The High Cost of Modern Love
Being in love is now more expensive than ever. In fact, Americans spend an average of $20,000 in their lifetime on dates. With dinner and a movie costing about $90, you could easily go broke if you date frequently.
We've covered some of the costs below so you can get a better idea of what modern love can cost. However, these are only national averages. The amount you pay for entertainment and impressing your date will vary largely depending on where you live.
Average Price: $8.51 per ticket
The worst part is that after spending money on movie tickets, you have to worry about buying popcorn, soda, candy, and other overpriced treats. For instance, if you decided to order one large popcorn, one large candy, and two small soft drinks, you could expect to spend around $22.25, in addition to the price of the movie tickets. Instead of doing dinner and a movie out, consider cooking at home and taking advantage of Netflix.
Average Price: $12.17–$88.00 per person
A 2015 study found that the cost of eating at a chain restaurant ranges from $12.17 to $88.00 per person, but it depends on where (and what) you eat. It also depends on where you live. For instance, Zagat found that diners in NYC spend an average of $48.44 per person when eating out, which is higher than the national average.
As an alternative, consider happy hour deals, taking advantage of restaurant week or local food festivals, or impressing your date with a home-cooked meal. You can either show off your cooking skills or cook together as a bonding experience.
Average Price: $46.69 per person
Concert tickets all depend on who you are going to see and which tickets you get (unobstructed or obstructed view). For instance, impressing your date with tickets to a Taylor Swift concert will set you back $110.15 a ticket.
Average Price: $105.68 a ticket
Now, this is only appropriate if you are really trying to impress your date. With an average ticket price of $105.68, Broadway shows should be saved for very special occasions. The price will depend on what you go to see. For instance, a ticket to Hamilton could cost $300, while a ticket to Jitney could be around $55.
Average Price: $10 an hour
If you have a child at home, you can expect to spend a hefty amount on a baby sitter. The average cost of a baby sitter, per hour, in New York City is $15+, so the price will vary depending on where you live, who you hire, and the agreement you set with the sitter. As an alternative, consider asking another parent to baby-sit your child for a night at no charge, and tell them you will return the favor later by baby-sitting their child for free.
Average Price: $92.50 per occasion
Once you find that special someone, you'll need to start worrying about the costs of gifts on special occasions. The average American spends only $25 per year on flowers, but can expect to spend an average of $146.84 on Valentine's Day gifts. Gifts for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions can take a hefty chunk out of your budget.
According to Huffington Post, Americans spend an average of $92.50 per special occasion on their new love. They also found that people spend an additional $21 on gifts for each additional year of their relationship.
Average Price: $0–$60 per month
Match.com is $41.99 per month, eHarmony.com is $60 per month, True.com is $50 per month, Tinder is free (unless you sign up for premium services, which range from $2.99–$34.99), and Bumble is free (again, unless you sign up for premium services, which range from $2.99–$35.99). You can save a lot of money by signing up for longer periods of time, like six or 12 months. Many dating sites, like Match.com, also offer free options with limited capabilities.
When it comes to dating sites and apps, there are distinct differences in the quality of the service and potential suitors, so cost shouldn't be your only factor. For instance, PlentyOfFish and OKCupid are free, but they don't offer the same matching abilities or photo quality as a service like Match or eHarmony. The people on PlentyOfFish also aren't usually as devoted to finding that special someone for life, as compared to someone on Match or eHarmony.
As an alternative, try meeting someone in real life. After all, only 5% of Americans in a marriage or committed relationship actually met their significant other online. Studies continue to show that couples most often meet each other through work, friends in common, or in social settings, so just put yourself out there more.
The Cost of "Ghosting"
Average Price: Your love life?
If you decide that the cost of dating sites is just too much, consider the cost to your love life if you disappear from the app completely. If you start "ghosting," it can end very badly. In fact, it often leads to even more confrontation than if you were just honest from the start. Take advantage of the sites and apps you subscribe to, while you still can.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you take your special someone on a horrible date, you risk getting "ghosted" yourself. Getting ignored can really take a toll on one's confidence and lead to hurt feelings, so observe the golden rule and avoid ghosting. Just remember, a good date doesn't have to be an expensive one. Take them somewhere meaningful, dress and act the part, and find ways to impress your date without going broke.
Alternative Date Ideas
Ask your date what they would like to do. Going to the movies and dinner can be fun, but most people have other ideas for a better date night. Here are some ideas to get you thinking.
- Go for a hike or walk through your area. Show your date some of your favorite areas.
- Get active with canoeing, miniature golfing, ice skating, rock climbing, paddle boating, paddle boarding, biking…the list goes on and on. Find out what your date is interested in and take advantage. It's cheaper, more meaningful, and can help you burn some calories.
- Visit a museum during the day and time when it is cheapest. Most museums offer free admission on a particular day of the week. You can observe some local culture and will have plenty to talk about with your date.
- Instead of going out for dinner, consider going out for coffee instead. After all, why spend something like $90 on a first date, when you're not even sure that they're worth dating long-term? With a coffee date, you can get to know each other in a more comfortable setting. A picnic is also ultraromantic, affordable, and memorable.
- Go dancing at a bar or take dance classes, which start as low as $12 per person.
- Go for a free wine or liquor tasting in your area.
- Take advantage of outdoor movie events (like free movies in the park).
- Take advantage of free local tours or free tour apps.
- Find a Groupon date that you both want to take advantage of. Give your date some options so they'll be able to pick what interests them most.
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