Money Talks, So Should You

40-Something Frugalista: How to date on a budget

by T.L., Dimespring 30 (@beachbudget)

Here are the facts: I’m 42 and have never been married. I have, however, been in several long-term relationships, dated many people over the years, and have had my fair share of fun flings.

But it wasn’t until 2012, when I got my financial act together, that I ever started to consider just how you could date and be frugal at the same time.

READ: Using a coupon on the first date – dealbreaker or good financial savvy?

Here are some of my ideas:

Beauty & Grooming

We all want to look our best, especially at the beginning of a courtship before the niceties wear off and you end up sitting on the couch in your yoga pants watching reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Oh that’s just me? Sorry.

But let’s face it: good grooming can cost money, so here are some ways to help alleviate the financial strain, while still looking your best.

Shop your closet. What do you have in your closet already that you can turn into a snazzy date outfit? Try to mix and match new things to create a variety of looks.

Have a clothing swap with friends.

Use box hair dye. Going to the salon can get crazy expensive. Give it a shot and do this in between salon visits. I’ve been doing this for years!

Do your own manis/pedis. At least cut back on visits. The more you do it, the better you get.

Spend more on quality clothes, and less on trendy clothes. Things like black skirts, black pants, and a nice pair of shoes all stand the test of time and should be part of your basic wardrobe. Invest more on these items, then each season buy a few trendy tops and accessories that are less expensive.

READ: Fighting off the shopping temptation

The Date

Once you have a date, that’s where you need to watch your budget the most. But fear not, there are a million ideas you can find on the internet, and here are just a few to get you started:

Go on a hike or bike ride. I love activity dates, Pack a sandwich for you and your date and head to the great outdoors. The internet is chock full of resources for information on bike paths and day hikes in your area.

Have a picnic. Get an inexpensive bottle of wine, and pack some cheese and crackers and head to a park or beach. Bring a Frisbee, or some other kind of activity to keep you busy (guys I swear you will score romantic points for this one).

Visit a museum. Museums can be inexpensive or free (sometimes only on certain days), and it’s a great way to stretch your intellectual muscle. Find free or inexpensive live music, dance, or theater in your area.

Cook dinner together at home. This is one of my personal favorites. A little vino … a little pasta … some music ...

Events and festivals. There is usually live music, crafts, food trucks, etc., that could make the date really fun. I recently discovered outdoor cinema events, which are a lot of fun and remind me of the “old days” of drive-in movies.

READ: How frugal is too frugal?

Attend a high school or college event. You can find activities like sporting events, lectures, book readings, movies, etc. for free or minimal cost.

Hopefully this gives you good ideas to get started. Remember there is a difference between frugal and cheap. Don’t be cheap!

If you are a guy, I personally believe that you should pay for the first date. Eventually it should even out, but a first impression is everything. Yes, that means even if she offers to pay.

Good luck everyone, and may you all find true love!


T.L. is a freelance video editor and blogger living in Los Angeles. She enjoys movies, running and playing beach volleyball. You can follow her personal finance journey on her blog at Budget & the Beach, and follow her on twitter at @beachbudgetT.L. is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and attitudes on personal finance.