Sunday, February 17, 2008

How To Be A Cheap Date - In A Good Way

This isn't exactly a sex column, but I wrote it for my new budget column in the paper, and I thought it was fairly relevant, or at least a little helpful, so I thought I'd go ahead and post it, since I haven't posted anything.

For most, sex dating is an integral and important part of life, especially college life. Whether it’s a string of first dates/one night stands, the occasional couple dates, or a single long standing relationship, a very large portion of the college community finds themselves with some kind of love life at some point.

But as most of us know, dating can be expensive. A typical first date dinner-and-a-movie routine can run you up in numbers all on its own. The dinner part can typically run from twenty to fifty dollars, depending on where you go and what you get. Movie tickets vary from five dollars to twelve each, and snacks can have crazy high prices. On average, that’s about an average total of about fifty dollars so far, then add on the possibility of after movie drinks, coffee, or desserts, and you’ve spend a good seventy dollars of someone you may never even get to see again.
So to avoid spending an entire days worth of minimum wage pay on your next date, here are a few creative date ideas to get your next one going, on a slightly less expensive scale.

First off, don’t assume you have to impress too much on the first date. If this person is interested in you, a slightly less expensive meal on the first date isn’t going to keep him/her from being up for another one. You don’t want to stop by Wendy’s on the way to the theatre and demand she order from the dollar menu- you can save that for later- but don’t stress about going to the best of the best on your very first.

As for the movie, why not step away from the traditional box office hit, and go for something a little more classic- and affordable? Many cities have old theaters that show plays and classical movies for awesomely low prices. And don't forget to stop by your local Visitor Center to look for Coupon Books and Visitor's Guides, that could have either locations, or awesome coupons!

For cheap night time dates, a lot of websites and guides recommend going for coffee as an affordable alternative to offering a full meal. But while the setting is intimate, the drinks are good, and you feel a bit more comfortable, I disagree with the idea that it is typically affordable. Coffee nowadays isn’t just coffee, now is it? It’s lattes and frappuccinos and double mocha-latte-frappuccinos with foam, and those can add up.

So when getting coffee, try to steer clear of usually expensive chains like Starbucks and Port city, and go for the smaller privately owned places. These usually have cheaper prices, more privacy, and more variety. Look around. You're very likely to find a good coffee shop down the street or on the corner, or maybe just around it.

On a clear, warm day, the kind that only rolls around here once every few weeks, why not try something simple, like a picnic? The idea can seem silly, but a picnic can be very cute, and even romantic, if that’s the mood you’re going for, and it lets you spend one on one time with your date, which can be good too. Plus, this isn’t just a good idea for a first date, it’s a wonderful gesture on your first, fifth, or hundredth date.

And if you can’t cook, don’t worry about it. Just stop by a deli and grab some sandwiches and a side dish. Make some tea or juice at home, or grab some drinks. Good thing is that even after that expense, it’s still cheaper than going out for dinner. Then go get your date and make a little picnic at a nearby park, downtown, or even on a college campus. Afterwards you can go for a walk around the park. If you feel a little more adventurous, you could pick a weekend and make the hour or so drive to the mountains for a picnic and a hike instead. I don’t recommend this for first dates though, unless you already know each other, because you’re date may get a little creeped out when you’re driving in the middle of nowhere.

Now how about something more active? Try picking a weekday where neither of you have classes or work and give ice skating a shot. Look around for local skating rinks- ice or traditional. On a weekday afternoon, you can strap on some skates and make a fool- or hero- out of yourself for as little as five dollars a person. This is a great opportunity to learn something about your date, and just have some fun.

For girls looking for a night out, try clubs and bars where you know you wont have to spend a lot of money. Watch out for Lady's Nights, where girls get in free or half off before a certain time. Clubs are a great way to have a good time and shed some calories, and you don't have to spend a lot.

When it comes to sex safety, I have the luxury of being a student at a college where the Med Center has a lovely big bowl of condoms in the lobby, so I make sure to grab at least four or five every time I'm even passing through the building. I recommend this to anyone who lives near a campus or clinic. If they're in a waiting room or hallway and someone asks what your doing there, just say your looking or waiting for someone, and grab a handful when they walk away. Yeah, it's kinda seedy and low, but, personally, I'd rather you do that than go without them.

DON'T try to use plastic wrap or gloves as a cheaper alternative to condoms during any type of intercourse. For oral sex, yeah, seran wrap is fine, but never ever for intercourse. It breaks, whether you think it will or not.

Dating can be expensive, but with the right ideas- and coupons- you can do just about anything affordably. So be fun, be safe, and be affordable.

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