Should You Budget Money For Dating?

The other day while driving I was listening to some Dave Ramsey.  In case you’re not familiar, briefly, Dave wants people to live biblically with their money, meaning stay out of debt, control your money instead of letting it control you and be generous along the way.

He has a radio show and people call in with all kinds of scenarios asking his advice.  Very rarely do I ever see Dave not have an answer.  In fact, I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen it . . . until the other day.

A young never married guy called in and said, “Hey Dave, I’m following your plan.  No debt, I have a budget etc.  I’m not married but I want to be.  Here’s my question, how much should I budget for that pursuit?”

One thing about Dave is that he’s always honest with people and he just laughed and said, “I have not been in that world for so long, I have no idea.”  After both he and the caller laughed a little, he did toss out a couple of thoughts, but it made me think of a couple of important ideas and some practical ones if you find yourself in that position.

To begin with, as a single person you need to have a handle on your money.  I’ve written once about this before, but you and your money are not less important because you are not married.  The biblical principles for money apply to all of us, no matter what our marital status is.  I messed this up quite a bit in my 20 years of singleness (as well as doing a few smart things) and I’ll share more about that later.

Secondly, I think it can be really healthy, if you are in search for a spouse mode, to intentionally budget both some money time in that direction.  It is ok, and in fact I would suggest a good idea, to be intentional about looking for said spouse.  As is well documented all over this blog, I’m not a big believer in platitudes that say, “It will just happen” or “God will bring you the one at the right time” or “being content with singleness“.  Again, there are probably double digit posts here on this.  We have to act.  Especially if you are out of college and living in the “real world” so to speak.

Now this is different than obsessing over it, making it an idol, being desperate for it, or letting it run your whole walk with God.  That’s all bad and admittedly it can be a fine line.  But intentionality, especially when involves doing it with God and within His guidelines, is always good.  In any context including this one.

That means I’m going to have to carve out time and, as the caller mentioned, carving out some budget money is not a bad idea either.  But again, I need to be intentional with both, because I don’t have a limitless supply of either.

Let me throw out a few ideas about how one might do that. A couple of caveats here.  I did some of these at some level, but I did not really handle my money as well as I should have as a single.  Also, these are just ideas.  I would really love it if some others would chime in here with either ideas that they’ve used or that they might try out if they thought about it.  Finally, this assumes that you actually have a budget.  If you don’t I’d start there**.

I think I’d start with an overall spouse search budget.  Then I’d have a couple of sub categories.

I’d have a meet people budget.  Depending on your mode of operation this could include different things.  But as an example budget an amount for online dating.  Look for deals.  A couple of hints here.  Rotate your paid subscription to different sites.  For example, sign up for three months of Eharmony, then if you want, sign up for three months of Match.  They’ll let you keep your profile for free so you can easily rotate the one you are paying for.  Look for promos.  Eharmony will do free weekends for example.  The point is, part of your monthly budget could go to this.***

Then have an an actual go out with these people budget.  If you aren’t in a relationship this does not need to be large amount.  I know there is debate in certain circles about the guy paying which I get.  I think in general it’s good for us to pay.  However, we should have a budget for what we are paying and frankly I wouldn’t bust your budget meeting someone the first couple to times.  It’s ok to go somewhere nice, but just be smart.  Too much too soon is not helpful anyway.

Now, if you get serious about someone, it is time to stop putting money in the meet someone budget, for now, and start putting more into the actual going on dates budget.  Eventually if things go really well, you could start a ring budget.

A question I thought of is this, “What if I have dating budget money left over at the end of the month?”  Maybe nothing shook out or led to any dates.  Or maybe a couple of inexpensive meet ups but nothing beyond that.  Great.  Now I have extra money.

I don’t think I’d roll it over into the dating fund of the next month although maybe now and then you could.  Perhaps put it toward savings or towards a particular purchase you’d like to make in the future.  Maybe some months you spend it on you.  The point is, you don’t have to spend all you have allotted each month, but you have it if you need it.

The point here is have a plan.  See what works.  Try different things.  But budget for it.

I welcome other thoughts here.  What do you think?


** For a great budgeting app go here.

*** This is a pretty good breakdown of some different sites.

Don’t Tell Her How You Feel

Back when I was in college the show ER became a sensation. One of the best parts about it was that the characters were believable. One of the intriguing relationships that developed on the show was between Doctor Mark Green (played by Anthony Edwards) and Doctor Susan Lewis (Sherry Stringfield).  They were both sort of the “good guys” in the ER.  They also developed a sort of friendship/relationship.

In the third season Susan decided to move away.  In her final episode, Mark had to decide if he should (or could) tell her how he feels.  They were great friends and had chemistry and it’s been obvious for years.  Dr Ross (George Clooney) tells him, “Tell her what you’ve wanted to for years.  Tell her how you feel. . . ”

Then comes the scene I’ll always remember.  Mark leaves work and goes to her house but he’s too late.  Then he goes to the train station.  I mean it’s an epic deal.  He goes to the wrong place as the train’s leaving point changes.  But he makes it just in time.  He calls out to her.  The train is about to leave.

He tells her that he loves her and should have told her long ago, and he wants her to stay.  I’ll never forget her response to that.  She says that she knew, he is her best friend, and that she is leaving.  Then she gets on the train, waves good by and says, “I do love you.”

I remember watching that scene and just being smacked upside the head.  For years I thought about that scene because it pretty much defined me.  Always the friend of the girl who I liked. Always carrying some sort of hope that at the right time, if I just shared it in the right way, everything would change.  That scene was a picture of how I felt.

The mistake I made though is that I saw my identity in that and thought that it was just the way it was – I was just “that” guy. Whoa is me. I failed to realize that I didn’t have to be that guy.

There are some very important things here that single men need to get a hold of.  And we in the Church need to quit essentially lying to guys about how to go about this.

First we need to establish two simple truths.

1. Being the nice guy is not attractive.  I’ve written an entire post on this and I plan to write more later.  But, bottom line, for the most part, being the nice guy as an approach doesn’t work.

2. Being friends to get the girl is not a good plan.  Once you are in the friendzone you are done.

You can ignore these truths, complain about how they aren’t fair, talk about how it shouldn’t be that way, tell me that the only other option is to be a “player” and so on.  No amount of denial or over spiritualization will make them not true.  They are true period.  They will lead you to the Dr. Green moment over and over again.

But what I want to tackle today is this idea that you should “tell her how you feel”.  Should you express how you feel about her and if so when?  Or in “Christian Courtship” language when should you “tell her your intentions”?  Ugh I hate Christianese.

Do not tell her how you feel if you are not dating.  Ask her out.  Asking her out is telling her how you feel, or at least all she needs to know about it.  If she says no, do not tell her more.  This will not help you.  It would be better to ask her again later than to tell her how you feel.

What a lot of nice guys think (remember this was me so I’m not attacking anyone) is that somehow if the girl really knew how much they liked her, that would change her mind.  Um no.

“Will you go out with me?”

“No” (usually some form of “I like you as a friend” “I’m busy” or “I’m dating Jesus right now”).

“But wait, I really, really like you.  I think your are so awesome.  I see us together . . .” Barf

“Oh Ok then I’ll go out with you” – yeah that never happens.

Look gentlemen. This is for real, brother to brother. Stop doing this to yourself!  Don’t lead with telling her how you feel.  Just ask her out. Don’t friend her.  Ask her out.  If she likes you she will say yes.  If she says no, walk away.  You can maybe ask her again later.  But don’t try to talk her into it – ever.

From the “Christian” side of things, one of the things I’ve heard a lot lately is how you need to tell her your “intentions” right away.  I think this is sort of counterproductive on several levels not the least of which is it throws pressure on the situation right away.

You don’t need to say some version of, “I want you to know that my intention is to only go on first dates with people who I can marry.  That’s what this is all about.  To find out if I can marry you.”  Nothing says fun like a first date to find out marriage-ability.

Now look, you can take this too far the other way.  I don’t think you should get into long term relationships without purpose and without being intentional. In fact I’m not suggesting you don’t be intentional.  I’m saying be intentional in a way that might actually be effective.

The time to tell her how much you like her is after you are dating her . . . for a while. . . not when you ask her out.

Here’s the video – the epic chase starts at 4:03.  If you just want the final scene it’s at 7:30.