How-to make a memorable date with no cash

By Adam Sauceda
On November 1, 2013

We stood in front of the movie theater in the cool, fall breeze. The sun was setting on the horizon in magnificent shades of orange, red and purple. The purple matched her flowing cocktail dress and the sky in the East was a shade of blue, not quite as bright as her eyes. She was easily one of the prettiest girls I've taken on a date, yet my mind wandered to one thing that was far from her intoxicating perfume: the balance of $23.41 left on my debit card.

She had said she had to work the day I got paid. Knowing I wouldn't have another chance for weeks to ask her out, I panicked, but asked her anyway. The excitement of her saying yes had been tragically cut short by the realization I was broke. Like a prisoner on his way to the electric chair trying to ignore the inevitable, the knowledge lingered in the back of my mind. I had done the math in my head 100 times. If I could get away with just buying the movie tickets and her drink, I would be OK. Then she looked at me with those big blues and with a bright smile and  said, "Oh, I haven't had Sour Punch Straws in forever! Let's share some!"

The date ended up being great. Not because of the movie or the Sour Punch Straws, but because of the walk we took afterward. It didn't cost anything and ended up being our favorite part.

So how can you have a great date with your lovely lady before your payday?

Spend Time, Not Money

You don't have to drop money on movies, drinks or dinner to show your girl a good time. If there's one thing I've learned it's that girls (at least quality ones) tend to be happy just hanging out and spending time with you. That doesn't mean just sit in your car and look at passing traffic all night (unless she's into that). Spending time, not money, in today's busy world isn't just difficult. It's a combination of science and art. Every opportunity has to strategically fit into your hectic schedule while maintaining a sense of spontaneity and personalization.

Do Your Homework

Hopefully, you're attracted to a girl because you both have common interests or because she can offer to teach you something new about life. Men are never JUST physically attracted to women, so that means that you know some things about her. Without stalking her, learn her hobbies, favorite foods, favorite music and other interests. Sounds lame, but read on.

Get Creative

Now that you know her interests and favorite favorites, it's time to put that knowledge to use. If she plays an instrument, meet up somewhere for a freestyle jam session. If one of you plays and the other doesn't, teach each other. It's always nice to share your passion with someone no matter which way the knowledge is swinging. One of my most memorable dates was when I was an amateur boxer and I took a girl to my gym and taught her how to fight. She told me it was her favorite date ever. "I didn't have to spend a lot of time getting dressed up, and how many other girls can take out their past ex-boyfriend frustrations on their new one?" she said, laughing.

Hungry? Have a Plan

Dinner seems to be the most popular date, but what if you can't afford Red Lobster? If you're like me, you don't care to hit up McDonald's on the first date and even a classy joint like Double Dave's may be out of your price range. For this, I have to go GodFather Italian with my suggestions: pizza and spaghetti. Both meals can make dinner for two under $15 if you shop carefully.

Already made pizza crusts can be purchased in packs of two at your favorite supermarket. Sauce and cheese are cheap, and you can get creative with your toppings. I use sandwich meat or ground beef. Best case scenario is your date likes cheese pizza and you don't have to buy extra toppings. The pizza choice is one both of you can make together in the kitchen while talking and laughing together. Maybe have a little cheese fight? Don't be wasteful. You're broke, remember?

Spaghetti is a more romantic dinner. Just a pound of ground beef, some spaghetti, and your choice of sauce can all be cooked up quickly. Don't forget the garlic bread. The spaghetti dinner is sure to get compliments on your cooking skills and maybe even lead to a "Lady and The Tramp" awkward noodle kiss, so long as your noodles aren't crunchy.

Remember, if you have to force it and it doesn't come naturally or comfortably to you, it won't work. The most effective way to ensure a successful date is to be you. Don't gauge your dating success by how many you've been on or whether it led to marriage. Measure it with the things that make both of you smile, even if it's a receipt with a balance of 73 cents left in your account and a Sour Punch-flavored kiss at the end of the night.

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