Money is tight for everyone these days but there’s no need for romance to suffer because of (lack of) finances. ESSENCE.com checked in with real people just like you and discovered that sometimes, love really doesn’t have to cost a thing. Read on to get tips for you and your (potential) beau on spending quality time without breaking the bank.
Name: Mikasha, with hubby Wade
Hometown: District Heights, Maryland
“Because I got laid off from the government, money has been tight.
So we made a promise that money is not the way to show love. We cook our rendition of our favorite take-out like Chinese food. We have game night sometimes and invite other couples. Fridays are pizza and movie night. We make our own pizza and the kids get a cartoon movie and we get a movie for us. It saves a lot and we have a great time.”
Name: Cortney Ricketts
Occupation: International Sales
Hometown: Bloomfield, Connecticut
“Living and working in New York City, there are plenty of album, magazine and launch parties. I find inviting a new male friend to free cocktails and hors d’oeurves is frugal and allows me to see if he can practice restraint . . . with drinking! There are always first Friday celebrations in most cities to listen to music, go to lectures and enjoy art museums.”
Name: Tahesha Urie, with boyfriend Robert Atkins
Occupation: Programmer Analyst
Hometown: New York City
“My boyfriend and I are in a long-distance relationship, so we make it work during this recession by cutting travel costs whenever possible. We use to fly to see one another from New York to Virgina, but now we found a bus that is half the cost. For date nights we go to matinees or rent movies online. We also check circulars to see which DVDs are on sale that week.”
Name: Nicole Simone Ryan
Occupation: Event Coordinator and Student
Hometown: Cape Town, South Africa
“It’s true that during this time it’s been hard to make ends meet, let alone date! One activity that has actually worked out is attending free movie screenings at my University. Right now they are on political issues which aren’t “date movies”, but definitely gives us something intellectual to talk about afterward. I also was recently invited to a wedding as a guest! We danced, had dinner, drank and had a fabulous time. It didn’t cost me anything but to throw on my best dress and stilettos."
Name: Brenda Hampton
Hometown: St. Louis
“My husband and I used to have date nights on every single Friday. The economy has definitely hit our pockets and we now have to save our “date” funds for those just-in-case something happens days. These days, our Friday evenings/nights are spent getting cozy with a book or with the latest DVD release. I’ve never read this many books in my life, nor watched as many movies as I do now. I can’t complain, though. Seeing my husband read is quite a thrill and his getting me to watch action movies is a joy too. We’ve been able to enhance intimate quality time together which has helped our marriage."
Name: Roland Hinds
Occupation: Medical Sales, Radio Show Host/Producer
Hometown: Santa Clarita, California
“Dating during this recession has truly changed the way I spend my money. Since I live in the Los Angeles area, there are a lot of opportunities to participate in free events, such as concerts and comedy shows. I’ve also joined a few sites, which notify me when there are things going on around the L.A. area. This allows me to determine whether I will go a medium fancy restaurant or regular restaurant with my date. This is during the dating stage, however if we are truly dating I will consider dinner at the house.”
Name: Ravi Windom
Occupation: CEO, The Wind Public Relations; Artistic Programmer, National Black Arts Festival
“I am single and am such the hopeless romantic with tons of ideas for dates. I’ll give one of them to deserving couples. Spend a night in with your honey by creating a night of artistic expression. Get either two decent sized blank canvas pieces or a canvas pad of tear out sheets, which you can find at art stores and Wal-mart. Get some inexpensive paints, like watercolors, or my favorite, the small squeeze paint that is used for clothing, and challenge your date in a paint off where they have to create their own artistic interpretation of you.”
Name: Narcisa Miller, with boyfriend Mugabe
Occupation: Student/After-school Teacher
“Hard times are affecting everyone. My love Mugabe and I are not any different. We are very involved in our community and local church. We also attend church concerts and local community events.”
Occupation: Web content manager/writer
Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia
“I have been pretty fortunate to run into men that pick up the tabs when I go out on dates. This is always good, but I never try to abuse or take advantage of anyone’s kindness. If my date does suggest a pricey night on the town—dinner at the Ritz of Georgetown, tickets to a Kennedy Center play—I almost always say, well, let’s do this . . . for starters—coffee, museum, matinee movie, bowling, even a workout at my local gym. Pricey dates are nice, but sometimes a caramel frappuccino and “small talk” is all you really need to make a great date!”
Name: Charlemagne Moore
Occupation: Volunteer Management Coordinator
Hometown: Decatur, Georgia
“We rent movies or check them out at the library. They have a pretty good and recent selection. We go bowling at Pinstrikes on $2 Thursdays where everything is $2, including hot dog with fries, shoe rental, games, laser tag, etc. We play pool at a local bar, where it’s free before 8 or 9 and then after it’s only $1 per game. Some nights we have spades and card games and snacks with a lot of friends over and we rotate homes. Some nights we play each other in Scrabble and cook dinner.”
Name: Rhonda McAlister
Occupation: Customer Service Rep
Hometown: St. Louis
“Dating is quite different. I am 38 years young and my Boo is 50 years wonderful. We mostly cook dinner at home and stay in. I have DirecTv so we can watch the sports games or request a movie for $4.99 plus tax rather than paying $9.75 each to go to a movie. I normally have girl’s nights, as well. Those have gone from once a week to every other month. We mostly do a lunch now and bring out the coupons!”
Name: Sarita Shepherd, with boyfriend Abram
Occupation: Operations Management
Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama
“Abram and I have been dating for about two years. We definitely used to spend a lot of money going out. We love going to the movies, comedy shows, bars/clubs, going to dinner, shopping and theme parks. On a typical Friday or Saturday night, Abram would spend $200 on dinner and another $150 for drinks. Since the recession, I have been cooking more instead of going out to eat. Since we are not going out as often, we are spending more quality time, and we have more intimate conversations with each other. We got back to basics and it’s been nice.”
Occupation: Law School Admissions Coordinator & Hair Stylist
“Now that we are in a recession I am not living much different then when I was a college student; however I still make dating fun and frugal. I love to walk and the water, so going to the beach with a special someone is not only romantic but free. I also love to cook, so I will offer to cook a meal for “a special guy” (not only am I saving money by using ingredients I already have in my kitchen, but I am also informing the lucky guy that in the future if he wants to ‘put a ring on it’ a nice meal will come with it."
Name:Lela M. Thomas
Occupation: High School Teacher
“A date night for me is usually at home with HD/cable television, a home-cooked meal, a hot bubble bath, and for dessert: romantic lingerie. You do not have to break the bank if you have true love. In fact, my relationship proved even stronger in the times of lack. When my significant other and I had to make a ham sandwich, small snacks, and pick up a cheap bottle wine—we often had a much better time. Therefore, my advice is, make the most of whatever your financial situation can afford, don’t stress, and use this time to grow.”
Be sure to check out page 82 in the April 2009 issue of ESSENCE for more fun and sexy dating on a dime tips.
How have you cut costs while dating during this recession?