Times are tough and money is short for many. Screw it. I’ll drop the pretense. Times are tough for me. I exist in a constant state of broke. What doesn’t help is my girlfriend. She doesn’t blow my money on crap; this isn’t that kind of thing. When you’re in a committed relationship there’s a baseline amount of money that must be spent to not be seen as a boring cheapskate. You have to walk that fine line between giving yourselves a good time and hoarding every penny like they’ll be the closest thing to real food available after the apocalypse.
That’s what this article is about. In here you’ll find a few tips on how to treat your girlfriend right, based off of my personal experience.
Make Eating-in Sound Fun
Going out to eat with a girlfriend who understands your situation but also wants to be wined and dined like any normal person is a tricky prospect. On the one hand, you want to have a nice night out where you try new things and go to new places. On the other hand, no; let’s eat these pudding cups my aunt who works at the grocery store salvaged from the dumpster. There is a way to have a nice meal with your girlfriend while not going crazy with money. In fact, there’s probably a bunch, but I only know of one. I know how to cook and my girlfriend doesn’t. So instead of a date night, we have a night where we make a dirt cheap meal together. She chips in a little, I chip in a little; we both get a meal, and even if it doesn’t actually taste better than a restaurant meal it’s better because this meal is ours. We made it. It’s like a baby you can eat.
It’s the corniest thing in the world, but when we’re in the kitchen and I’m sweating my ass off trying to get this meal together and she’s looking at a cheese grater like it’s a broken piece of an alien spacecraft, I pretend I’m the host of a cooking show and she’s the camera. I narrate every excruciating, mundane detail of the process while constantly testing out the worst catch phrases my mind can conjure. Basically, I pretend I’m Guy Fieri if Guy Fieri ever tried to turn the words “pulverized chicken ****” into a catchphrase.
It’s remarkably stupid.
It’s a memorable time and inevitably she offers to help; she can’t get that level of stupid at a restaurant.
Can’t Afford A Gift? Get Clever
About a year ago, my girlfriend and I went to Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure. We agreed to split the cost of everything. If she spent a few bucks on some hot dogs and cotton candy at the start of the day, I would pick up the next meal, whatever it was. I had a wallet filled with cash and the plan was flawless.
Along the way, I was pulled over and handed a $250 speeding ticket, wrecking any chances of being a big spender for the weekend. $250 might as well have been $10 million. Any amount above maybe $8.50 and I would have considered it an astronomical sum that only Lords and Dukes can part ways with without remorse.
She barred me from spending a dime for the remainder of the weekend, mostly to save herself from having to see my pained expression every time I pulled out my wallet. Once in the park, everywhere I looked I saw cartoonish, googly-eyed trinkets I wanted to plop down a wad of cash for and use to make my girl’s day. I had to live with the fact that it wasn’t going to happen.
And then I got creative.
While walking through one of the transitional segments between the park’s world hubs (Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, the one with the comic strip characters who modern kids probably don’t recognize, etc.) we came across a small carnival game booth. Play a game, win a prize; that sort of thing. For the life of me, I can’t remember what the game was, but I convinced my girlfriend to let me spend two bucks so she could unleash her highly competitive nature. The prize was a plush and stuffed colorful toy thing that the winner got to choose from the vast catalogue of plush and stuffed colorful toy things the game worker guarded like it was a cache of plutonium. I gave the game my all, for about eight-seconds. I threw the match. By talking my girlfriend into letting me spend a couple bucks on the carnival game and then purposefully losing the game, I was able to get her the cheapest keepsake in the entire park, and she walked away with the satisfaction that only comes with being the victor.
She wouldn’t let me pay for a damn thing for the next 48-hours, but as far as I was concerned, given the terrible financial circumstances, I was proud that I was able to provide my girlfriend with a tangible memento of our first trip together. It was a hat in the shape of a blue squid, with testicles hanging down across the face. It had googly eyes.
No Money Fun
You’re not going to be doing a lot of clubbing or bar hopping when the numerical value of all the money you have in the world doesn’t even surpass your age. The alternative is sitting around all day watching TV or reading books or, you know, looking at each other and talking, which is wonderful but if you’re not experiencing anything together those conversations will quickly turn into long silences punctuated with an occasional “Hey, are you mad at me?”
You’ve got to do stuff, and for the sake of your bank account you’d better hope that stuff is as close to free as possible. This provides a great opportunity to explore the parts of your city neither of you have ever seen before. In lieu of a date, my girlfriend and I drove to a beautiful park tucked away in a rich neighborhood. We got some fresh air, some sun, we made fun of rich people to make me feel better, and within minutes I was having a very real panic attack because every trail we walked was loaded with the kind of spiders that if you saw them with a movie would be accompanied by the spine-tingling sound of an orchestra plucking their strings out of sync. It was nothing but wall-to-wall Sam Rami-style extreme pan-ins on clusters of fist-sized demons. As you can tell, I want all spiders to die and then s**t themselves and then die again, but this time screaming about how they’ve wasted their lives sitting on string waiting for food. My girlfriend doesn’t mind spiders and absolutely loves it when I’m on the brink of tears because THE SPIDERS ARE CLOSING IN.
I didn’t plan that moment. I didn’t go to my local spider dealer and order three boxes of their most expensive spiders and then apply for a permit from the city to place these opulent horrors along the exact path we were going to walk. I simply took my girlfriend to a park and I nearly s**t myself and fainted and almost got hit by a car at one point because getting mangled by a rolling battering ram made of steel and cup holders is a better fate than being alive near spiders. That was months ago and my girlfriend still brings it up. The Islands of Adventure trip doesn’t come up much but she’ll occasionally send me pictures of her wearing the silly squid hat she “won.” Sometimes she’s wearing clothes in the pictures! There was once a time when she didn’t want to hang around the kitchen when I cooked. Now she doesn’t leave and it’s annoying sometimes because she doesn’t know where anything is/goes and she can’t chop, slice, dice, mince, or julienne for s**t, but it’s an experience we’re both sharing and, damnit, that’s fantastic.
For more reassurance about dating on a budget, read The Frugal Model‘s Guide to Impressing a Woman (without Going Broke or Looking Cheap). Or practice your seduction moves on a budget with Make Your Own Vague “On The Next Mad Men” Promo.