Ways to find love without spending a fortune

Adelaide-based Karina Chapman, 54, has been fairly active on the dating scene over the past seven years.

But along with the everyday struggles of trying to find meaningful connections and avoid time-wasters on dating apps, she’s finding a new roadblock to overcome – the cost.

Ms Chapman still goes on a couple of dates every month, but she has become selective about who she’s willing to meet, and has had to change how she dates due to financial pressures from repeated rent hikes and a static income.

The dating game can be hard, and financial pressures make it harder. Photo: Karina Chapman

“I’d rather not go out for dinner. I’d rather go out for drinks, and even then, sometimes … I’d rather just get a soft drink or a coffee rather than alcohol, because that’s getting a bit pricey,” she said.

“I usually choose somewhere that’s not that far from me … I don’t want to drive halfway across the city and pay a fortune and petrol as well.”

She’s not alone in finding dating is more expensive.

Squeezing Aussie wallets

A Choosi report found just under 75 per cent of Australians aged between 18 and 49 agree that dating has become much more expensive than it used to be, and half say this is significantly affecting their finances.

The average amount of money spent on a date is estimated to be $158 for Australians in this age range, which quickly adds up as daters embark on up to five dates a month.

When it comes to who pays for the date, research shows that men are much more likely than women to pay for most of the date, while women are more likely to incur preparation costs, including for new clothes and accessories, make-up and beauty treatments.

Love and life coach Angela Barrett said as the cost of classic date activities, like dinner and a movie, has gone up over the past few years, people are becoming more mindful of how much they spend and are more discerning of potential date partners.

But the success of a date doesn’t necessarily equate to how much money is put into it.

In fact, thinking outside the box and doing something different – and cheaper – can be more fun, and double as a bonding experience that helps break the ice.

Cheaper date ideas

The report found the most common ways Australians have tried to save money on dates are going for a walk and exploring a new area, having a picnic in a park or on the beach, and cooking a romantic dinner at home.

Some of Ms Barrett’s budget-friendly date ideas include:

  • Let your competitive side shine through with a round of pool, snooker or darts at a pub
  • Find a free concert, or listen to a music act at the local pub
  • Visit a gallery or museum
  • Try a pub trivia night – you could even use this as a chance to have your friends screen your date
  • A friendly game of tennis or badminton, or something even simpler, like a run
  • Watch live sport
  • Grab a coffee and take a stroll.

If your potential date is pushing for a more expensive activity, being upfront and honest is often the best policy – as is sharing the cost burden.

“If somebody’s suggesting a place to go where you know it’s going to be expensive … [just be] honest … say, ‘It’s a little bit out of my price range. What about we just go to this other place instead?'” Ms Barrett said.

“I think it’s best to split the bill the first time, and then in ensuing dates, I think it’s good to be on a level playing field and to take it in turns in paying, or split [the] bill.”

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