Have you ever sat down to review your finances and realized just how much money you were spending on things like buying coffee and going out to dinner? It’s scary how quickly those charges add up—especially now since what used to be a manageable $4 latte is now close to $7 in the bougie coffee shops we love to frequent. Rising prices are not only affecting our budgets and choices, but they are affecting all aspects of our lives, including dating.
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According to a poll that Plenty of Fish conducted with its members, 43% of all singles are suggesting going on less expensive, budget-friendly dates due to inflation. And while we know that economic trends aren’t a sexy topic, infla-dating (going on less expensive dates due to inflation and the current economic environment) is changing the way that singles are dating, and we need to talk about how the heck to navigate the new scene.
So, we asked Plenty of Fish’s resident dating expert, Kate MacLean, to break down how you can make the most of your dating experience now that infla-dating has entered the chat.
Explore different places to meet people
I always used to say that I wanted to meet a guy the good old-fashioned way—like at a bar or a coffee shop—but since fewer people are spending their money at places like these, meet-cutes aren’t so easy to come by. The solution? Head out to affordable, or completely free places like parks, libraries, or community and volunteer events. Depending on the types of places you go to, you might be more likely to meet someone who is interested in the same things as you anyway. For example, you are less likely to meet someone in the wild who enjoys volunteering at animal shelters than you would be if you met someone while you were actually volunteering at an animal shelter too.
Suggest budget-friendly date ideas
“There are still so many options out there that can make dating fun and welcoming without breaking the bank,” says MacLean. Start to brainstorm free romantic date ideas now, so when it comes time to make plans with someone, you aren’t at a total loss for what to do or worried about how much money you have in your budget. Think about the things that you like to do on dates and come up with affordable alternatives. Do you enjoy going to concerts? Look for free live music events near you instead. Enjoy going out to eat? Learn how to make a new recipe at home together. “Budget-friendly dates can be more fun—and sometimes more meaningful—than those high-ticket date nights,” MacLean added.
Focus on your connection
Typical date spots like fancy restaurants and rooftop bars are not only costly, but they can be a little bit distracting (and loud) sometimes, making it hard to really measure your connection with someone. And while these date spots can feel special and fun, it’s not really about where you are but rather who you are with. Save your money and your time, and do something that is more low-cost and low-key. Meaningful infla-dating ideas can include setting up a picnic in a park, hosting a game night, or going for a hike. After all, MacLean says that “singles are looking for authentic connections, and you don’t need to spend a ton of money to make that connection,” says MacLean.
Don’t be afraid to mention your budget
Infla-dating aside, everyone is always trying to save money, so don’t be worried about coming off as a “cheap date” if you want to suggest a less expensive date idea or mention that you want to do something budget-friendly. “Look at it as an opportunity to get more creative with your date ideas,” says MacLean. The more care and attention you put into making it fun, the better it will be—cost aside. “Plus, if your date can’t see beyond the price tag, they probably aren’t the one for you anyways,” MacLean added.
Try a dating app
If you want to meet someone and you are having trouble doing so out and about or you are simply trying to stay in more often due to the rising costs of literally everything, try a dating app. “Dating apps are a great way to get to know someone without the pressure of immediately meeting up,” (and inevitably, spending money) says MacLean. There are plenty of dating apps (and dating app success stories) now, so download a few and see which one feels right for you.