel guilty when you eat it.
  • You have to make awkward small talk.
  • There's not much going on.
  • You're going to constantly be thinking about the cost as you eat.
  • You have to figure out if you're going to attempt splitting the bar or if you're going to fork over the full cost.

You get the point? Avoid the restaurant. This comes from years of experience.

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Want a cheap first date?  Try an anti-date.

It's 2017 and dating has changed totally. These days people meet on social media, dating apps, and through friends. You don't have to go on a formal date.

What's an anti-date? The opposite of a formal date. These rock because there's no pressure. It's fun and easy going. These got me through my lean times.

A couple examples of an anti-date are:

  • Go to the gym.
  • Go for ice cream at the new shop in town. Hype it up in advance so that she's excited.
  • Do something that's very casual.
  • Meet up to run errands together.
  • Go to the mall.
  • Go somewhere free (concert or park).
  • Invite the person to hang out with your friends.

The anti-date will help alleviate your social anxiety and financial stress. The trick is to do something together that isn't formal and won't cost you much money.

Let your intentions be known.

What are your expectations? What are you looking for? Let this be known. There's nothing worse than two folks being on a different page.

Depending on the stage of your life and your level of experience, you're going to view dates differently.

I once offered a young lady to meet up for a movie. She invited me over. She let her intentions be known from the start.

Find someone with similar interests.

“I don't think I can afford it.”

Well, then, don't bother. That was my advice to a friend who was taking out a girl. She had expensive taste and he couldn't afford it.

Why waste your time? Why spend money you don't have?

If you want to court someone whom you can't afford, don't bother unless they're down to Earth. This young lady wasn't.

The Notebook isn't real life.

Be a person with multiple interests.

I find that the more I have going on in my life, the more dates I go on and young ladies I meet.

Since you're broke or frugal, chances are that you don't spend much money on your social life. I'm also going to assume that you try to stay busy because being broke doesn't mean that you have to be relegated to sitting in your room.

You can't be desperate to meet someone. You have to live your life. When you're having fun, the right person will enter when you least expect it and sweep you off your feet.

I want to see you stay in the dating game even when you're broke. One day you're going to have money and then you can spoil that special person. For now, you have to find someone who loves you for who you are, or at least can put up with your level of broke.

Here are some tips, tricks, and ideas for how to have a cheap first date when you're broke or just looking to save some extra cash.

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  • Christine
    June 9, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Active dates are always fun – hiking, biking, tossing a frisbee, etc. You can still have a conversation without staring at each other the entire time and awkward silences aren’t as awkward.

  • Credit Advisors
    June 4, 2015 at 9:53 am

    Great ideas for anti dates! They are applicable, realistic & just make sense. Going out to eat on a first date does seem insane. It’s both socially ( scared to eat, reaching for conversation, the pressure’s on because you’re in public) & financially who’ s gonna pay, do I have enough $?) awkward. Great site, I will stick around awhile! Nichole

  • Kurt
    May 29, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Though it wasn’t exactly cheap (as it turned out), one of my favorite first dates was taking a young woman to the local thoroughbred track. Costs a bit to get in, but if you keep your betting under control and perhaps even get lucky, it can be a lot of fun on a nice day.

    For a low cost date, I like hiking, cycling, or a short day trip somewhere cool.

  • Lauren L
    May 29, 2015 at 9:25 am

    My favorite is the coffee date. My current boyfriend of almost four years and I had that as our first date after meeting online. There’s no time constraints so you can end the date earlier, (or much much later in the case of my 15 hour date!) It’s inexpensive, and it’s mobile! We were able to go do something else if we felt like it.

  • Heather @ simplysave
    May 29, 2015 at 8:04 am

    I love the idea of an anti-date, and like you said, if you can’t afford it, it likely isn’t the right match. Biking and maybe stopping for ice cream would be my ideal anti-date!

  • Kyle Bumpus
    May 15, 2015 at 10:16 am

    I always used to make the girl pay for first dates. Worked like a charm in that I didn’t have to worry about having to pay for expensive second dates.

    • Martin
      May 19, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      LOL! Awesome. Missed you at FinCon last year Kyle.

  • Stefanie @ brokeandbeau
    May 13, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    I’m with you on keeping it casual. An expensive first date seems weird to me- I don’t even know if I like you yet.

    • Martin
      May 13, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      Amen Stefanie. That’s a good point. You don’t know if you like her. She doesn’t know if she likes you. Why go on an expensive and formal date so soon?

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