Saving money is a skill that you can apply in several areas of your life, but when it comes to dating and relationships, you could be sabotaging your date with your frugal ways. It's impressive that you can maintain a budget and find the best deals in the city at any given moment, but your date could be far from impressed when those habits make you look cheap on date night. Clearly, there's a fine line between being creatively frugal and just being cheap.
Here are a few ways to manage that budget for date night without coming across as cheap.
Eating at a Restaurant
If you're creatively frugal: You'll take your date somewhere you can experience authentic food. Many ethnic food spots with the highest ratings are actually small, hole-in-the-wall joints that offer budget-friendly menus. It might take some digging to find them, but it will be worth every dollar spent.
If you're being cheap: You'll take your date to the nearest fast-food chain. And you might even encourage ordering off the value menu.
What's the difference? Taking the time to seek out new and unique restaurants shows that you put some thought into planning the date -- and that cost wasn't the only thing that came to mind when choosing the dining destination.
Using Coupons on a Date
If you're creatively frugal: You'll tell your date beforehand that you spent some time coming up with date ideas and found a coupon for a place or activity that you might both enjoy.
If you're being cheap: You'll only pick restaurants that have coupons or specials running that week and argue with the waiter if they fail to honor the deal.
What's the difference? You chose the restaurant or activity before you figured out the cost. This shows you put some thought into date night and weren't just looking for the cheapest option available.
Date Night at Home
If you're creatively frugal: You'll cook your date's favorite meal from scratch and offer at least one expensive item, such as wine or dessert. You could set up your dining area like a restaurant, complete with candles, lights and soft music playing in the background.
If you're being cheap: You'll throw on some sweats, order pizza, watch something on Netflix and call it a night.
What's the difference? Date night at home doesn't have to be an excuse to cut corners and be lazy. Going to the trouble of hosting a romantic evening at home shows your partner that you care, and you're willing to make an effort for him or her.
Bringing a Gift
If you're creatively frugal: You bring just one of her favorite exotic flowers or make a homemade card with a thoughtful message inside.
If you're being cheap: You show up empty-handed or pick up something random from the convenience store at the last minute.
What's the difference? You show your date you care with simple actions. Paying attention to what they like and appreciate will make them appreciate you even more.
Deciding to Go Dutch
If you're creatively frugal: You'll ask in advance if your date would be willing to chip in for that special evening, especially if you are planning to go to a concert or have dinner at a fancy restaurant. You might let your date know that you really want to share the experience with him or her, even though it's a little out of your budget range at the moment. You could even look up the menu or ticket prices to get a fair idea of how much the evening will cost both parties so you know what to expect.
If you're being cheap: You won't say anything in advance and suddenly tell your date you want to split the cost when the check arrives. Or you just sit in silence when nobody reaches for the check when it arrives.
What's the difference? Asking in advance shows you are taking your date into consideration while planning the evening and haven't overlooked the cost aspect of the night. It's a courtesy that your date won't forget and can make the evening go more smoothly if you're both on a tight budget. Plus, establishing expectations beforehand can eliminate any awkwardness during the date.
Sabah Karimi is a columnist for the blog Wise Bread, where you can find consumer tips like how to select the best balance transfer credit cards.