Those of you still in the dating pool know: It’s a jungle out there.
Look no further than the latest rom-com from Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, “Blended,” for example: The film begins with the two going on a disastrous setup, after which they vow to never see each other again. Of course, Hollywood has them falling in love after they end up at the same African resort.
After you’ve burned an hour on a please-make-it-stop blind date, your reality was probably a little less happily-ever-after. Not only was it a waste of time, you might also be out a painful $100.
Finding love can come at a cost: The average online dater, for instance, spends $239 a year on different sites’ membership fees. Then tack on what you spend on dinner, drinks or getting well-groomed—not to mention go-the-extra-mile services like dating consultants—and you’ve likely dipped deeply into your budget.
“It’s important to keep in mind that dating expenses are discretionary line items in your budget, as opposed to necessary costs such as food, rent or paying down debt,” says Jennifer Faherty, a money coach and CFP®. “Even if finding your soul mate ranks high on your list of priorities, be mindful to still cover your essential expenses.”
But once those are covered, “how you choose to allocate the money within that category is really up to you,” she says. “As long as it fits into your larger budget, there are no strict rules.”
Knowing that every dating budget might look different, we asked three active daters, and one who’s now in a relationship, to give us a snapshot of what they’re willing to spend—or not—in the pursuit of finding The One. Then we asked Faherty to weigh in on what their spending might reveal about how they view both love and money.