Last week, I talked about minimising grooming and meeting people costs related to our search for Mr/Ms Right now. By the time you’ve done all of that and managed to meet someone you’d actually like to date, what happens next?
- Out and about
In the modern dating game, you might go out on several dates with one or more people most weeks, depending on what you’re looking for. The people you are meeting will be doing likewise. If you’re like me and quite shy, you may find yourself relying on alcohol as a social lubricant, which can quickly make a hole in your budget if you’re not careful. Gone are the days where you can expect your date to pay (though it’s always nice when they offer), but the reality is, neither of you can afford to invest too much in the early stages (besides which, you probably don’t want to feel obligated to your date following a all-expenses paid date extravaganza – that way lies all kinds of awkward).
Some suggestions for saving money while dating include:
For the traditional out-for-dinner-and-drinks style date, try meeting at venues that have specials on during the week: most pubs in the inner suburbs will offer a $12 pot and parma (or similar), while Bimbo Deluxe is famous for serving cheap pizza. If mid-week dates are inconvenient, there’s Lentil as Anything which offers a buffet-style menu where you pay what you think the meal is worth.
How often do you find yourself leaving food on your plate when you eat out? Consider sharing a larger meal. One of my girlfriends and I do this quite regularly as a way to save cash. Neither of us can eat an entire large meal, but one between us is just the right size, and cheaper than buying two smaller meals. Or if you’re not comfortable suggesting that, try meeting a bit later for drinks, and eat dinner at home beforehand.
Something else that can be fun is having dinner at home. This way you save money on food and alcohol, buying at bottle shop or wine club prices rather than pub prices. It might be a little weird if you don’t know each other that well, but if there’s chemistry, you have the advantage of the bedroom being right next door (see Gettin’ busy ...And getting home again). I recently dated a full-time student, so to save cash, we would each bring ingredients found in our fridges and combine them to make a shared meal. It was fun because we would also cook together and exchange ideas for new dishes. Otherwise try an old fashioned bring-a-plate picnic during the warmer months.
For an entertainment-style date, lots of pubs offer live music for free or next-to-free. Combined with a pot-and-parma and a shared dessert, you can have yourself a cheap, fun night.
For something different, try an open mic night, or a night of storytelling. Check out venues like Dogs Bar in St Kilda or Willow Bar in Northcote to see what’s running on various nights of the week. Launches and openings can be good (and free) too. Check Only Melbourne, Inpress or Beat Magazine (or your local equivalent) for things that are happening around town.
Try a walking date, or if you don’t mind getting down and dirty, dumpster diving. An ex and I used to explore alleyways, abandoned warehouses, and cemeteries with their historic markers. Put on your tourist hat and see what there is to see. It can be a great way to really get to know someone, and the odd pash in a dark corner always spices things up.
Or if you’re more into the clubbing scene and don’t mind risking the occasional raid, try warehouse parties where you can get cheap drinks, have a bit of a boogie, and meet loads of interesting people for next to nothing. You are sure to share a crazy experience… but may have to pee in an alleyway.
- Gettin’ busy
Assuming things go well, you’ll be getting busy in no time.
Regular sexual health checks are always a good idea. No matter how careful you are, there are some things condoms can’t protect against. Sexual health clinics will bulk bill you for sexual health screenings and you can usually stock up on free condoms while you’re there. Check out the Melbourne Sexual Health Clinic for advice and referrals.
- …And getting home again
Meeting where there is public transport is a good, cheap option for getting back home after your date. This is easier when living closer to the city, but even in Boganburbia, the last train home is usually fairly busy. Choose a well-lit station to exit and if you’re too tipsy to drive home from the station, call a cab to take you the rest of the way. It’s certainly cheaper than paying the entire cab fare home. Another safety tip: fake call before you exit the train to make out like there is someone meeting you at the other end, and of course, text a friend the number of any cab you ride.
- Getting a better deal
USE COUPONS. For EVERYTHING. I am ridiculously bad at this. I have owned more than one ‘Entertainment Book’ and signed up with LivingSocial Melbourne which emails me daily specials on dining, beauty therapy, getaways and activities and more, and I almost never use them. If you are one of those people who is good with coupons (please tell me how to master this!) it is possible to incorporate the specials on offer into your single life with the fringe benefit of providing date ideas you haven’t even begun to think of.
Playing the dating game doesn’t have to be a huge financial drain if you’re smart about it. Think creative and thrifty and your date will probably also thank you for it.