How to Save Money on Your First Date and Not Look Cheap Doing It

by Guest Contributor · 17 comments

Contrary to what you hear on the Internet, women aren’t really looking for men who are willing to shell out huge sums of money on a date. Sure, it’s nice to get treated now and again, but most young women realize that the men they date are trying to make ends meet too. That means that with a little creativity, you can really impress even if money isn’t a big part of the equation.

Be Unique

Find out about your date in advance.

  • Ask mutual friends, if you can, to discover what kind of things interest her.
  • Plan a date around that topic. If your date likes football, a college game is more fun than a professional game at a fraction of the price.
  • Does your date like hiking? Pack a picnic and head out on a trail you researched in advance.

Consider seasonal activities for a first date.

  • Taking a hayride to pick pumpkins or apples in the fall is great fun.
  • Walking along flower-laden paths in spring is very romantic, and costs nothing.
  • Heading to a beach for a walk or dip and wrapping up the day with a lobster roll from a local snack hut is relaxing and enjoyable.

Remember, creativity shows your fun side and implies you planned a bit.

Eating Out

If you really want to go out for a meal, opt for lunch, not dinner. Yes, your date will realize that lunch is less expensive, but she isn’t likely to care. First dates are supposed to be less emotionally charged, and lunch is more casual than dinner.

Look online and try to purchase a gift card at a discount for the restaurant you intend to use. Many gift cards are available at half price, saving you a significant amount. Just bring cash for tips.

Consider Appearances

The absolute worst date I had was actually a second date. The fellow invited me to join him for lunch at a restaurant of his choice. When we sat down, he asked if I minded that he used a coupon. Of course, I didn’t. We all need to save money. What I didn’t anticipate was him pulling out a “buy one entrée, get a second entrée free” coupon and then expecting me to pay for my meal and the tip. He handed me cash for his soda and left the table immediately. I was stunned! There was no third date.

Frugality is a great thing, and in this economy, we all need to tighten our belts. But think about how your date will perceive your actions. A coupon or gift certificate is fine and shows you are planning ahead. Insisting on sharing a bill after you invite someone is tacky. Leaving them to pay without any notice will pretty much guarantee you will never see them again.

Focus on Your Company

No matter what activity you choose, remember you are there to learn more about the individual with you. Don’t gripe about slow service, tap your fingers or discuss work problems. Ask questions, listen intently and don’t over share. If your date perceives that you are truly interested in her, she will be much more receptive to a second date.

Dating is an activity that is fraught with enough emotional nuances without getting caught up in finances. Planning ahead for a fun and inexpensive first date makes good sense and will certainly impress the girl.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Pastor Jim Kibler January 16, 2010 at 7:19 am

Great read but it won’t work. Cheap is a attitude or what we call a poverty mentality and people (especially women) can see through it in a hurry.


Ron January 16, 2010 at 11:47 am

Sounds like your date had read Jeff Yeager’s book — The Ultimate Cheapskate. That coupon play is actually in there.

I haven’t had a first date in over 20 years, but I used to take girls I was interested in on a picnic and spend time just talking to them … about what they liked, not what I liked. One date in particular, I took my eventual wife to a river where a barge had been moored for about two years. We climbed up on it via a convenient tree and voila. A picnic was awaiting with a chilled bottle of wine, a plate of little fancy sandwiches I had prepared, a lit hurricane lamp, and some soft music all on a spread out blanket. We watched the tugboats going up and down the river and talked for hours. Thankfully, I had a roommate that was willing to help set this all up. Total cost was less than $15 (and most of that was wine).

Good times.


David January 16, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Hmmm interesting points, but Pastor Jim makes another good point that if you are too cheap women will see through it and think twice about dating you.


fred schmitt January 17, 2010 at 6:28 am

Hello – NEWS FLASH – It was not a ‘second date’ where the guy used a coupon for his free lunch, it was a scam – you got him a free lunch and all he had to do was pretend to listen to you while he ate off your dollar.

Be thankful it was only a lunch.


frugalscholar January 17, 2010 at 7:37 am

Honestly, as a long-time frugal girl, I always hated spendthrift dates. I knew I could never have a relationship with a guy like that. People who are over-indulgent with others are often more over-indulgent with themselves.

When I met my husband to be, we were both poor grad students. He would buy raspberry yogurt for me as a treat. I was so happy.

After 30plus years together, I have to say that financial compatibility is very important.


DC@dollarcommentary January 17, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Wow, first of all I have to say, that guy sounds like a real piece of work. I mean, I’m all for saving a buck or two, but come on man, show just a little consideration.


Sara January 17, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Oh don’t get me started. I’ve been on many dates where the guy was just plain cheap. It’s one thing to save money, but it’s entirely another thing all together when someone just tries to save money at your expense.

No thanks..


Allan @ Rich Money Habits January 18, 2010 at 8:05 am

Great article. Although I have not experienced using coupons for a date, I can see why it is never a good idea to have someone you invited for a date, pay for your dinner or lunch. Besides, fred is right. It’s a scam. :)


Cd Phi January 18, 2010 at 8:45 am

Can’t believe he stuck you with the bill. This is a cool article because it deals with finance and well…dating. I also like it when dates plan something interesting and because it’s different than the usual dinner and a movie which is nice . And it shows that he took the time out to plan something creative for me and that’s always appreciated.


Craig January 18, 2010 at 9:06 am

Its’ all about the idea and date, so have fun. If you go out, make it for drinks and appetizers, not a full dinner. It’s more casual and fun, should save a little bit of money. Or go for clever ideas. I recently took a date to a byob jazz bar she’s never been to before. Cover wasn’t expensive and had 2 bottles of wine at home already. Was a great date and didn’t spend a lot.


Robert January 18, 2010 at 3:21 pm

“The absolute worst date I had was actually a second date. The fellow invited me to join him for lunch at a restaurant of his choice. When we sat down, he asked if I minded that he used a coupon. Of course, I didn’t. We all need to save money. What I didn’t anticipate was him pulling out a “buy one entrée, get a second entrée free” coupon and then expecting me to pay for my meal and the tip. He handed me cash for his soda and left the table immediately. I was stunned. There was no third date.”



George January 19, 2010 at 1:17 pm

How about a romantic dinner at the apartment? It’s easier to make a move when the partner is already in the apartment.


SatichDash January 22, 2010 at 10:58 pm

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Victorino March 29, 2010 at 7:21 am

That’s right, being an advanced person is always an advantage. Planning your first date will keep you away from financial as well as emotional troubles. Make sure that everything is well- planned, prepared and reserved. Knowledge of the place and the price will be the light on your way to your first date.


Nellina February 5, 2011 at 9:20 am

I dated a guy who was rather cheap. For instance, we went out to dinner and he would only order soup. It was weird. I didn’t care, I ordered what I wanted. I think he grew tired of that so he invited me to a picnic at the beach. So I go to his house and he said, well, let’s go to the grocery store and we bought a sandwich and soda’s. Then we went to the beach and he pulled out this skanky blanket from his trunk. There was no thought to it, no plan, just trying to be cheap. No picnic basket with wine and cheese–just a deli sandwich, a coke and a dirty blanket. I refused to sit on, by the way. And for the record, I was making him beautiful dinners with wine and flowers–so he wasn’t paying for everything. I am well out of this one, for sure.


Jewelsmom February 5, 2011 at 10:49 am

My husband will only go to restaurants we have a buy-1-get-1-free coupon, even if it means driving an hour to get there. When we take another person [an adult], he would only order soup or a side salad off my meal and eat off my plate. Then he’ll ask for a doggy bag to pack up everyone’s leftovers, even the garnish, lemon in the drinks, butter pads, etc.. CHEAP doesn’t begin to describe his behavior. I try to plan our outings where we avoid mealtimes on the road or I pack a hearty snack to avoid embarrassment.

I should have seen the writing on the wall. Our first Valentine’s day he handed me a brown paper bag with a roll of Spree hard candies in it. He included the receipt.


Lawanna Vue January 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.


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