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It’s no surprise that Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest date nights of the year. It’s also a great opportunity to take someone on a first date—which might present a problem for those of us who are getting out of debt.
The problem being: How can I make my date feel special without blowing up my budget? It’s a question as old as romance itself. (Okay, maybe not that old.)
Some of you out there will let yourselves off the budget hook on Valentine’s Day. If you’ve got a date, especially a first date, you think that’s reason to celebrate—so you go over the top.
Others of you—those who are really frugal and trying to pay off debt—will do everything short of making your date pay their own way.
So how do you handle this dicey situation? How do you walk through this romantic minefield without blowing your budget … and maybe even getting a second date?
We’re here to help. Here are some financial mistakes to avoid on your Valentine’s Day date:
Use a coupon ripped out of a newspaper or magazine.
Nothing says, “Only the best for you, my dear lady,” like a shriveled, torn coupon for one free appetizer with the purchase of two entrees of $12 or more. Those free cheese sticks just might make her love you forever. In all seriousness, if you must use a coupon on the first date, do it discreetly.
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Go out without a plan.
Think of your Valentine’s Day date as a monthly budget. Instead of planning your spending for the whole month, though, you’re just planning for the night. Almost all restaurants have a menu on their website these days, so you can get a good idea of how much you’ll have to spend ahead of time. Do that.
Tip your server poorly.
This really has nothing to do with your date; it’s just the right thing to do. If you don’t have the money to give at least a 15–20% tip for good service, then you don’t have the money to go out to a restaurant. And if your date picks up on the fact that you skimped on the tip, good luck getting a second date. No one likes a cheapskate.
Go all out.
On the other hand, you might be tempted to impress your date with a dozen roses, a bottle of champagne and a $200 dinner. After all, who wouldn’t want that? Well, maybe someone who thinks the only logical next step to a first date that extravagant is popping the question. Talk about scaring someone off! Besides that, when you set the bar that high right off the bat, there’s nowhere to go but down!
Tell them, “Dave says …”
Don’t involve Dave in your Valentine’s Day date failures. Now, if you know ahead of time that your date is a Dave Ramsey fan, then talk envelopes and 401(k)s to your heart’s content. But if you’re not sure where your date stands on money management, this isn’t the time to preach. You can casually talk about your views on money without saying, “Dave Ramsey says credit cards are stupid!” every 10 minutes.
Offer to share an entrée.
Oh, come on. If your financial situation is so bad that you have to ask for an extra plate and cut a 10-ounce steak in half, then you shouldn’t be going to restaurants on Valentine’s Day. Cook something at home. Have a picnic in the park. Do something creative and different. But, for the love of all things good and romantic, don’t ask to share an entrée on your Valentine’s Day date—especially if it’s a first date. And, yes, we’re not making this up. It has really happened.
Talk about how much money you make.
This might be the tackiest thing you can do on a first date. Don’t even try to work it into the conversation because it will just sound desperate and forced. “Oh, look. This entrée costs $25! That’s almost what I made last year, except that it was $250,000! Oh my! How funny!” Yeah, not funny. Not funny at all. Your mom taught you better. And if she didn’t, we are teaching you better right now. Don’t do it.
Valentine’s Day dates can be awesome, or they can be terrible. Sometimes, things just aren’t meant to be. The date might not go well, and that’s okay. Just make sure you don’t contribute to an awful date night by doing any of these seven things.
An effective way that couples build their relationships and get on the same page about money is by attending Financial Peace University together. Learn more about the class.