While singles in other countries scramble to download Tinder in the run-up to Valentines’ Day, in Singapore this happens a little earlier thanks to Chinese New Year and the nosy aunties the season brings.
Now, the prospect of finding lurve is already daunting enough without the thought of how expensive it can get, especially in Singapore where dinner and drinks can easily set you back over $100 if the treat’s on you.
Assuming you’re not a sweet young thing in search of a sugar daddy, here are three tips that can help you ensure dipping your toes into the dating pool doesn’t make you too poor.
Be yourself so you don’t attract materialistic people
I often hear Singaporean guys complaining about how materialistic their female counterparts are. But seriously, based on the number of guys who humblebrag about their lucrative jobs, show off their flashy cars and spend huge amounts of money on the first few dates, I can only say that they’re asking for it.
If you’re the kind of person who balks at spending more than $10 on a meal, taking your date to Cut by Wolfgang Puck on the first date is asking for trouble. If you want to meet someone whose spending habits and expectations mirror your own, you’ve got to first be true to yourself, instead of chickening out and falling into that very Singaporean trap of trying to “act rich”.
Think it’s ridiculous to spend exorbitant amounts on a date? Then say so. If you’re going out with someone whose lifestyle you can’t afford to keep up with, it’s better to know right away.
Time your dates so you avoid mealtimes
If you’re just getting to know a person, it’s totally reasonable to not want to spend your life savings trying to impress them.
And guess what, that classic evening of a dinner and drinks is one of the most expensive mistakes you can make, unless you’re planning to have an oyster omelette and Tiger Beer extravaganza at a kopitiam (in which case, he/she is a keeper).
To avoid spending a bomb and also give yourself the ability to terminate the date should it go awry, it’s smart to get your date to meet you before or after key mealtimes—say, 3pm just after lunch and before dinner, or 8:30pm after dinner. That way, you get to skip the cheesiness (and the cost) of the candlelit dinner in favour of a quick drink.
Of course, if things go well you’re free to extend the date. But if they don’t, you can always use the “other plans” exit strategy.
Focus on your common interests instead of eating and shopping
I have a friend who, for the entire duration of a four year relationship, spent every weekend with her boyfriend shopping at Orchard Road and having dinner at restaurants afterwards. Not only is that expensive, it’s also the sort of thing that’ll have you in a counselor’s office in a few years’ time wondering how to “put the spark back into” your relationship.
Instead of always defaulting to the usual cafe hopping/drink at a bar/brunch/lunch/dinner formula, focus on your common interests instead. This can often be cheaper than just consuming food and drinks everywhere you go. It also helps you feel more connected to your date, which means major brownie points.
If you and your date are the sporty sort, spend the day at the swimming pool, running your own crazy half-marathon, at the tennis court or jumping from the tops of buildings parkour-style. Whatever it is, it’s probably going to be cheaper than checking out yet another up-and-coming restaurant in the CBD area.
Okay, so maybe your date’s hobbies are a little too bizarre for you to comfortably participate in… we get that body modification and tarantula-collecting aren’t for everyone.
If you’re going to make it as a couple you’ve got to have some similar inclinations or interests, so explore those and hopefully you’ll find some less expensive (and less boring) ways to spend your evenings and weekends.
How do you date on a budget? Tell us in the comments!