How Much Should you Spend on the First Date?

Who Should Pay for the First Date – Taken to the Next Level

One of the most heated discussions elicited from any post EVER on 20somethingfinance came as a result of an analysis I did on who should pay for the first date.

Regardless of what your take on that controversial topic is, the next question to arise is “how much should you spend on the first date?”.

The First Date: Hard to Break Away from the Social Norm

how much should you spend on the first date

Here’s the thing about first dates. It’s hard to break away from the traditional dinner and a movie, or dinner and some form of entertainment since it has become such a social norm. On the second, third, or fourth date, and so on, I think it’s completely acceptable, in my opinion, to break free from that social norm and go for a long hike, a bike ride, cook at home, or do something that is usually free.

But I don’t know that you’d want to break too far away from the social norm on the first date just to save a few bucks. If you break free for other reasons, so be it, but being frugal for the sake of being frugal can wait until another day.

That being said, is it possible to spend too little?

Spending Too Little – Frugal Vs. Overly Cheap

Since we’re all value-rich personal finance stewards, I’m going to assume that there are few people that would set a lower limit on how much you should spend on the first date. That would just be shallow, after all, right?

Not so fast. There are social norms, and if you’re going to partake in them, the hot dog stand and the dollar theater combo is probably not the way to go.

Spending Too Much on the First Date: The Downsides

On the other end of the spectrum, I think it is possible to spend ‘too much’ on the first date. We’ll get into how much is ‘too much’ to spend in a bit… but there are some obvious drawbacks to spending TOO MUCH:

  • You’re setting bad expectations. The pressure is on to keep it up, regardless of who pays.
  • You are showing signs of reckless spending. Hey, if this is going to be something serious, why set that standard right away? It sends a bad message that you are careless about your spending.
  • Your motives might be questioned – in spending a lot on a first date, your motives might come into question by your date. You usually don’t want that, unless your goal is to not have a second date (if you catch my drift).
  • If you have a lot of first dates and don’t go far beyond, you could go broke real fast.

What is the ‘Perfect Amount’ to Spend on the First Date?

I’ve take too long to spit it out, so I’ll just get on with it now…

What is the perfect level at which you are spending neither too much nor too little on the first date?

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