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A Pinched Wallet Doesn’t Mean Your Love Life Has to Suffer

By Rory O’Sullivan

 We’ve frequently discussed how the recession pinched our generation’s wallets: pervasive unemployment and underemployment can make it hard for people to pay rent, afford health insurance, and cover monthly bills.  As a result, many struggle to even make it out of their parent’s house.

Given the tough times, there’s not much extra cash lying around, which can put a damper on other “non-essentials,” like dating.

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Whether it’s the search for a serious relationship or just some flirtatious fun, romance is a central theme for most 20-somethings – but a very expensive theme.

A traditional night out to dinner adds up fast. Two glasses of wine? $18. Appetizer? $10. Two entrées? $30. Dessert? Sure why not. $6. Tax and tip can easily put you over $70 total.

Okay, so the price is only that high for people living in expensive cities, but wherever you go, the price is not right.

So we here at the YI office did some brainstorming on how to date cheaply and–classily! Here are a few ideas:

1.    Drinks, Not Dinner: A friend who did a lot of online dating always advocated for this strategy, noting that your partner may not want to commit to a first dinner either. Why risk an awkward 2 hours staring down at your food with nothing to say?  Grab a drink and see if you have chemistry before plunging into a meal.

2.    Museums: I live in DC where the Smithsonian is free, but even the ones that cost money are pretty cheap. Museums offer ready topics of conversation and are great for getting to know one another. Heck, it worked for the Obamas.

3.    Do Something Active: Go for a short hike. Take a bike ride. Visit a climbing gym. There may not be as much chance to talk, but doing something together could bring you closer together.

4.    Picnic: This brings in the food element, and better scenery than the restaurant. Also: want to know a great way to impress your date? Cook something for them. Seriously, the heart is connected to the stomach.

5.    Visit Deal Sites:  Both LivingSocial and Groupon offer deals above 50% off on everything from trendy restaurants to paint balling.


Hopefully these have got you thinking about your next night out. Leave more good ideas in the comments below!