Dating can be a costly affair. Whether it's taking your partner out for an evening on the town or meeting someone new for coffee, the receipts certainly pile up. But there's no reason to sacrifice your bank account to your social life. Here are 10 easy ways to cut the cost of date-night preparations.
LOOK FOR DEALS
Before setting a plan, scout around for cheap date ideas. A little advance legwork can open the door to fun activities that don't require huge outlays. Search for deals on dinner, drinks, movies, plays, or concerts on sites such as Groupon or LivingSocial, but also look for deals on less traditional date activities, such as go-kart racing, skydiving, and dance lessons.
When seeing someone new or going on a first date, it's natural to worry about the flow of conversation. After catching up with each other or sharing basic details about who you are, whatever is going on in the world is a natural segue and there's no shortage of goings-on. Read up on the latest in current events, pop culture, sports, and business.
DRY CLEAN AT HOME
When a date calls for nicer clothes, don't feel compelled to buy a new outfit or send one to the cleaner. With products such as Dryel, you can dry clean clothing in a home dryer and net significant savings compared with using a professional service.
Plenty of people get a little jittery before a date, especially if it's a first encounter. Feeling relaxed and being in a good mental place is the foundation for a successful night with someone who makes your heart flutter. Try a calming yoga sequence before getting ready -- there are free instructional videos online.
DO A DIY FACIAL
Looking to spruce up before a date? Set aside time for a DIY facial at home with ingredients that are likely to be on hand. Simple kitchen staples such as apple cider vinegar, bananas, and eggs are all it takes to prepare for face time with a special someone.
USE STORE SAMPLES
Anyone who likes to get dolled up but is aghast at the price of upscale cosmetics can get the look without spending a dime. Before a big date -- especially on the fly after work -- head to a cosmetics or department store and apply samples of favorite brands. It's often possible to score free makeup to stash away for later by attending in-store events and finding online giveaways.
DON'T OVERDO THE HAIR
When it comes to hair, it's easy to do a 'do without spending a lot on products or a trip to the salon. There are scores of YouTube videos and online tutorials for styling hair that call for little more than a hair binder and a handful of bobby pins. No need to bother with a last-minute haircut.
APPLY A SWEET SCENT
Cologne and perfume are little luxuries that tend to get used up pretty quickly. Freshen up before a date without buying yet another bottle of a favorite scent by rummaging through the kitchen or bathroom cabinet. Essential oils are all the rage in some quarters for curing minor ailments, and a drop or two of a variety such as lavender or orange oil smells sweet, fresh, and natural.
PICK UP PROVISIONS
If the plan includes drinks, save big bucks by not drinking (or not drinking too much) at a bar, club, or restaurant where prices are at a premium. Choose a BYOB establishment -- or invite your date to imbibe in the comfort of home, if that's where you want the night to go. Check for sales at the local liquor store or supermarket in advance of the big night and grab a bottle of a good budget wine, six-pack of beer, or favorite spirit, such as rum or whiskey.
TAKE ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTATION
Getting to the date is the most essential -- and last -- prep to go through. Instead of driving or taking a cab, use public transit or call a ride-share service. Avoiding the costs of parking and fuel leaves more to spend on the fun part.