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Dating on a Budget

Nancy Trejos

Dating is hard, particularly when you are on a budget.

A nice dinner for two in this town can cost you more than $100. That’s a lot to ask of someone who is paying down debt or has been laid off, as many people have these days. In a recent survey, Match.com, the biggest online dating Web site, found that 84 percent of singles had become more selective about whom they were willing to go out with in a down economy. Wouldn’t you if you had to drop $100 every time you took someone out?

So how can you maintain a dating life on a budget? I asked a few financial advisors and counselors for ideas.

Eleanor Blayney, consumer advocate for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, advises dating by day. Plan a lunch date, she said. Many expensive restaurants offer pre-fixe lunch menus and entrees at discounts. Or you can have a picnic, attend a street fair or go canoeing. If you want to see a movie, go to a matinee. For instance, at AMC Loews in Georgetown, a 1:30 p.m. showing is $8.75 while a 7:40 p.m. movie is $10.75. If you want to meet later in the day, do it early enough to hit a happy hour.

Faith Etheridge, a supervisor at Money Management International in Rockville, suggested making your own pizza at home and renting a movie. You can also bike on the canal then have a picnic along the Potomac River. She also recommended making sandwiches and heading down to the Mall for museum hopping.

“This time of year is great for dating on a budget,” she said.

Frank C. Boucher, a certified financial planner at Boucher Financial Planning Services in Reston, offered this: “Take in a military concert at the Capitol, then stroll around the Mall and catch the monuments at night. I never get tired of them. You can then splurge on an ice cream cone. Total cost equals $10. If you have been dating for a while, you can get one cone and share it,” he said.

Another option, he said, is walking along the river from the Lincoln Memorial to Georgetown at night (apparently the view is great) and grabbing a drink at an outdoor bar. That will cost you a bit more but not as much as a meal at an expensive Georgetown restaurant.

If you’re into sports, Boucher said you can get Washington Nationals tickets for $5 a piece ($10 if you actually want to sit somewhere with a view of the game.) “The Nats don’t mind if you bring your own food and soft drinks or water. Live it up by buying a $4 bag of peanuts from one of the vendors on half street,” he said.

If you really want to take your date to a restaurant, consider an ethnic Mom and Pop establishment, said Rita Cheng, a certified financial planner for Ameriprise Financial Services in Bethesda. Go to a Vietnamese restaurant, order a large bowl of pho, some garden rolls and two drinks. You’d probably spend $20 with tip.

Finally, check the restaurant’s Web site or call to see if there are promotions, said Mark Avallone, president of Potomac Wealth Advisors, LLC. Many restaurants have half-price wine nights, for instance. “But the key is to check ahead of time,” he said. “Asking a bartender or waiter about the specials in front of a date can send the wrong message.”

By Nancy Trejos  |  July 8, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Bargains , Nancy Trejos  
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Comments

"A nice dinner for two in this town can cost you more than $100."

Obviously I was dating the wrong people before the recession hit...I don't think I've ever eaten a meal that cost that much, date or no.

Posted by: forget@menot.com | July 8, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

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