It's important to know how with rising costs of living. How do you date economically in 2014?
- Cook dinner together. This requires (a) a presentable apartment with a well-stocked kitchen and (b) enough trust on your date's part to tramp up to your sixth floor walk-up on the wrong part of town. Oh, yeah, and (c) the ability to cook, since you don't want the other person to be calling all the culinary shots. Even when you add (d) a romantic bottle of wine, you'll have saved money over your typical bistro.
- Take a walk in the park. Just about every woman's online profile references "long, romantic walks in the park," so now's the time to call her bluff. Just be sure to schedule your stroll so it doesn't conclude too close to dinnertime in a part of town lined with fancy bars and restaurants.
- Go on a bike ride. This one is tricky, because it requires you to own a bike -- and owning a bike is tricky, because it requires you to own a helmet, kneepads, an annoying little "get out of my way!" bell, and all sorts of other doodads. However, if you already own a bike and all the accessories, and your date does too, a long bike ride won't cost you anything but calories.
- Rent an On Demand movie. Great line from The Simpsons' hack actor Troy McClure: "I've been reading a lot of scripts lately. It's a lot cheaper than actually going to the movies!" If you can convince your date to get over that sixth-floor-walkup thing, watching a Netflix movie or On Demand release can be a great way to snuggle up and get to know one another.
- Flash a coupon. Think about it: If a restaurant really wanted you to use that 25%-off coupon, would they demand that you show it to your waiter, in full view of your date, the instant you sit down? Still, coupons can be a good way to have your dating cake and eat it too, especially if you can wave them at the maitre d' when your gal pal isn't looking. (You can also be honest and suggest trying a particular restaurant because you happen to have the coupon. I don't recommend this, but some people insist it works.)
- Just have coffee and dessert. "It's romantic to share your food, and women love to linger over chocolate while gazing into their lovers' eyes," says relationship coach Kathy Stafford. Of course, the tricky part about this is how one goes about scheduling a coffee-and-dessert date without actually having dinner.