Cheap Dates, Guest Post

GUEST POST: ‘Not so perky?’ Part one of my search for single perks

For the better part of a year I have been enjoying life as a swinging single, meeting loads of new people, and loving my life. Unfortunately my bank balance doesn’t feel the same.

Turns out, being single is EXPENSIVE.

I’m not just talking about the old adage that two can live almost as cheaply as one; I’m talking about the cost of socialising as a single (unless you spend your nights curled up on the couch with your cats eating tubs of sadsack from the freezer). There are costs before you even set foot outside the door. Then there is the expense of the dates themselves, and finally the price of getting home afterwards.

So how do we do swinging single and keep the house as well? Firstly, let’s look at grooming and meeting people:

  • Grooming

Looking your best does wonders for your self-esteem, but also as a single, you never know when you might bump into Mr/Ms Right Now… like at the supermarket in the condom aisle, or down by the river walking the dog (not a euphemism). Given that we are not all naturally blessed with flawless skin, just-blow-waved hair, perfect nails, and a hair-free body, singles can expect to pay a fair chunk of their weekly budget on dressing to impress. After all, we don’t have our long-standing lover waiting at home to cuddle us, warts and all, while we slob around in our favourite flannelette pyjamas.

Discount stores and wholesalers are good for picking up cheaper cosmetics, while schools like the Melbourne College of Hair & Beauty offer cheap rates so that their students can practice on general-public suckers like us. You can also offer to model for hairdressers and get yourself a cheap new do, or ask around among your social networks for anyone who might be able to offer you mate’s rates on hairdressing, waxing, manicures and pedicures. Someone will always know SOMEONE who is studying to be a hairdresser or beauty therapist. Invite them over for a meal, offer to pay for materials, and make a night of getting ‘girlified’.

When it comes to shopping for clothes, someone else’s old can easily be your new. Try shopping at recycled clothing stores, exchange unwanted clothes with friends, or check out clothes swaps (view mustbethrifty’s post on clothes swapping here).

Keeping fit is also important. I loathe gyms, so I try to walk everywhere and do toning exercises in my living room (much to the amusement of my housemates). This saves me money on transportation, as well as the cost of attending classes.

  • Meeting people

Now that you’re looking good, you want to start meeting people. Expect to pay around $60 plus drinks for a night of speed dating, plus a fee to join, browse and/or interact with people on most specialist dating sites, e.g. RSVP, eHarmony, Red Hot Pie, Adult Matchmaker. There are a number of free dating sites, like Oasis ActiveMatch or OkCupid, but you will find there are usually restrictions on or inducements to pay for special features like browsing (read: stalking) people’s profiles in private, or to sexify your profile beyond a few basic pics.

If you’re not into ‘dating sites’, special interest clubs, classes or meet-up groups are great ways to meet people. These cost money, but if you’re combining this with other life goals, you can minimise your outlay. The Salsa Foundation for instance offers free salsa lessons for beginners in the Melbourne CBD, and there are plenty of similar groups around town.

Social networking is another way to meet people for free. At the start of the year, I became active on Twitter; since then, I’ve attended ‘tweetups’ and met people with mutual interests at gigs, for lunch, to see movies, and more. I even scored a free manicure and pedicure from a tweet-up with a beauty therapist. It’s amazing what you reel in when you throw a line out into the ‘twitterverse’.

Next week, I’ll be offering suggestions for cheap dates while out and about, getting a better deal, as well as thrifty tips on gettin’ busy, and getting home again.

– RP

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