Million-dollar Dating at Bargain Prices

Happy Couple

When times get tough, the financially challenged get romantic. That is, they can if they follow these thrifty -- but effective -- dating strategies.

Even if you’re not sitting on a trust fund or earning big bucks, you can still show a lady a great time on just a little dough. And if you are well-off, these tips can still help you date well, since the amount of money spent on a date doesn’t necessarily equal the amount of fun to be had. Follow these five low-cost dating strategies, and you’ll get great ROI (Romance on Investment).


Get Retro
Ask her about board games she liked as a kid. Then go out and actually get them. (Her sweet tooth for “Candyland” will only cost you $12.99 on eBay, or -- if you’re lucky -- she’ll say “Battleship,” only $11.95 on eBay.) She’ll squeal with surprise -- not in a Deliverance kind of way.
Why this works: You asked about her past, you remembered her response, you went out, scouted for that game and found it. Women consider effort, especially when the process involves several steps, an amazing feat for guys. Use that to your advantage.
Caution: Do not drop hints beforehand -- she’ll inevitably think it’s bigger/shinier and be disappointed regardless of what you get. This way, she’s totally surprised.

Break a Sweat
Believe it or not, she’s been waiting for someone to take her to the park -- the one with the rubber tires and monkey bars. Just be sure to avoid after-school hours -- kick it up after the kiddies go home for dinner.
Why this works: She gets to talk about herself. She’ll tell you about how she once cracked a tooth on the asphalt, did an amazing summersault off the swings and survived the wrath of mean girl Stacey Abramowitz in sixth grade. Bottom line: She’ll feel like you really know her and this little adventure has brought you together.
Caution: You haven’t done a standing flip off the top of the slide in at least a couple of years. Maybe you’ve grown, gained weight or just remember the ground as being farther away. Leave gymnastics to the pros.

Get Classic
Bring over some movies like Casablanca or Gone with the Wind. She’ll tag you a Renaissance man akin to Rick or Rhett (even if your real goal is to avoid having to sit through another contemporary chick flick). Alternative: Pick up season one of her favorite TV show (maybe it’s “Friends,” “Weeds” -- hopefully anything but “Sex and the City”).
Why this works: Rather than scream “cheap date,” the evening will sing “romance.” Plus, you can top it off with some of your special gourmet popcorn (a la bag!).
Caution: Maybe she did say she liked Black Hawk Down, but resist the urge.

Be Silly
Whether it’s doing Mad Libs together or teaming up against another couple for charades, you’ll be taking advantage of the fact that the language and interaction part of her brain is bigger. See, while men like doing things in a parallel way (like sitting side by side watching sports), research shows women like face-to-face and verbal interaction.
Why this works: She gets back-and-forth time with you and gets to use words.
Caution: Learn what an adverb and a reflexive pronoun are before playing Mad Libs or you’ll look like a tool.

Give a Little
Ask her to join you at the soup kitchen. No, not to eat there, dummy -- to do volunteer work. Although you won’t label this a real “date,” afterward, you’ll enjoy the fresh afterglow of having done some good in the world, which will give you both a warm and fuzzy feeling that’s very … date-like.
Why this works: Wow, how cool, you care about others! What a breath of fresh air!
Caution: Make sure to pick a cause you really like -- your heartfelt mission to help will render you irresistible.

by Belisa Vranich