5 Ways to save on a date without looking stingy

Angelique Ruzicka
Angelique Ruzicka

Keeping your date happy on special occasions like Valentine’s Day while sticking to your budget could be like walking on a tightrope – one wrong move and everything could go awry.

You may want to wine and dine your loved one at a five-star establishment, but your bank balance may make you think twice and lead instead to a cosy night in with pizzas and a moderately priced bottle of red. But keeping the spending down may not be so easy, particularly if this is a new relationship and your partner enjoys the good life.

City Press has a few suggestions to keep the amount you spend on a date in check, without your new love suspecting your not-so-spendthrift ways:

1. Order wisely

It could be blatantly obvious that you are watching your pennies if you ask your waiter about the specials of the night, but there are also subtle ways to keep the bill from escalating.

Katherine Jacobs, online editor of Eat Out, says: “Order the vegetarian option. Most fine dining restaurants have a vegetarian tasting menu, which is often just as delicious and usually cheaper.”

2. It's all about timing

“Go on a date at lunchtime, particularly when it comes to fine-dining restaurants.

There is often a shorter, more affordable tasting menu at lunch time. Or go out for brunch – there’s cheaper food and you’re less likely to consume alcohol. Also, go out in winter.

Many high-end bistros and fine-dining restaurants offer specials in winter,” says Jacobs.

If you’re keen to go somewhere where you can have some alcohol, why not bring your own?

“Ask about corkage and, if it’s affordable, take your own wine,” adds Jacobs.

3. Make use of voucher or deal sites

It doesn’t help that Valentine’s Day falls in the middle of the month at a time when we could potentially already be going broke.

But thanks to group buying websites such as Hyperli and The Entertainer, we could take our date out for a fraction of the usual cost.

You could also be doing some good by buying a coupon.

“I think using vouchers is becoming more acceptable. I see lots of struggling restaurants offering vouchers and specials that are loss leading so that they can get noticed.

You may be helping out some poor business owners,” says Jacobs.

If you think that whipping out a coupon would embarrass your date, rather tell the waitron about your voucher on the side or find out about specials in more subtle ways.

“On our website, we update restaurant specials weekly, and we see from the numbers that there is a huge appetite for them,” says Jacobs.

4. Make a romantic dinner at home

If you can cook like Jenny Morris, then suggest a romantic candlelit dinner at home. It could save you money as you can control the menu and raid your drinks cabinet.

However, if your cooking skills are questionable, you could always order in.

A spokesperson for Uber says: “UberEats could be an idea for reducing costs on a date, and you get many choices at the tap of a button. If you don’t want your date to know you ordered in, you can still say you cooked it.

“Use a friend’s code, which you can get off their app, and you get R90 off on your first meal and they get R90 off their next order. So it’s a win-win for both.”

5. Put it on your credit card

While we don’t support getting into debt over a meal or experience, if you are worried your thrifty ways will be too much of a turn-off for your partner, put the expense on your credit card.

With most credit cards, you have between 55 and 57 days to pay back the money in full before you get charged interest.

Unless expensive dinners and experiences are something your date will demand regularly, this strategy is a way to help you while you wait for payday.

Honesty is best

While these strategies are short-term solutions to impressing your date in the early days of courtship, if money is an issue, it will have to come out eventually.

Amanda Fortes, a psychotherapist, explains that the problem with money and relationships is that money is quantifiable – people can work out how much you have spent on something.

People then often equate how much you’ve spent on them with how much you love them.

Those who don’t have the money to put on a grand display have no option but to hide their thrifty tactics.

Fortes says it’s understandable that people may not want to reveal all in the beginning, because it may ruin the mystery and romance.

“But at the same time, you should communicate your values and money habits,” she advises, pointing out that the number one reason most couples head for divorce is because of financial problems.

She suggests revealing your conservative views about money through a compromise.

“You can, for example, say: ‘I wouldn’t normally spend money on this type of holiday as it’s too commercial, but because you are special to me, I am taking you out for a nice dinner.’”

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