Love & Money: All that money you spend on bad dates every year could pay one month’s rent
Los Angeles-based Holly Shaftel, 29, has been dating her boyfriend for four years. Early on in the relationship, the duo rarely spent more than $ 50 a week on dates. When they decided to go steady, they also decided to do something that’s far more common among married couples.
They decided to budget.
“We weren’t into fancy pants places,” says Shaftel, who works as a science editor at NASA. “We started with $ 30 to $ 40 dinners once or twice a month. Then we discovered we were both into physical activities and the great outdoors, so that started to make things cheaper.”
Americans are spending an average of $ 1,596 a year on their dating lives.
They started racking up free activities like playing tennis in the park, slacklining, hiking or spending a frugal $ 12 at the batting cages. One rare splurge included a dinner at Red Lobster for around $ 60.
The first six months into their relationship, Shaftel’s partner lost his job, so she agreed to pay the majority their dates until he found work again. After all, if they were married, she would do the same for him, and he for her if the tables were turned. “He has a full-time job now and pays about half for food and fun, sometimes more, sometimes less,” she says.
Americans are spending an average of $ 1,596 a year on their dating lives including bar tabs, dating sites, dinner and grooming expenses like getting a manicure or a new outfit, according to the most recent data from dating site Match.com IAC, +4.72% That’s more than the median monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment.
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Dating coaches don’t recommend spending more than $ 50 on a first date, especially if it’s a blind date and you hardly know the person. “Dating is a long haul. Don’t expect it to go on five dates and then you’re going to be done kissing frogs,” says Chicago-based dating coach Bela Gandhi.
“First dates should be short and sweet — no more than two hours long max,” she says. “Don’t make it epic — a drink and an appetizer is fine. Go for a walk, grab a cup of coffee. Get creative without breaking the bank.”
Many people don’t take that advice. In fact, the cost of the average first date is $ 75, and the average person spends $ 56 on dates that follow, according to data MarketWatch obtained from The Meet Group, the company behind mobile dating apps like LOVOO. Men reported that they pay 80% of the time on first dates, though women said that men pay 58% of the time on first dates.
The cost of the average first date is $ 75, and the rest cost $ 56 on average.
It’s not uncommon for people to split the tab while dating: 22% of singles said they split the bill on first dates, and half of dating app users, meanwhile, reported that they share the cost of dating on subsequent dates, according to data from The Meet Group.
Others make their first dates a night to remember. When Newport, Rhode Island native Dustyn Ferguson, 21, planned a first date for his now girlfriend of two years he met on a dating app, he made it a culinary destination date.
They started off with appetizers at a local Mexican restaurant, had a main course at an Italian eatery and finished off the evening with ice cream at a local scoop shop before seeing a movie. The total cost of that date: $ 130. “I was trying to be unique,” Ferguson says. “In this instance, I didn’t budget anything.”
Ferguson, a finance blogger, picked up the tab on the first date, but says he’s not opposed to splitting costs with his partner. They don’t have any hard and fast rules. “It’s go with the flow. Don’t fight it or make a scene,” he says.
Today, he says he spends around $ 50 to $ 150 per week on dating. “We still go to restaurants, movies and the occasional trampoline park,” he says. But he now seeks out happy hour and menu specials like “Taco Tuesdays” that don’t break the bank.