Years ago I bought a car that was beyond my budget, purchased clothing from upscale retailers with student loans, and ate out for almost every meal. This disaster scenario was largely motivated by what I felt were social pressures. As a single man in college, I was compelled to outwardly display my worth. It cost me thousands of dollars.
Whether a male archetype as a provider or just wanting to flaunt objective measures of wealth while dating, our culture is fraught with beliefs that being a worthy suitor is linked to the things we own, display, and hold. This errant thinking can lead to great insecurities that motivate Veblen-style, conspicuous consumption. A $5,000 watch exclaims your wealth, but not your inner worth.
Dating requires a deep self-examination of what you value and hold true. Being frugal when dating tests this self-worth amidst conservative outer spending. Does the flashy car or fashion make you worthy of like, lust, and/or love? Maybe, but I’m here to say there’s a different, better, and more meaningful way.
1. Realize Your Inner Worth
How much are you worth? If you were to look at my Mint.com account, you’d see a red number that starts with: –. I refuse to believe this net worth represents inner worth. Losing your sense of inner worth can lead to excessive spending and problematic approaches to dating. Worth-iness when dating is more than monetary. If someone cannot see past this, they likely aren’t for you.
There’s even an advantage to thrifty, frugal, and penny-pinching behavior: You save for the future.
2. Own Your Frugality
Contrary to dating lore, opposites do not attract and tend to make for poor relationships. People tend to be attracted to similar traits. Friendships and relationships represent what we value. We seek people that identify with our goals and motivation. I aspire to have friends that love to talk openly and deeply. I aspire to have relationships that are loving and kind.
Frugaling with friendships and relationships is no different. Look for these similarities. If this is important to you, don’t be afraid to share and find out. Own it.
3. Fun and Frugal Dates
There’s a fear that the frugal life equals less fun. This unfortunate myth is tied to individuals, rather than the lifestyle. You can be exciting, new, and adventurous – regardless of your budget (I spent 5 days in Costa Rica for less than $300). Being fun and frugal means getting creative and inventive at little to no cost.
Looking for a romantic and frugal dinner? Try cooking at home, setting up some candles, and popping up an affordable bottle of wine.
Here are five articles for more frugal date ideas:
- 18 Frugal and Romantic Dates at Home
- 15 Frugal Date Ideas
- Eight Great Frugal Date Ideas
- 9 Hot Tips for Cheap Summer Dates
- 8 Awesomely Frugal Date Ideas for the Weekend
Important: You may assume that attraction includes flashy displays of wealth, but you may be surprised by the person you’re dating. After weeks of feeling like my girlfriend wanted to eat out and have fancy outings, I finally asked what she prefered. To my pleasant surprise, all she wanted was some quality time. Eating in sounded perfect.