So, I apologize for the almost exact month that I have not posted. I was endeavoring to procure additional funds from a new job that will be filed under the "mistakes" tab of my life (and potentially this blog if I can figure out how to add tabs). It ended up costing me time, money, and a whole lot of energy. The only thing I can say was beneficial about it was the exercise I got from the excessive amount of walking it required.
But I promised a post about affordable dating, not a giant vent, so here it is:
Dates primarily consist of Food, Fun, and Fraternization. (I love alliteration! Plus it helps with memory)
This one is usually the easiest. Restaurants give out tons of coupons; they are betting on the fact that you are more likely to eat there with a coupon than you are without and a little less money overall is better than none at all. It is similar to the philosophy that led to the invention of the gift card. (With a gift card, if the giftie uses less than was on the card the store still makes the amount paid for the card, if they spend more than the card, the store makes even more: win-win)
Anyway, the easiest way to get a restaurant coupon is to sign up for their mailing list. About a week prior to the date sign up for several local restaurants' mailing list and printing off the coupons they send you. Most will be for a free appetizer but some are better. Ruby Tuesday's is the best bet in my opinion.
Other options include finding coupons via an app on your phone, cash back offers though your bank or credit card, and Restaurant.com gift cards (they sell gift cards for less than their value but have strict stipulations that limit use such as "on purchases exceeding $20" or "cannot be combined with other offers").
If you want to let your date pick the place the day of the date, keep all the coupons on you that are likely choices. If you can decide beforehand it gives you more time to plan. Also, if you want to be covert about using a coupon, wait until your date has gone to the bathroom -or make an excuse to go yourself- and slip the coupon to the waiter/waitress.
If you have to present it in front of your date just think about the fact it is less embarrassing to use a coupon than to have to go dutch.
This tends to be the hardest to find discounts for. Not that there aren't any, it just takes a little more digging and creative thinking.
The best thing to go with is local attractions; public events, parks, and fund raisers. These are all free-to-see deals where you can get to know each other. Fund raising events may not sound like fun for a date, but events like Relay For Life can have dancing and games plus you feel good for helping others.
Check out the websites for local radio/TV stations as they will generally have a page devoted to discounts for local stores, events, and concerts.
Barring that, the movies and the local mall are good standbys. There are various ways to get free or discounted tickets to a movie theater. Find out if the school you attend sells movie tickets (or have if they sponsor special events at the local theater, such as the "Cheapdate" movie of the month deal at The University of South Alabama where you can purchase tickets for a specific showing of a specific movie for $2). You can also check to see if a local theater offers a student/military discount. Some banks will also have offers. There is the occasional online offer for a free movie ticket, but they are few and far between. They also have many rules about where and when they can be used and have expiration dates. I recommend using these only if they happen to work for your date anyway.
The mall offers tons of options, if you know the stores that your date prefers, repeat the advice for the restaurant coupons. Same principle.
(btw gifts are a good idea)
It shouldn't cost a thing! Be yourself and try to have fun. If you spend to whole date as a nervous wreck the date will suck for both parties. If you can't help it fake confidence until you feel confident. Like smiling when you are upset it triggers a reaction in your brain to make you happier.
This is a bare-bones outline of a date, it is up to you to fill in the gaps. Us your imagination to make it fun and my guide to keep it within budget.
Till next time :)