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August 20, 2010 1:39 PM   Subscribe

How to be frugal and still be asked on dates Though saving and overall frugality are making a comeback in all areas of life, dating remains the one area where it is (probably) not acceptable to be cheap.
posted by The1andonly (42 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wish someone would take me and my boyfriend out on a date and pay for it, but I think that might be too frugal.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:48 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


“A young lady, rather good looking, and of good address, desires the acquaintance of a gentleman of wealth (none other need apply), with a view to matrimony,” the ad read.

“The advertiser, a successful young business man of good education, polite manners and agreeable address, having recently amassed a fortune and safely invested the same, wishes to meet with a young lady or widow,” one said.
Jesus, did T.S. Eliot have a side-career ghostwriting personal ads? Where's the next line, featuring Prufrock slumping in his chair and throwing the paper to the side in sexual despair?
posted by griphus at 1:53 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can see a New York Times editor pondering a Commerce Department press release about trends in personal savings account and wondering how to get people to read it as a news story. "Hmmmm... maybe if we put something it about how to get laid...?"
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:58 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would definitely be turned off by seeing "frugal" in someone's online dating profile. Not because it indicates "I'm not moneyed" or "I'm not willing to spend money on you." It's more the image of someone who is too cheap to have fun. If you think "frugal" is that big a part of your personality that you advertise yourself with it, I imagine you to be the kind of person who never turns on the air conditioning, always brings lunch from home, and never wants to go to the movies because "we could just rent a movie and watch it here".

I like going out to eat. I like going to the movies. I love air conditioning! I like things that cost less too, but I would worry that someone who chiefly identifies as "frugal" is going to be too stingy to do the things I like to do, or worse, they'll make me feel guilty about how I spend my money. In short, they sound like a drag.

This doesn't mean I don't like frugality as a quality in a person. But if it's a major part of how they self identify, it kind of signals to me that we're not gonna have fun together.
posted by almostmanda at 1:59 PM on August 20, 2010 [18 favorites]


How to Be Frugal and Still Be Asked on Dates

If you're being asked on a date it's not your concern to be frugal. It's the concern of the person asking.

Has the entire world forgotten their manners?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:01 PM on August 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Instead of saying I'm frugal, I'd just say that I believe in equality of the sexes, and thus my date would (should) not be surprised when I let her pick up the bill.
posted by elder18 at 2:03 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Waiter, bring me my bill.....9 dollars and 40 cents? Thats an outrage!"
(turns to date)
"If I were you I wouldn't pay it."

--Groucho Marx "Night at the Opera"
posted by storybored at 2:06 PM on August 20, 2010 [12 favorites]


I hate this crap.

Ok, this may only be my opinion, but the "frugality isn't sexy" deal implies woman are only looking for money and we're still under some feudal age conventions that suggest a woman should stay far away from a guy who doesn't have a comfortable living to fall back on.

If you take a woman out on a date, pay for it. It's not an example of your earning power or monetary sense, it's just damn chivalry and it's not going away any time soon. If you don't have money and half to be "frugal," a woman (in my experience) is not going to be offended if you have her come to your apartment for a home cooked meal. Hell, I bet she may even be impressed. A bike ride and a picnic ain't such a bad idea, either.

The problem is a woman would, rightfully so, be offended if a guy is like "wait, don't get another soda/chardonnay. I'm only paying for one," because that's just poor manners. If someone offered dinner with stipulations, it's not really the way to go. Also, when you say, "Where do you want to eat?" If he/she is the type that says 5 star when it is well apparent you're working a $8 an hour job, that's impolite, as well.

I'm sorry, I may have missed the point of the article, but maybe my preconceived notions made me read this as a suggestion the dating scene is some sort of test of long-term capability.

"Frugality" is far from a deal breaker unless it takes the form of bad manners, then it's a sign of immaturity (a big turn off, I can assure you). Women, if they are thinking long term when they are with a guy, are looking more at "Is he mature and does he actually give a shit about me?" They obviously don't want a guy who's neck deep in plastic debt, but again, that's a sign of immaturity. The small minority of women who are overly concerned about his financial circumstance don't speak for the rest.

And the author of this article is a clueless nincompoop who obviously had rich parents. Yeah, he was the one who wrote a book suggesting high school and college grads take a year off in their young adulthood.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 2:08 PM on August 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


I think frugality depends on having a decent amount of money but not being willing to spend it, which is different from being poor. No one would accuse a poor person of being stingy because they seek out bargains, but a wealthy person who seeks out bargains is frugal. And I think given the choice between dating a frugal person and a poor person, I would choose the poor person, because then it's not necessarily a personality trait.

(On the other hand, maybe I'm just projecting.)
posted by Dr. Send at 2:09 PM on August 20, 2010


This doesn't mean I don't like frugality as a quality in a person. But if it's a major part of how they self identify, it kind of signals to me that we're not gonna have fun together.

Actually, I think this is what I was going for. It's like people who proudly declare themselves a "loner." It's like, "Oh, should I go find someone else to talk to, then?"
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 2:11 PM on August 20, 2010


Jesus, did T.S. Eliot have a side-career ghostwriting personal ads?

"In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
(No fatties.)"
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:12 PM on August 20, 2010 [29 favorites]


Dinner is usually a horrible way to spend a first date (second only to a movie), so I ended up going on early-ish dates during happy hour at nice places. Here in Seattle, Umi has an AMAZING happy hour from 4-8PM Mon-Fri. It's way more casual/relaxed and you won't go broke.
posted by lattiboy at 2:13 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


And I think given the choice between dating a frugal person and a poor person, I would choose the poor person...

I would choose the one with the better personality who has more regard for my well-being, but that's just me.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 2:15 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


There's a difference between poor, frugal and cheap. I don't mind people who save money and try to be wise about how they spend it. I also have no issues if someone is poor and doesn't overextend themselves. But cheap I don't have the time of day for.
posted by micawber at 2:15 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]



This doesn't mean I don't like frugality as a quality in a person. But if it's a major part of how they self identify, it kind of signals to me that we're not gonna have fun together.


Exactly. Some people enjoy saving money more than they enjoy anything the money could possibly be spent on. These are not fun people to have with you on an outing of any kind.
posted by corey flood at 2:19 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Awesome! This is just what I've been waiting for!

*scans article*

... er – where's the part where you tell me how to be asked on dates?
posted by koeselitz at 2:34 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Frugal schmugal, I'd just like to get asked out on a date.
posted by Relay at 2:34 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's more the image of someone who is too cheap to have fun.

That's pretty close to my image of the word "frugal," too, based on the people I've known who self-identify that way. And I say that as someone who eats leftovers for lunch more often than not. So I'd worry if I saw that in a person's ad, but I'd want to know more -- joyless miser? or astute with financial priorities?
posted by Forktine at 2:35 PM on August 20, 2010


where's the part where you tell me how to be asked on dates?

This is at the very end of the article. Apparently you have to mention that you have your funds invested with Vanguard. It helps if you are dating a financial planner, because at least one thinks that is "sexy." But don't mention your asset allocation too early—very crass.
posted by grouse at 2:39 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I have found in my years of dating is that people who are financially unstable tend to be the hardest on themselves, which is a huge turn-off. Even if I'm willing to pick up a tab or pay for something nice, they feel like making their short-term tragedies my business by turning me into the therapist and listen to their money 'problems' while on a night out.
Hey, in the long run I end up saving money, strangely enough. You learn to live frugally yourself with only a few bursts of spending on nice things. If only to find another that lives this way as well....
posted by hillabeans at 2:51 PM on August 20, 2010


The passive voice in the headline is odd.
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:58 PM on August 20, 2010


code for: "likes romantic walks in the park"
posted by ovvl at 2:58 PM on August 20, 2010


I co-wrote a blog for a year called Frugal Culture, where I stressed over and over that frugality wasn't not spending money, but paying attention to whether your spending is serving your values and goals.

I'm not looking but if I were, anyone ruling me out for describing myself as frugal would be doing us both a favor.
posted by Zed at 3:02 PM on August 20, 2010 [12 favorites]


Am I the only one who instantly associates the word "frugal" with The Frugal Gourmet? The only thing it brings to mind, for me, is delicious, home-made food.

...also gay sexual harassment charges, but that's neither here nor there.
posted by griphus at 3:57 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Frugal really just means that one doesn't need to spend money frivolously, saving money perhaps being the underlying goal. It's a good idea to save money, since the future is uncertain.

Being frivolous with money is attractive, since it gives the impression that the potential mate is financially secure. Obviously, with the invention of credit, this isn't the case, spending frivolously just means you're not very good with money.


But after a few drinks, who cares? Right? Right.

Personally, money really equates to, "Plane ticket I haven't purchased, yet". Everything else seems to be gotten in life, in whatever change is in my slim wallet. Finding a potential mate ain't gonna change that. And anyways, "dates" - the fuck are those? It's 2010.
posted by alex_skazat at 4:07 PM on August 20, 2010


I would worry that someone who chiefly identifies as "frugal" is going to be too stingy to do the things I like to do, or worse, they'll make me feel guilty about how I spend my money. In short, they sound like a drag.


I think almostmanda hit the nail on the head right out of the gate.

I have what I refer to as Depression-era housewife tendencies. I reuse foil and ziploc bags, obsessively plan creative uses for leftovers, and neatly wrap and refrigerate half onions and chunks of cabbage and single radishes. I'm a whiz with brown rice and huge piles of lovely, cheap, nutritious leafy greens. I make huge batches of dried beans and spaghetti sauce, save bones for stock, and know dozens of ways to make a single boneless chicken breast (that I very likely cut off the whole chicken myself) feed two people. Whenever I can make dinner just from the lovingly saved odds and ends in my fridge and freezer, I feel like I basically won the universe.

I do these things because I enjoy the tactical challenge and so that when I go to dinner somewhere fantastic, I can spend my the money I saved not buying prepared foods or ordering takeout on a luxurious prix fixe menu and not bat an eyelash. I love buying rounds of drinks for my friends, having my hair done by a fancy stylist, and belonging to my favorite winery's wine club. Nobody can afford to spend maximum money on everything. Knowing where to spend and where to save is a recipe for happiness and contentment.

It's crucial to have similar financial values to your partner. But surely there are more elegant, not to mention sexy, ways of navigating the "who picks up the check" question than this guy's unnecessarily sexist approach. Being ungenerous, getting more pleasure from pinching pennies than you'll ever get from spending them, and, worst of all, starting any article about dating by hauling out a tired old trope about how obsessed women are with the monetary worth of potential partners is a recipe for being lonely.
posted by mostlymartha at 4:36 PM on August 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


Hey, big spender!
Spend ... a little time with ... me!
posted by bwg at 4:37 PM on August 20, 2010


Yeah, frugal suggests ungenerous and ungenerous is not what people want in a partner. Certainly, people don't want people who spend crazily, but if you want a relationship, suggesting that you value money more than people isn't a good way to start and isn't a good thing to project.
posted by Maias at 4:44 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


In all seriousness, dating somebody frugal would probably be good for me (in a perhaps it would rub off on me) way, but as important as I think "like minded in money manners" is important for a successful long term relationship, I think bringing ANY sort of money issues up in the first few dates -- let alone pre-meeting -- would be an instant turn-off.

Though a life built together is going to require all kinds of money issues, to bring them up early makes it seem even more like a business transaction than mate searching already often feels. I think it's important that money not be an issue, so to make it an issue so prevalently, I'd be instantly turned off/on my guard.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:47 PM on August 20, 2010


eHarmony...where you may or may not be frugal, but you darn well better not be atheist.
posted by acoutu at 4:57 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'd take someone who identified as "budget-savvy" over "frugal" in a heartbeat.

That having been said, one of the best early dates I've ever been on was to the zoo. There's lots of opportunities to talk, lots of great conversation starters (baby meerkats!), and while the food is overpriced, it's not expensive. It was also a great opportunity, for me, to see if the guy was flexible in what he was willing to consider fun; I'm not interested in dating someone who's Too Cool for the Zoo, you know?

Between parking, admission, lunch, and crazily overpriced ice cream, I think the total cost of the date for both of us was under $40. Considering that neither of us had to get dressed up, that's a steal. It'd be cheaper now, but that's only because I married the guy and now we have a joint membership.
posted by KathrynT at 5:00 PM on August 20, 2010


mostlymartha - I wish I could favorite that comment a million times over.

I'm not obsessed with saving money, but at the end of my life I don't want the accountant in the sky to give me a rundown of how much I spent on paper towels during my lifetime and then laugh at me telling me I could have used that money for something really fantastic - like a car.

Frugality is more picking and choosing what you want to spend your money on. I'd rather not spend it on paper towels and instead on a new tv.
posted by Sassyfras at 5:18 PM on August 20, 2010


spending frivolously just means you're not very good with money.

I'm not sure I agree with that. It depends on your definition of "frivolous", I guess, but you cna have enough money to both save it and spend it on completely unnecessary, possibly overpriced things. In that case, you're not really "bad with money", you just place a different value on spending now vs saving for later. If you're in debt (and have the money to not be in debt if you chose) then I'd probably agree it means you're not good with money.

Someone unwilling (not unable, thats a different matter) to spend money on silly unnecessary things would almost certainly not get along with me, so I'd avoid people who made being Serious with their money a priority.

But again this all gets complicated, because as others have pointed out most of this language only makes sense for relatively well-off people. That being said, in my experience many people who grew up / spent most of their life without money do have a hard time spending it "frivolously" even if things change drastically for them later in life. Not a bad thing, but again it can be a personality clash which can be problematic in relationships.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:19 PM on August 20, 2010


Frguality means being careful with what you spend on yourself. It only makes sense if you spend the money you save on other people.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 5:37 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's true. When people ask me how I manage to save money, I just point at my ugly face and say, "this bad boy".
posted by planet at 9:23 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


No one quoted in this article considered the possibility that a frugal man is a less desirable mate than a frugal woman because frugality generally means not spending frivolously -- and women's spending is more likely to be seen as frivolous. I suspect that men probably think of a frugal woman as someone who doesn't spend money on herself; women think of a frugal man as someone who will not only not spend money on his partner but may make her feel guilty for spending her own money.
posted by transona5 at 10:00 PM on August 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Being dirt-poor I definitely understand the necessity of being frugal, but I don't know if I would jump on someone who self-identified as such. I've been on enough bad dates with self-identified frugal people to know it is code for "Selfishly cheap" and "You drive over here for the tenth time in a row because I don't feel like paying for public transit."
posted by schroedinger at 10:13 PM on August 20, 2010


My ex-husband was so frugal (How frugal was he....?) he wouldn't buy a paperback copy of the latest Star Trek Next Gen series (the only books he would read, by the way), about $4.99 at the time. Instead, he'd read a few pages whenever we were at the bookstore at the mall. Now that's frugal. Did I mention he's my ex?
posted by pips at 11:18 PM on August 20, 2010


This reminds me of a first date that didn't go well. I was 19, he was much older. A mutual friend gave him my number because it turned out we both worked in the same building; he was upstairs in city hall, I was downstairs in the city library. He called and asked if I wanted to go to lunch, and I accepted.

We met and walked to his car and then we drove to a city park a few blocks away. He pulled out a couple of sandwiches from a brown bag and we sat in his car, looking at the park. That was our first, and last, date. It might have worked had he been charismatic, handsome, interesting, or funny but I remember that he was dull, average, and boring.

Looking back as a grown woman I can imagine all sorts of reasons why he might have chosen to do this. Maybe he was divorced and had to pay alimony and child support. Maybe he was saving up to buy a house, Maybe he just didn't want to waste any money on me until he found out if I was worth it. Maybe he went out to eat all the time and thought it would be more pleasant to eat at the park, or maybe eating at the park was his daily habit and he never gave it a second thought.

When I told this story to my husband he asked, "But how did he know what kind of sandwich you would like?"
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:17 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


...and never wants to go to the movies because "we could just rent a movie and watch it here".

I, for one, prefer watching movies at home because I like having sex.
posted by LordSludge at 12:17 PM on August 21, 2010


Not those kind of movies. ; )
posted by pips at 12:45 PM on August 21, 2010


NUN:
Let the Pagan spend theirs
O'er restaurant, slut, and pain.
HOLY STATUES:
God shall strike them down for
Each dollar spent in vain.

Every dollar's sacred.
Every dollar's great.
If a dollar's wasted,
God gets quite iraaaaaate!
posted by Twang at 12:44 AM on August 22, 2010


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