Millennials often ask me how to be on the dating scene without going bankrupt. Figuring out how to date while on a restricted budget is certainly no joke.
The generation known as Millennials (ages 18-35) have a lot of things going for them: strong family ties, immense diversity, and a close relationship with technology. They also have the largest amount of school loan debt. This could attribute to the fact that they get married on average much later in life than their predecessors, and what you have is serious need for advice on budget dating.
Dating on a budget requires some skill and a set of standards. Don’t waste your time or money on people who won’t make it past one date. Set a budget that you can afford each month for dating, and realistically figure out how many dates that equates to each month. Make sure to add in gas money, babysitting costs, parking fees or other expenses. You never know what emergency expenses might come up.
Avoid quick hit dating i.e. meeting someone and going on a date in the same day. Use your screening skills and get a feel for this person via a few emails, texts, and maybe even phone calls before making the commitment to meet. Remember, email and phone calls are much cheaper than a night out on the town.
Once you have found someone worthy of meeting in person, schedule an introductory encounter. Throw out the dinner and movie nonsense. Meeting for coffee, smoothie, frozen yogurt, or cocktail are not only wise, but quite the norm. Figure out if you really like this person over a $5 cup of joe, versus trudging through a painful $50 meal with someone you may quickly realize is a nightmare.
And who said food and drink had to be involved in a first date anyway? Establish yourself as unique and choose a different setting for your first engagement. Here are a list of ways to spend time with someone new while saving your wallet from the horror of excessive dating:
-Check out a local swap meet together and give each other a goal, like finding the worst possible hat, or the most hideous lamp. It’s a fun way to see your date’s playful and creative side for almost no money.
-Meet at a bookstore and share with each other your favorite books, or research your perfect vacation spot. Bookstores usually have good spots to sit, chat and relax.
-In the winter, pick your favorite hill and go sledding. Pack a thermos of hot cocoa and some oatmeal raisin cookies and tailgate after your sledding adventure.
-Many museums have free nights (or a voluntary admission fee), or open house nights. Check your local museums and meet your new date at the museum.
-Meet them at a well-populated park, playground, boardwalk, or beach for an hour of people watching. Challenge each other to find the strangest outfit, hairdo, or facial expression. Bring popsicles or cotton candy to snack on.
-Have dogs? Meet at a dog park and let the pups run while the two of you connect. Bring some dog bones or treats.
Another key element is honesty. You don’t want to appear stingy or cheap, but you cannot pretend to be a big spender when you cannot afford it. After your date has earned your trust and seems like a keeper, let them know you are carefully monitoring your finances. The fact is if the other person can’t be respectful of your financial goals, they probably aren’t going to work out anyway. Plus, you want to have good money management skills and honest conversations about this subject because if you two do make it in the long-haul, you will need to deal with finances honestly and jointly.
All of this advice is applicable to women, too. The millennial generation displays more equality among women and men than any other preceding generation, and the days of men paying for dates have been thrown aside. Women too are required to budget in some time for love.
When dating on a budget, a person should show major potential if you are going to spend money on them. Do some low-cost or free activities for the “getting to know you” phase while you determine if this person is worth a larger contribution from your pocket.