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How to Date While Keeping Your Budget Under Control

You’ve just met someone new, and you want to take them out for a night on the town. You obviously want to make a good impression, but money is a little tight – so what should you do? There are a lot of expenses we budget for, including how much we spend on gas, groceries, bills and recreation. Why not give yourself a dating budget, too? After all, if you do a drive-thru date, followed by Netflix marathon using your sister’s account, the chances of a second date are slim to none. Here are some tips on how to balance your love life and your checkbook.

The 50-20-30 Rule

This budgeting strategy has been tried and tested, and it makes its way around financial blogs for one reason – because it works! Find out how much your income is, total, and allocate 50% to recurring expenses like rent, mortgage, car payments and utilities, 20% to saving, and 30% to recreation. When you’re dating, the recreation fund is the one you pull from. To avoid over-spending, keep it to 10% tops, a third of your recreation budget, so you still have funds to have fun.

The 50-20-30 Rule is a great starting point and excellent framework you can build upon and adjust month to month as your needs fluctuate. That way, if you find yourself thinking, "Where can I find title loans near me?" when you come up short of your financial goals, you know where your budget problems are, and you're already on track to addressing them. This may help you spot trouble ahead in time to avoid relying on credit cards or title loans to see you through a tight spot. 

Going Out to Eat

When you’re starting a new relationship, it can be hard to gauge exactly what is and isn’t okay, and that can make going out for a bite feel like more trouble than it’s worth. But we all have to eat, so why not bring your date along? McDonald’s coupons and fish bowls at Benihana aren’t your only options; there’s a lot of choices in between. Set aside your date budget for the evening –  enough for an appetizer, entrée and a couple of drinks – and shoot for mid-range restaurants with comfortable prices with ample selections. For brownie points, keep an eye out for what your date orders. It might be something you could enjoy making together on a future date.

If money’s tight, you may want to ask your date if you can go Dutch – just be sure to let them know ahead of time. It wouldn’t be a welcome surprise if were sprung on you, but it’s a great way to set the tone early on and build a relationship based on equal partnership. If you initiate the date, though, make sure that you are prepared to pay the entire bill. Remember to tip your servers, especially if they did a good job taking care of you. Your date might not remember that it rained that night, or how good the food was, but chances are they’ll remember if you’re a lousy tipper, especially if they’ve worked in food service.

Catching a Flick 

Big budget blockbusters come out during the summer and the holiday season, so you might do well to save a movie date for these time of year; if you do, your biggest question will be which one to watch! If you’re a AAA member, you can find discounted movie tickets for AMC and Regal Cinemas at a discounted rate. Hard-core movie buffs with Costco memberships might also benefit from purchasing tickets in 4-packs or 10-packs – these could reduce individual ticket prices to as little as $9, instead of the $14+ at the box office.

Saving money at the movies comes down to choosing the right place and time. You might also do well to check out smaller theater chains or even the drive-in if these are options in your area. Moviefone and Fandango are helpful for finding theaters near you, as well as movie times and pricing if you aren’t sure where to go. And matinee showings are a great option for watching the same film you wanted to see on Friday night for much less. Theaters often provide matinee showings between 12 and 4 pm, as long as you and your date don’t mind catching a flick little earlier.  

Other Date Activities 

Not every concert or live theater ticket costs $100, so be sure to check out your local event calendar to see what’s going on in your area before you make plans with your date. Talk to them and see what you two might have in common so you can pick out some fun options to choose from. There are also plenty of free or inexpensive activities out there. You just have to know where you look. An aquarium, a beach day, the park – find out what interests your date and try to plan around them without breaking the budget. Just be sure to talk to your date before you make any decisions. After all, you don’t have to break the bank to make your date feel like a million bucks.