I haven’t been on a date in months, and I’m okay with that. At some point last year, I got tired of swiping strangers’ faces, and deleted the dating apps from my phone. Yes, I get lonely if I end up watching Netflix with my dog on a Saturday night, but there is one good thing about being single: it’s a lot less expensive than going on dates all the time.
When I’m dating someone for a while, my growing romantic feelings seem to correlate with a shrinking bank balance. One of my favorite things about being in a relationship is doing fun activities together, but going out to dinners, movies, and events costs money. I’m too much of a feminist to feel comfortable with a guy paying for me on a regular basis, so I usually pay my own way. (It’s okay if he pays once in awhile, because I’ll treat him to stuff, too.) Sharing experiences with someone you like is a wonderful thing—unless it has a negative effect on your finances. If you share my habit of focusing on short-term fun instead of saving for the future, here are some changes we can both make:
Find low-budget ways to celebrate.
People who remember important dates can end up end up with an infinite number of anniversaries to celebrate, from “the day we met” to “our first real date” to “the day we followed each other on Instagram.” No matter how much you love special occasions, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make them feel meaningful. For example, maybe you don’t need to visit a fancy restaurant on the two month anniversary of your first text conversation. (Or maybe you do! But if you decide to go all out that night, do something low-key for your next celebration.)
Make sure “our thing” is affordable.
After you’re in a relationship for a while, you start to develop routines. Maybe you start going out for brunch every Sunday at that place with the bottomless mimosas, or spending every Friday night taking a Lyft across town to your favorite bar. Be aware of the habits you’re creating as a couple, and if you realize you’re overspending on a regular basis, suggest a more affordable option.
Remember: You don’t have to do everything together.
If the person you’re dating has an expensive hobby—let’s say snowboarding—don’t feel pressured to hit the slopes with them every time they go, unless you love it just as much. There’s no point to spending money on special gear and clothes for a passion you don’t share. Instead, save that money, and spend your precious free time pursuing one of your own interests.
Plan ahead… way ahead.
Dating is fun, but what happens down the road if you and your significant other decide to stay together? Eventually, you might want to share an apartment or even buy a house. For that to work, you’ll both have to be financially responsible enough to pay the bills, including the rent (or mortgage). If you want to get married, and have a big wedding, that will be expensive, too. The next time you’re tempted to splurge on a surprise for your boyfriend or girlfriend, consider putting that money toward your dream future together instead. Think of it as a secret romantic gesture, because that’s exactly what it is.
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