Have you ever picked up a date in a Reliant K? Politely asked the person across the table from you to only order from the “turf” options in a seafood restaurant? Slipped a coupon in with your credit card in the oh-so-stylish black notepads come bill time? Or perhaps you were fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of these frugal tactics. How did you feel about them?
Paul and I have had several discussions in our relationship about being frugal, saving money, and never paying full cost. Much to his surprise, I let him know that if he had used a coupon during any of our early dates I would have felt relieved and probably have taken him home to meet the parents even sooner (yes, when you are a frugal person going out on a date with a man who does such things as wearing expensive clothing, a flashy watch, and toting around the latest cell phone might actually turn you off, though Paul did not know this at the time).
But I am not like most people, and I realize that.
From some of the comments left over the last year, there seem to be several single men in the audience looking for ladies who are concerned that any acts in the name of frugality during the initial phase of a courtship may make women squeamish. So let’s open up this topic for discussion: why is it that flashing a coupon might turn someone off? I’ve given this a lot of thought over the last several months and I think the best way to illustrate this is to give you a glimpse into the female mind. Picture this: you are on a date with a guy whom you know hardly anything about. You need to figure out whether or not he is partner material (yes, women think light years ahead, even on that first date), and you would prefer to do so within the first half of this date if at all possible so that you can exit politely in order to find another date with greater potential for next Friday night. No matter if it’s right or wrong, moral or immoral, primal instincts dictate that the following would be most beneficial to you in a potential life partner: someone with a secure and stable job, someone who is on a career path of a profession he/she is passionate about, and someone who seems like they will be able to provide at least in an equal capacity as you. Since women have limited time and think deep into our futures on a daily basis, everything that you do during that first date becomes a sign or signal for us as we start to put a picture together about your life and whether or not we want to become a part of it. Just like it is a red flag for us that you still live with your parents, whipping out a coupon is typically a sign for “he doesn’t have money” and most women will want to bail.
In my opinion, the motive for the act of frugality is way more important to use in determination of red flags than the actual act of frugality itself. What I mean is, are you whipping out coupons at the burger joint because you have no money (and actually scheduled this date on your payday), or are you frugal at heart and saving money on this date means you can stash away yet more money into your savings? If you are frugal at heart, then you should be your true self and save money on your dates, but it would be a good idea to show that you are the latter guy and not the former. (If you are the former guy, the one who has no money and is woefully lost when it comes to finances, keep reading as you can still afford to send a good impression. However, please don’t mislead women about your weaknesses—they will eventually find out and this could lead to a mismatch for you).
How to be Frugal but Not Send the Wrong Message
If you are worried about sending the wrong signal during a date or embarrassed about your money situation, there are some ways around the handing-a-coupon-to-the-waiter approach. For one, you could choose a less expensive venue for your date and still be quite romantic and even demure. Cooking for a woman can be very romantic (green flag!), especially when candles are involved (just make sure you are not doing so in your mother’s kitchen—red flag). Packing a picnic basket with luxurious items like wine and strawberries can lead to a lovely afternoon. If you are eating at a restaurant and want to use a coupon, you can leave the coupon with the host or hostess in the front and see that it gets subtracted from your bill before you receive the check (you could even make these arrangements ahead of time). You could cash in on your reward points (from credit card, online surveys, health insurance companies, etc.) for a gift card and still be able to flash that plastic for the bill. Finally, who says you need to foot the bill on the first date or every date thereafter?
You Should Show Your True Colors
In the end, it all boils down to whom you are as a person and what you are looking for in a mate. Wouldn’t you rather show your true colors and find the right person for you than to be potentially partnered up with the wrong one? Dispute over money is one of the leading causes of divorce. By being frugal on your dates, you could snag another person who is frugal as well, which could save you monumental headaches in the future.
What are your thoughts on using coupons/being frugal on dates and how the opposite sex (or how you) would perceive that? Is your partner/boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse frugal, a spender, or somewhere in between?