A woman is the most expensive investment a guy can ever make in his life. We get in the habit of spending unsustainable amounts of money on women, especially when we are just starting to date them. This is an expensive mistake for any guy with an entry-level salary. Expensive dinners at pretentious, ambient restaurants with a bottle of overpriced wine, going to the movies, or even having drinks out at a fancy bar–all of these will crush your wallet, and you still aren’t guaranteed a second date. This is when you have to be the MacGyver of dating and come up with a few less expensive alternatives to dial up the romance and rescue your bank account (and possibly your credit).
1. Create Your Own Ambience
Shopping list: Febreze, $2 bottle of wine, a few cheap candles from Target
This one requires a little extra effort. You don’t have to clean up your whole place, just your living room–no clutter, no trash. Randomly spray Febreze everywhere. Have the first glass of wine already poured when she arrives so she won’t see how cheap the wine is until she’s a glass in. The important thing is to merely create the illusion, not keep up the illusion. Since fluorescent lighting isn’t really the sexiest lighting around, make sure the only light in your place is the family of cheap candles you bought, strategically positioned around the room. Move the coffee table to the side and open up iTunes, Spotify, or Grooveshark on your laptop. Put on some Sinatra, pull her in close, and dance with her. After a glass or two of wine, and with the limited lighting, she won’t be able to critique your horrible dancing and hopefully she’ll be caught up in the moment. She’ll melt in your hands when you start whispering in your ear. And it’s all less than $10.
2. Picnic in the Park
Shopping list: The bread from your pantry that was about to go stale, peanut butter, jelly, sandwich bags, a blanket, a cooler, some cheap alcohol (optional)
It’s a little cliché. Okay, it’s a lot cliché, but a picnic in the park is a sure winner. You’re walking in the park. There are flowers blooming, birds chirping, and all that crap, and you get to combine it with eating, drinking, and sitting out in the sun. You two can chat and enjoy the view, people watch, and have just enough PDA for her to show off to the outside world that she’s being romanced. Even better, you won’t have to take her out to a restaurant after walking in the park. Once again, you’re using the romance of the moment to make her overlook the fact that you probably spent $15 on the date, which you can probably spread out over multiple dates. Win-win.
3. Netflix Night
Shopping list: Netflix subscription.
This is probably your cheapest option, but it’s not overly impressive, so it’s best left for your second or third week of dating. You can turn the lights off and throw on any cheesy movie she wants to watch while she snuggles up to you and you play with her hair. You can do all the corny affectionate crap that needy single girls tweet about, like holding her hand, whispering in her ear, kissing her neck, etc. What’s in it for you? Maybe a little slap and tickle. She might fall asleep in your lap, which would be the most action you’ve gotten in months. Plus, after she falls asleep, you’re free to watch whatever you want.
4. Trader Joe’s Flowers
Shopping list: Quality, but still relatively cheap flowers from Trader Joe’s. Possibly a jar of cookie butter, just in case you need backup.
Randomly stop by her place with $6.99 + tax flowers. She’ll love it.