Dating on a Budget

A happy couple hold hands

In our society, spending money is the traditional way to show a new love interest that they linger in your thoughts. You buy them flowers and candy, you take them out to dinner, you plan fun outings that your new special someone will enjoy. Unfortunately, these traditional acts of courtship and material declarations of love aren't always in the budget. But that doesn't mean you have to let true love pass you by.

There are many different ways to show your affection and romance a new love without overspending on your monthly budget. The key is to tackle the spirit of courtship, not the big spender traditions.

Know Your Love's Interests

Your special someone is a unique and wonderful person who is more than someone to be 'wined and dined.' They have their own interests, priorities, and values in a relationship. Knowing what your love values and is interested in can often allow you to take a shortcut around the expensive part of courtship and skip right to the low-cost intimacy of real human connection.

You can replace the 'impressive' factor of spending on your love with the intimacy of offering what they really want. A picnic in the park, for example, may well be more romantic to your partner than an expensive dinner in a restaurant. An evening in watching horror movies and eating popcorn might be more enticing than a full-price trip to the movies for a single film.

Home Cooked Candlelit Dinners

A candlelit date in a restaurant can cost you anywhere from $20 to $80 depending on the venue and menu, but you can host at home for a fraction of the cost. Even if you're not a great chef, there are recipes that even the least skilled chef can throw together for a classic candle-lit date.

Throw a tablecloth on your table, dim the lights, and light a few tall $2 candles in a candelabra you picked up at a thrift store. Put together a soft romantic soundtrack playing in the background and get cooking. Almost anyone can throw together a classic spaghetti dinner, for example, by boiling pasta according to the package and picking up a jar of Prego. Add garlic powder on buttered toast, and you're good to go.

By cooking at home, you can show your date how much you care without spending an arm & leg at a fancy restaurant.

Give Gifts from the Heart

For many romantic partners, the quality of a gift matters much more than the price tag. Some lovers will be delighted to receive a shiny stone you found on your way home while others will know you understand them when you present handmade gifts that prove you were thinking of them. Whether you sketch your beloved during work hours and present it to them over dinner or find the perfect second-hand accessory at a garage sale, what matters is that gifts come from the heart.

Hand-pick wildflowers instead of buying them, but take time to wrap them in paper and a ribbon. Give a gift from your own collection of keepsakes and explain the item's meaning during the gifting. It's not the cost that matters; it's the connection the gift creates between you.

Create Experiences

Rather than focusing on courtship in purchases, look at courtship as creating experiences. Give your date the night of their life, whatever that means to them. Go for bike rides and camping trips, or walking haunted city tours and lock-ins, or invite them to help you with a garage sale. Every person is different in the kind of experience they want to share with a romantic partner, and a great experience is more valuable than any high-cost activity or gift.

If your special someone has a wonderful time, you'll win their heart without hurting your finances.