money and dating

Money and Dating: How To Navigate Finances While Pursuing Romance

Money and dating are two aspects of life that are not particularly easy. When paired, they can get even trickier to navigate. Who pays and when? How do you avoid breaking the bank on dates? Do you talk about money? If so, when and what topics should be discussed?

We have the scoop on how to handle money and dating like an expert.

Dating Etiquette: Who Pays and When?

I recently had a conversation with a friend (a girl) about money and dating. It got me thinking about gender roles when it comes to money and dating.

First Date

My opinion: The guy pays for everything.

Her opinion: The guy pays for everything.

This is going to be a fairly standard answer across the board unless you are an uber-feminist or a broke guy. I fully believe that the guy needs to step up and pay for every cost on the first date.

Ladies, if he does not offer to pay for everything, he is either a deadbeat or not that into you. Either way, he is not worth date number two if he can’t man up and pay the bill.

Second Date

My opinion: The guy usually pays for everything, but he might allow the girl to pay for dessert.

Her opinion: The guy pays for everything.

We are getting into a gray area on the second date. A girl should not come across as a user, so she should not suggest an expensive date and expect it all to be paid. When I was dating, I never did expensive second dates, so I was always happy to pick up the tab.

If we went for ice cream (or something similar) after dinner, I always offered to pay. If she insisted on paying, I let her take the tab as long as I paid for dinner first.

Third Date

My opinion: The guy usually pays, but splitting parts or her paying for small parts is acceptable.

Her opinion: The girl can pay but probably should not be asked.

I never asked a girl to pay on a date. That is something I picked up from my Grandpa, a real Southern gentleman. However, if she insisted at this point, I wouldn’t have put up a big fight.

On the third date, you are reaching the “relationship” level, and the guy can’t be expected to pay for everything forever.

Beyond the Third Date

My opinion: The guy pays more than half of the time, but alternating paying for meals and activities is fine.

Her opinion: Split the costs to keep things fair.

Once you are “dating” someone or in an official relationship, it is normal for a couple to split the costs. In my last dating relationship, I usually paid for dinner or anything expensive (I had a better job), and she paid for cheaper dinners or lunches.

The key is finding a balance where you are both comfortable. If the guy is always paying, the girl could feel cheap, or the guy could feel resentful. If the girl pays more, a guy could feel like less of a man for it. 

money and dating

Cheap Date Ideas

When I was dating, I knew it was important to get to know each other better, spend time together, have fun, and not blow all of my money. As much as I would have loved to go to the Capital Grille and sushi every night, I knew that was unrealistic.

Here are eight ideas for going out without going broke.

How I Met Your Mother Nights

I have Netflix streaming on my Roku and Xbox. What is more romantic than cuddling on the couch watching Ted on the journey to find Mrs. Right?

What’s better is that Netflix has lots of shows. Whether you are both nerds (Star Trek) or action junkies (MacGyver), you can surely find a fun way to spend time together at home for almost nothing.


Here is a tip to any guy in a relationship: girls love “just because” flowers. Seriously. You don’t need to wait for Valentine’s Day to buy overpriced roses.

On a Wednesday night, when you are having a low-key date, head to the grocery store on the way over and pick up a $5 bouquet. This will score you major points and make her super happy.


Dinner can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. I can cook a great salmon dinner with garlic green beans and wild rice for about $15. You can, too! It is much cheaper than a fancy restaurant and gives you a great chance to spend time together.

For a bonus, pick a meal to cook together. Cooking together is fun and gives you time to talk, joke around, and eat something delicious (as long as you don’t burn it).


If it’s a beautiful day, ask the person you are dating if they’d like to take a walk and enjoy the sunshine. You can head to a nearby park, hop in the car and head to a nearby state park, or find a new part of town you want to explore.

For example, maybe there’s an art district in your city that you have never spent time in. It could be a fun date idea.

Treasure Hunt

Who would not want to go on a treasure hunt? I have done treasure hunt dates, and they were amazing! Here is how it works:

First, you need to have a smartphone. Android or iOS works. Install the Geocaching app from Groundspeak Inc. It is 100% free. Open it up and find any nearby geocache locations. The app uses your GPS to help you find a hidden treasure.

A geocache is a hidden treasure for recreational treasure hunters. You can’t keep it, but you can take something from the stash if you leave something of equal or greater value for future hunters.

Dance Lessons

Within a ten-minute drive of where I live, I know three places with weekly swing or salsa dance lessons. They all offer a free hour lesson with admission for the night. 

For $20, you can dance the night away and have fun learning the jitterbug.

Include Your Date in Your Life

Chances are, you are dating someone because you have something in common. One girl I dated liked nights out on the town. So did I. We had a great time doing something we already did, so it didn’t cost us any more to go out to the bars on a Saturday night. 

Whatever you love to do, include your guy or gal for a low-cost way to have fun.

Find Free or Cheap Stuff

The local zoo has free days every year. ScoutMob and Groupon offer great options for cheap food or a fun activity.

Also, check out coupon books like Entertainment for more ideas and discounts.

money and dating

Planning a Romantic and Affordable Weekend Getaway

If dating is going well, one of the next logical steps is to take your dates to the next level and go on a weekend getaway! While traveling with your boyfriend or girlfriend might sound expensive, it doesn’t have to break the bank.

Here’s how you can plan a romantic and affordable getaway.

Pick the Right Location

Location is one of the keys to both a good time and price. Where I live, there is no shortage of weekend destinations. From Palm Springs to Big Sur, there are many travel options. However, you might find something wonderful for a lower price by venturing off the beaten path.

For example, considering places like Ojai or Solvang might help people in Southern California get away without breaking the bank. Every place in the world has a hidden gem nearby.

Check out sites like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet if you need close-to-home vacation ideas. For discounts, try AAA or AARP if you are a member.

Choose the Right Time

Going to a mountain getaway in the winter for a weekend costs a fortune, but spring and fall hotel rates are affordable and reasonable. You could also go mid-week for some big savings.

Jump on any travel or hotel website and play around with your travel dates to find good deals. You could also look to sites like Groupon for deals.

Find the Right Activities

It might be cheap to stay in Vegas, but it costs a lot once you get there. Any city can be the same. 

Plan ahead and find discounts and activities that are both fun and reasonably priced. Hiking, climbing, wine tasting, walks, and museums are all generally cheap or free activities in my neck of the woods.

When you are out on the road, look to Lonely Planet or AAA (if you are a member) for ideas. You might even be able to squeeze out a AAA discount.

Plan Personal Time Together

This is key to a romantic weekend away. If you are spending a snowy weekend in the mountains, bring snacks and drinks so you don’t have to leave the room much.

You can even bring games you enjoy playing together or couples activities.

Should You Discuss Finances When Dating?

For some of us, talking about money is an easy thing to do. For me, a guy who shares my bank account balances on the internet, it doesn’t bother me to share my financial situation with someone in my life. Of course, I am vague in some areas, but I put a fair picture out there.

For others, money is taboo. I once dated a girl who grew up in a family where money was never discussed openly. The parents took care of everything, and the kids had no idea what was going on. If you grew up in that situation, you probably want to keep your finances close to the chest.

As a money-minded person, it makes sense that you would bring up the topic first. In doing so, you should be willing to share your financial situation. And you should absolutely talk about finances with someone you think you might want to get serious with.

Money is a common reason for relationship failure, so discussing the topic as opportunities arise is essential.

But when is the right time? When you have “the talk” and make it official? A month after? Two months? After your first weekend getaway? Every relationship is different, but it is important that you don’t blindside your partner far into a relationship when they don’t expect it. 

The best strategy is to feel it out based on the progression of your relationship. As you get more comfortable having deeper conversations, discussing more taboo topics like money with whoever you are dating will be easier.

money and dating

What To Share About Finances

When you start discussing finances with the person you are dating, it doesn’t mean bringing your statements to dinner. However, you should be willing to say, “I have about $XXX in debt and am working to pay it off by XXX,” or “My student loans cost me $XX per month.”

It is easy to paint a clear picture of your situation, goals, and plans for the future without being extremely specific.

When I was dating, I did want to know if I was dating into a ton of debt. Whether it is credit card debt (honestly, this was a deal breaker if it was too out of control) or student loans (which did not scare me off because it was accumulated trying to better their life).

It is fair that your partner should know your situation, especially as you start thinking about the next big steps in your relationship. You should also know about your partner’s financial situation so that major financial bombshells don’t blindside you.

Ultimately, the more serious you are about the person you are dating, the deeper you and your partner should be willing to dive into finances to ensure you are both on the same page before taking more significant steps in the relationship.

Taking the Next Step: Moving In Together

If you’ve reached the point where your relationship is serious enough to move in with each other, you and your significant other will have many decisions to make, from which colors to paint the walls to how to divvy up the chores. 

But, the most important thing couples can do before they move in together is create financial boundaries. This can only be done once you’ve had important financial talks that include understanding each other’s budgets, including spending and savings habits.

Once the partners have discussed their budgets, they should begin to set financial boundaries. Here are some important boundaries to consider before signing a lease together.

Set Financial Goals and Make Plans on How To Achieve Them

Each person should make a list of their own financial goals, such as saving for retirement or getting out of debt, and a list of shared financial goals, such as saving for a romantic vacation or buying a home together.

Next, create a plan for how much each person needs to contribute each month to these goals to make them a reality. For example, couples who want to buy a home should determine how soon they want to buy a house and then figure out how much they need to save each month for a down payment, which can be up to 20 percent of the house’s purchase price.

When couples have financial goals, it helps them set their own boundaries on what they should spend money on (the goals) and which expenses are of lesser priority.

money and dating

Split Monthly Costs

Make a list of all the monthly bills, including electric, cable, water, insurance, and more, then decide who is responsible for making sure each bill gets paid. 

Maybe one person pays all the bills, and the other reimburses him/her for half. Or perhaps the couple splits up the bills so each person takes responsibility for his/her half.

Consider opening a joint account to which each person contributes a predetermined amount and use this account to pay bills. Just remember that both partners own joint accounts, so there is a risk of one person taking money out of the account without telling the other.

Create Limits on Food Costs

Food costs can sometimes be the biggest expense in a couple’s budget beyond housing costs. That’s why limiting how much each person is willing to spend on food each month, including groceries and dining out, is essential.

It’s usually a good idea for couples to set the food budget at about 10 percent more than they anticipate spending. This way, they’re likely to stay within budget and use the extra savings for a nice dinner or toward one of their financial goals.

Buy Items for the Home Individually

No one wants to think about this, but couples sometimes break up. That’s why experts say it’s a good idea for couples to buy furniture and electronics individually that they share in the home. Then, make a list of who bought what so it is easy to split up belongings if you part ways.

The Bottom Line

When you have the right strategy to manage money and dating effectively, you can enjoy getting to know someone new. There’s no need for stress during the dating process!

By understanding how to save money on dates, when to talk to your significant other about financial topics, and ways to handle finances if you move in together, you’ll be able to stay on track with achieving your financial goals while helping your new relationship blossom.

Money and Dating: How To Navigate Finances While Pursuing Romance
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