Tips for cheap, enjoyable dates on a budget

Riley Youngman

So Valentine’s Day is coming up, and you may be thinking to yourself, “Crap. How am I going to afford rent, X-Box live, beer, my monthly supply of ramen AND a gift and date for my significant other (others? I don’t judge) this year?!”

Fret not worried Beavers, I’m here to help. Follow my advice and you will have a Valentine’s Day that will leave your wallet happy, and your date at least somewhat satisfied (results not guaranteed).

Trial Memberships. Take advantage of those.

All you need is a debit or credit card, or a friend’s you can “borrow.” You can’t Netflix and chill without Netflix, but a monthly subscription to the streaming site can add up in the end. However, you can sign up for a month long free trial, which can be cancelled at any point before the month is up and you will not be charged a penny.

What a deal.

The same applies for Spotify premium. If you need some sensual tunes to help set the mood for the night, but don’t feel like forking over the cash, you don’t have to. Just make sure you remember to cancel your memberships before you end up getting billed.

Now let’s talk about food. Sure, you could go to some fancy restaurant with tablecloths and candles and good food, but at the end of the night, what’s the major difference between that and McDonalds?

Both will fill you up, and you won’t have to sit through an hour of boring conversation with your date at McDonalds waiting for food.

Stay away from the guacamole if you end up at your local burrito joint. That stuff costs extra, so don’t even think about it. Plus there’s a chance you may end up in the hospital with a gnarly case of food poisoning, which is not cheap.

Sometimes you’ve simply got champagne tastes on a beer budget. I get that. That’s what the bottom shelf at the liquor store is for. I’m speaking literally and metaphorically here.

Whatever you’re buying, buy the cheapest choice possible. Name brand products are for snobby, pompous jerks.

If you decide to have dinner at home, make sure to turn the lights down low and use candles. This will save you money on your power bill. Plus you won’t have to clean as hard because your date won’t be able to see the mess around them. Win-win.

Gifts: do you have to buy them? Absolutely not.

Should you buy them? That depends.

If you’re trying to make a good impression, you may want to supply your date with a gift of some sort. Guys, my personal favorite recommendation is inspired by an Andy Samberg/Justin Timberlake “Saturday Night Live” video that I cannot name here involving a box, but you know what it is. Granted, sometimes that may not be the best way to make a first impression.

Women love chocolate, especially on Valentine’s Day, which is why I keep cheap Halloween candy stockpiled in my pantry. Nothing says “I love you” more than a ghost-shaped, four-month-old Reese’s peanut butter cup.

When buying flowers, look for the oldest, nearest death-looking bouquet you can find, and then demand you get a discount for it because they look so bad. Chances are, the florist will either tell you to just buy a different bouquet or you will land one heck of a deal. Any flower you buy will die at some point, so why delay the inevitable? Especially when you can save a few bucks.

Is your date someone you have been seeing for a while now? You could put in even less effort if so. Buy them a card, but don’t go toward the expensive ones the store will try to sell you. If you search around long enough, you’ll find the $0.99 cards in the back. Get the first one you see. They all say the same thing. Just sign the card, put in an envelope and you’re good to go.

And for all you guys out there, it’s 2016. Women should be able to pay for dates as well. In fact, it’s sexist to assume that women can’t or shouldn’t pay for a date, and equality is groovy. But for those of you who don’t quite feel comfortable asking your date to pay, you can always pull the classic, “Oh no, I forgot my wallet” move, followed by staring into their eyes pathetically. It’s a cliché, but it works.

Should you take pride in being a cheap date? Of course. I like to believe it portrays you are financially responsible and will be able to provide for your future family. And there’s nothing sexier than that.

But if you want the absolute cheapest holiday ever, pay very close attention to what I’m about to say: When you wake up on Valentine’s Day, go to your front door, and lock it. Go back to bed, turn off your phone, and simply cry yourself back to sleep as you contemplate your existential loneliness. That doesn’t cost anything.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The opinions expressed in Youngman’s column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Barometer staff.

[email protected]