Dating and the Single Person: How to Save Money

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They say that money makes the world go ’round. They also say that love makes the world go ’round. Perhaps it’s a bit of both. When you’re single and in dating mode, sometimes it seems like you don’t have enough of either. But don’t despair…I made it through some rough single times, and I’ll bet you can, too. It’s just a matter of knowing how to manage your money, and your expectations, while dating.

When you're single and dating, it can be difficult to meet the right person, and even more difficult to save money while doing it.

Money can be a very contentious issue when you’re working on finding or being in a relationship, and it can also be one of the main causes for a relationship breakup too. It happens when there are real disparities that the parties have in their money attitudes. Ask people like me who have been through a divorce and you will probably get an earful about it.

The Money “Switch”

When we first start out and enter a relationship, our money sense inside us is pretty much switched off. We seem to have the ability to think of everything and anything else and put money on the backburner. We let our endorphins kick in and that’s a good thing, to a degree.

Can you recall making extravagant gestures like dining out in fancy restaurants, giving bouquets of flowers, and enjoying getaway weekends in a luxury resort with a new special relationship? That’s all great until the credit card bill hits your mailbox and that’s when the quieted money sense is awakened from its deep sleep and erupts like a volcano in full fire and fury! But having said that, almost all of us will be out looking for that next great relationship experience and eventually (if you make a real attempt at that) you will find a new budding romance. That’s what eventually happened to me and probably to almost all of you too.

My Reservations About Online Dating

Back in the 1990’s, there was a stigma about meeting people on internet dating sites. A lot of us were afraid to try it and felt like it might even be dangerous. These days, with the rise of social networking, it’s more a way of life and accepted. Outside of the regular dating sites, one could argue that adding a friend on Facebook is grounds for online dating—especially if you’re like most and friend adding is as important as getting someone’s phone number. But it was 1998 and things were different.

At first, I had a hard time deciding to join a dating site, and I had my own good reasons for not doing it. First of all, I didn’t want to admit I might need extra help to meet someone. I was afraid signing up for a dating site was an admission that I could not meet and attract anyone on my own.

Secondly, I wanted a storybook meeting and relationship like the one that happened to me back in college. The mechanical world of online dating doesn’t allow for that kind of thing. Could that story happen again?

Finally, even though people are on a site to date, what are their ultimate intentions? Are most people on dating sites looking for something serious like marriage? I wasn’t sure how serious I should be or they would be either.

How I Met My Wife

Briefly, I had a very routine dating life as a teenager and didn’t really have to deal with money and relationships until I met the person I wanted to be with “forever” while a student away at college. We met in the old fashioned way: standing in line in the school dining room. Well, flash forward 28 years: two kids and about a million dollars of expenses later, divorce reared its ugly head and I was alone, bruised badly financially and depressed.

For a number of years I tried a whole lot of free dating sites searching for a person I could really relate with, and although I had a couple of good starts over my 8-year search, no one was quite “the one” and at some point I planned on just resigning myself that it wasn’t ever going to happen. I decided that I would find a new job and relocate to Florida.

But then I met Suzanne online and well frankly, bells and whistles and fireworks clicked in and about 14 months later, we were married. We met on so I personally endorse that of course, but the bigger point is that if you keep trying it can actually work out just like you want it to. We have been together now for over 13 years and although I didn’t come with a lifetime warranty, she has decided to stick with me and I with her.

At 47, the chances of meeting my new great love were pretty slim if I were planning to use that old strategy of meeting in line before dining like had happened for me in 1970. But in 1998, that’s when for me, online dating became a big part of the picture.

The Right Dating Site and 3 Questions to Ask Yourself

I didn’t know where to begin, it was sort of like a candy store of eligible people and I was blindfolded and sent in to the room. And I might even have to pay for that privilege too! So I had to ask myself a few questions.

1. What type of relationship am I really looking for?

Before deciding which dating site to sign up for, consider your desired outcome. Looking to meet interesting people? Start dating again after a heartbreak? Or searching for that person to start a family with? Dating sites aren’t a “one size fits all” deal. Luckily, with many sites offering a free sign-up and/or trial you can get to know various sites before making a commitment. That’s what I did and frankly I tried an awful lot of them. I was single and dating a lot over 8 years. I can testify that no matter what type of relationship you’re looking for, there’s a dating site to meet your needs.

2. Do you prefer being matched or searching independently?

Some singles want to search through profiles before deciding who to chat with, while other people feel more comfortable being set up on dates. Luckily, the world of online dating has answers for both. One of the major benefits of using a dating site is the ability to filter potential matches according to the values and characteristics that matter most to you. This immediate screening saves time and energy by ruling out users who just aren’t compatible with you.

But, if you do want to be set up, there are sites that send matches straight to your inbox on a daily basis. With patented matchmaking technology, these sites study users’ likes and interests to provide the most compatible matches.

Using the search filters parameters such as gender, age, and location, along with more specific fields such as background, interests, and lifestyle, are ways to help find the right someone.

3. Does the cost matter?

While dating sites all provide singles with the same essential services, they each do it in a different way. Differentiating features include online chat or video chat, safety features like photo verification, and dating games. Some dating sites and apps remain free, but have ads or charge for upgrades.

For paid sites, free trial periods allow you the flexibility to get to know dating sites without the initial financial commitment. However, to unlock all features and communication tools, you’ll need to subscribe. As with most things, you get what you pay for. Be prepared for that and understand that you may have to fork out $20, $50, or even hundreds of dollars while you explore. Joining a dating site can be a smart and/or an expensive investment. But consider this…if your eligible matches are also paying a premium to be on the site, they’re looking for a relationship to invest in as well.

How to Save Money

Just because you’re willing to invest in your relationship search, doesn’t mean you want to spend an endless amount of money on it. So here are a couple smart ways to save money on the single-and-dating life.

1. Make a Smart Profile

To save both time and money (and possibly even heartache), be smart about creating your dating profile. Don’t lie or misrepresent yourself. Don’t use a 5-year-old photo. Be upfront about what you’re looking for without being off-putting. If you need help figuring out what to write, my wife highly recommends this book that she used when creating her profile (and it was a winner!). So why is your profile so important? Because you want to find your someone a) sooner rather than later and b) without meeting a bunch of people who aren’t your someone. The shorter the search, the less expensive (and exhausting) it will be.

2. Keep It Casual

When you first meet a potential match, do your best to keep things casual. Don’t go for an elaborate dinner at a pricy restaurant. Meet for coffee, or for drinks, or perhaps for lunch, or try one of these frugal dates. Use your imagination. You can also save on that fancy new outfit by keeping it casual. Just make sure to communicate with your date so you’re on the same page.

It’s also good to keep your expectations casual. At first, I was treating each meeting with a potential match as if it would turn into my next great relationship. I remember one first date that I thought went particularly well so I sent her some flowers. Instead of a thank you, she asked “what will you give me when you spend the night?” (except she used words that weren’t quite as genteel 😳). Protect your heart and your wallet by managing those expectations.

3. Manage Your Investment

If you’re using online dating sites or apps, take full advantage of free trials and sign-ups to scope out the potential matches. Don’t pay until absolutely necessary. During my last big search, I hadn’t tried because of the cost, but during a free trial, I found Suzanne’s profile and decided I really needed to contact her. I subscribed for a short duration, and the rest is history.

Final Thoughts

Being single isn’t always easy, or inexpensive. But you can go a long way to finding “the one” by figuring out the right place to look for them online and being smart about the search. And if all goes well, you just might find true love that lasts.

Have you ever used an online dating site or app? Do you see advantages to online dating or do you have faith in the old-fashioned way? What kind of inexpensive dates are fun for you?

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