How Much Should You Spend On A First Date?


How much should you spend on a first date? Our recommendation will keep your wallet safe while helping you find a great girl.

We weighed in on the age-old, controversial topic “Who should pay?” with an earlier article – in short, we think the guy should pay because it gives him more useful information about his date than if he chooses not to and saves his him money in the long run. Now, since we’re assuming we guys are paying, we’ll give our perspective on how much money we should spend on the first date.

Also, to be clear, we recommend going on a Time Limited Coffee Date (TLCD) before going on a “proper” first date. On TLCDs, buying yourself and her a drink shouldn’t cost more than $10 US, even less is better. Keep it simple, keep it inexpensive, keep it short.

Two big reasons:

  1. No use investing a lot of time, energy, money and emotion in a stranger who we may never see again. Sitting down over coffee for 45-75 minutes gives both parties tons of information that they’ll use to decide whether or not to send / accept any more date offers.
  2. By keeping TLCDs and dates 1-10 inexpensive, it will anger and drive away gold-diggers + other women with nefarious plans for you bank account. Save the more involved and expensive plans for girls who you’ve put through the screening process

From the first proper date after the TLCD about the 10th or 11th date, we recommend keeping it under $20-$30 a date. This might get a little tricky, as we also recommend including a fun, exciting activity AND a meal while planning dates.

So how do we keep things within budget those first ten dates?

Activities: keep the activities free / cheap. Here’s a slightly less personal list of the activities we recommend for the first ten dates: frisbee, badmitton, ping-pong, billiards, darts, ice skating, arcades / game centers, playing catch, batting cages, putt-putt golf and the driving range. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any skill in these things – if she’s into you, it’ll be hilarious and fun anyway.

Meals: if the activities are free, then it should be easier to keep the meal portion in the $10-20 for two range. Here’s an extremely personal, subjective list of the kinds of meals I like for those first ten dates: sandwiches (about $10 for two), picnic (goes good with free activities like frisbee, groceries for picnic food can be between $5-20), or ice cream (although it’s not a proper ‘meal’ it still serves the same function on a date, about $5-15 depending on the store).

If she’s generous, she’ll offer to pitch in. Accept and let her from the second date on if she offers, but NEVER assume she will. Always bring enough cash for your date plan for both yourself and the girl. One way to let her pay is this:

You: (Paying for an activity or meal)

Her: Oh! How much?

You: Don’t worry, I got it.

Her: Really?! Thanks!

You: You can buy me a new car next time. (She probably laughs) Or, you can get the next meal. That works too.

Her: Ok!

After the 10th date or so, it’s up to you and your budget on how much you spend on date. If she’s proven over the course of several months that she’s totally into, she has a great core personality that matches with yours, and continues to bring her A-Game to every date, then occasionally taking her out for an expensive dinner or giving her a gift is probably ok. Until then, run a tight ship.

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Alex Wise served over 5 years as relationship expert helping women from around the world figure out the men in their love lives from an honest, male perspective. Alex is one of the contributors and editors for dating website. He is passionate about thought leadership writing, and regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and online dating communities.