If you’ve been feeling the dating world is even more difficult to manage these days, you’re certainly not alone. Even if you get beyond the apps, the dinner bill can be a downer. Inflation isn’t just affecting those with homes, kids and cars. It’s affecting those trying to just meet someone.
And it’s causing some to change how they’re dating, like 27-year-old Tony Dong and his girlfriend.
“We’ve been together for two years. We usually travel a lot and eat out, especially during the post-COVID-19 reopening, when things were cheap,” said the Burnaby, B.C. native.
“Since the start of 2022 we’ve cut back on traveling to places… and focused on trips in British Columbia.”
A Bumble survey found that 28 per cent of users surveyed are consciously setting financial boundaries in their dating lives. Furthermore, 32 per cent would be less impressed by “over-the-top first dates.”
All this means that avoiding an expensive dinner on a first outing might not set you back as much as you think. Here are some cheap and unique date ideas, plus budgeting tips to help you afford multiple dates, if things go well.
Set financial goals before the meetup
It’s clear why many are shifting their scope on dating, given that a recent Statistics Canada poll found it’s costing about eight per cent more to go on dates than it did a year before. But it’s not all bad news.
This new shift has also caused many single Canadians to bring up money far earlier in a relationship, even though it’s often a taboo subject that can be a source of anxiety.
Before you start swiping to set up your weekend rendezvous, come up with a budget. Even better, decide how much you can afford to put toward dating and other recreational activities each month, and stick to it.
“I would say our relationship started with a lot of ‘revenge traveling,’” Dong said, referring to traveling after pandemic restrictions ended.
“Now we’re focusing on boosting emergency funds in our savings accounts.”
If you are worried about coming off as cheap, know that being good with budgeting can be seen as an attractive attribute. According to a recent survey by Western & Southern Financial Group, the biggest financial turn-off for Gen Z is a lack of financial literacy.
Since there is also less stigma about financial discussions, you can try to be more honest with your dates about your financial situation.
That doesn’t mean disclosing how much debt you have on a first date. One way to put a positive spin on your situation is by mentioning financial goals you’re trying to achieve, such as saving up for a degree or a house.
First date? Discover local entertainment
If you’re looking for a solid first date idea while still keeping cash in mind, finding a new local haunt is a great first stop. Especially if you manage to find a local musician. Rather than going to dinner and spending tons on a meal, you can put that money toward a drink or two. In many cases, you may even be able to skip a cover fee.
Another affordable idea is to skip the traditional expensive first dates, and find local restaurants to support, suggested Dong.
“We do eat out less at chain restaurants,” Dong said. “Local ones we’ve been able to explore, with cuisine from other cultures at reasonable prices. It’s also nice to support family-owned businesses over the usual ones.”
The only advice is to keep a budget in mind before the date. Go in with a plan on how much you want to spend on the evening, and stick to it. You can always check out the menu online so you know exactly what to order ahead of time.
Couple dates in? Find a market
Once that initial awkwardness of a first date has passed, you might be looking for more ways to spend time together. That can mean spending more money, but it doesn’t have to.
That’s where a local farmer’s or street market can be a great date spot. There’s almost always cheap food to find, samples to try, local entertainment, and of course just browsing. And luckily, you don’t have to spend a dime to get in.
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Going long-term? Keep being a local tourist
Many Canadians live in cities, and sure there’s plenty to do there. Being a local tourist is a great way to get to know your own city. However, exploring the towns around your city can be even more fun. This has been the go-to option for Dong, as he and his partner have quite the travel bug.
“Summer plans are local travel, maybe a road trip through the Okanagan or sunshine coast,” he said.
Whether you’re looking hyper-local for a nature path to try, or expanding your search to some cute nearby towns, the exploration will be the most fun part.
Before you know it, you’ll not only save some extra cash, but have plenty around for when inflation comes under control and your dating life can get back to normal. Or better still, you’ll have made new discoveries as a couple.
This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.
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