MoneySmart: How to keep your love life from draining your bank account

In December, the man who is now my boyfriend took me out on our second date. We went ice skating at Mel Lastman Square — a small rink near North York Centre Station. We held hands, laughed, and talked as we skated around and around.

When our hands started to get cold, we walked south on Yonge and went to Wendy’s, my favourite fast food restaurant. We both had a burger and shared fries and a frosty. This is one of the best dates I have been on in a long time. It was romantic, we got to know each other better, and it cost a grand total of $10.32.

People are known to do some ridiculous things for love. Spending exorbitant amounts of money on their partner is unfortunately one of them.

Dating can be expensive. Dinner and a movie can rack up to over $50. Add drinks to the equation and you’re looking at close to $70. When you have a well-paying job, you can do this. But as a university student, you probably can’t afford to. So what’s a cash-strapped, love-hungry student to do? Go on less dates? Put your love life on the back burner? No way!

What you need to do is perfect the art of cheap dating. It involves spending as little money as possible on a date and still having an amazing time. It also requires that you factor in the money you spend on dating into your monthly budget. Just like you do for toiletries and transit, you need to have a limit on how much you are going to spend on your love life. And you need to stick to it. Forty to $50 a month should be more than enough.

Afraid your partner is going to call you cheap? Yeah, this is likely to happen. But since when is being cheap really a bad thing when you are a student? Personally, I find cheapness to be an attractive quality. Do what I do and wear the badge with pride.

I try to turn cheap dating into a game of sorts, where I compete with my boyfriend over who can plan the better date using the least amount of money. This has resulted in us coming up with a pretty amazing list of cheap date ideas. See the list below for some of them.

Cheap dating doesn’t mean you can’t ever buy your partner nice things. The whole point of saving on the small dates is so you can spend a little more money when it comes to big dates like Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and birthdays. So for Valentine’s Day this weekend, splurge a teeny bit on on your partner. Just be sure to rein yourself in once the day of love has come and gone.

Happy cheap dating!

Katie’s top five cheap date ideas

  1. Cook a meal together. Make it something simple, like pasta or chili. Put on some music and dance while your dinner simmers. Cost: $10
  2. Take a walk in the snow. Feel free to stop to make snow angels, throw a couple snowballs, and steal a few kisses. Cost: Free
  3. Play a board game. Show off your competitive side with a game of Guess Who? or Monopoly. Cost: Free
  4. Wander through a food market. Indulge in free samples, take in the culture, and people watch. Cost: Free
  5. Break a sweat. If you are both Ryerson students head to either the MAC or the RAC for a workout. If not, you can always challenge your partner to a squat and pushup contest at home. Cost: Free

Featured image by Evelyn Thompson