Love may be priceless but dates often aren’t. Between the restaurants, tips, movie tickets and popcorn, the cost of a date can quickly add up. According to DailyMail, the average American spends more than $20,000 on dates over a five-and-a-half-year period. However, going on dates doesn’t have to mean going into debt. Professors of Accounting Practice John Petosa and MaryAnn Monforte of Syracuse University‘s Martin J. Whitman School of Management, weigh in on what you should know and do to reduce the costs of your date.
To Petosa and Monforte, awareness is key. Calculating the additional cost factors that contribute to a date helps to reduce the overall cost of the date. For instance, when celebrating a holiday the cost of a date is likely to increase.
“A regular date may not be as costly as a date to celebrate Valentine’s Day,” said Petosa. “This is because of supply and demand and expectation. We create these holidays where people are encouraged to show their love but there are only so many roses and restaurants seats.”
During the holidays, restaurants may also switch to a fixed menu.
“You get three or four choices and the prices are usually higher than what they would normally be otherwise,” explained Monforte.
A person planning a date can count on spending more during holiday time periods. Locations also largely contribute to the overall cost of a date. People in metropolitan areas often face an uphill battle when it comes to dating.
“Dates in larger metropolitan areas tend to be costlier,” said Monforte.
Zoosk, a dating website, found in places like New York City the average cost of a date is around $175, not including the cab ride. Movie tickets in areas such as Los Angeles, California may cost double, even triple the cost of tickets in other areas. In contrast, the average price of a date drops significantly in other places.
“In Indianapolis, Indiana, the average cost of a date drops to about $80,” said Monforte.
Then there is the price of gas, or cab fare, as well as gifts you may want to bring your date, which can be more expensive depending on where you are located.
The number of dates you’ve been on with a person, your age group and relationship status may contribute to the cost of the date. According to GQ magazine, a college student is expected to spend somewhere between $50 to $100 range on a first date. Those who have been out of college and more into their career may spend an upward of $150 on a first date. If you’re a parent, a date may include paying for a babysitter.
“All that cost is going to add to your overall cost of a date,” said Monforte.
To save money try making a list of common costs in your area. This will give you a ballpark for how much you may spend during each date. You can mix and match to create a date that best works with your budget. Monforte encourages everyone to remember that not every date has to be expensive.
“The one thing that people confuse about dating is that they think they need dinner and drinks but there are a lot of things to do that can be inexpensive,” explained Monforte. “My husband and I used to drive around listening to music and just talking.”
“You can also find less costly events to go to or free events such as going for walk in the park,” added Petosa.
Visiting museums can offer hours of conversation topics and activities and often cost less. In places like Washington D.C. and New York City, there are free museums and museums that allow visitors to purchase tickets based on the customers’ budget.
For those looking for bigger dates, Petosa recommends planning ahead and looking online for deals. Planning the date, especially dates for big occasions, can reduce the chances of falling into holiday pitfalls while planning a date.
“If you wait until the last minute you’ll likely spend more money,” said Petosa. “There are lots of sites on the internet that offer deals, such as Groupon.”
Petosa also recommends looking for opportunities to reduce using credit card points.
“If you have a credit card that uses points, look into that,” said Petosa. “Some card companies offer points not just for flying but for restaurants. A date should not put you in debt.”