Thursday, February 14, 2008

Costs of a New Relationship

Well, it's Valentine's Day... My love life has had its ups and downs over the past several months, but I'm happy to report that I have a date for tonight!

After having written posts about the costs of a long distance relationship, and the costs of phone calls to maintain a friendship with a long-distance ex-, I'd been meaning to write a post about the costs of being newly single and trying to date. But Madame X is a very lucky girl... though I'd hate to jinx anything in its early stages, I think it's already time to move on to a more advanced look at the topic!

When you first decide you want to be dating, of course there are the usual things that people spend money on. You might want some new clothes, and you might spend a little more on grooming. You might join a gym or sign up for new activities where you could meet people. Then you spend money to go out on dates-- maybe you pay, maybe the other person pays, maybe you go dutch-- one way or another, it costs some money.
Then when things start to get interesting, there might be even more ways it can get expensive! Maybe you're a bit nervous and you want an extra drink to calm yourself down. Or maybe you find yourself going for another drink or a coffee just to extend the length of the date. And the dates start to become more frequent.
Then maybe after a nice dinner out, you splurge to take a taxi home because it seems faster than the subway and it's a more romantic place to "accidentally" lean against each other or even hold hands. And then, if all goes really well, your dry-cleaning bills might suddenly skyrocket because you're madly and passionately ripping clothes off and throwing them all over the floor!

Perhaps some money needs to be spent on taking cabs or car services home in the wee hours of the morning. And perhaps some money goes towards little gifts, and sending flowers, "just because." Perhaps you get into long, rambling conversations and find yourself paying extra because you've gone over your allotted cell phone minutes. Maybe you start skipping out on going to your expensive gym and activities you wanted to spend time on before. And this mental state of mooning about, happily love-struck: perhaps it has made you a bit absent-minded about things like paying your bills on time, or using food in the fridge before it goes bad. Or worse, what if you become totally unproductive at work and get fired! (Please be assured I'm just thinking hypothetically about some of these things!)

Sigh. It's a good thing over-spending isn't always this fun. But does the start of a new relationship only bring more spending and wasting of money? Might it not SAVE you some money too?

For instance, you might start cooking dinner at home together because it seems cozier than going out. If you start spending the night at someone else's place occasionally, you use less electricity and heat in your own home. But on the flip side, you might get to the point where you're there frequently enough that you have to buy a spare set of toiletries and hair products to keep there, so that's an extra cost. And if the other person is also coming over to your place a lot, you might begin to feel bad about things like having only one night table instead of two: yet another thing that brings us back to spending money... as does the concept of buying plane or train tickets or renting a car when it's time to meet the family. But beyond that, as discussed in this article from last weekend's NY Times real estate section, there might come a point when you start to consider saving even more money by moving in together!

I myself am definitely not moving in with anyone anytime soon, if ever... but I am feeling rather wonderfully light-hearted and romantic these days... and yeah, I might just be spending a teensy bit more money because of it! But there's one thing about all this that didn't cost me a cent: despite my previous posts about the costs of online dating, guess where I found my new squeeze? The wonderfully, amazingly FREE Craigslist.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!


DogAteMyFinances said...

Wow, Craigslist personals must be a lot less, uh, sketch in NYC. Good for you!

When I was dating, my eating out cost was always through the roof. I suppose you could mitigate by letting him pay, but I'm just not that kind of girl.

Then again, my eating out bill is still through the roof when engaged because I can't cook.

NNJ said...

CL is the best! I met my fiance on it and we have been together for almost 2 years now.

Madame X said...

Actually Craiglist IS 99% sketchy, and I kind of just looked for the heck of it ... but it worked out!

deonne said...

My romance quotient is about 0% these days, but I'm not bitter (ha). Really - I'm glad to hear someone is happy and in love. I think I'm on a dating hiatus until I get to NY this summer, and that's okay. I've got a lot on my plate with getting into grad school and moving, all very exciting stuff.

I find that I always spend more in the early throes of a relationship - clothes, going out, travel, both local and otherwise - but it never bothers me. Budding romance is so rare that it always seems worth it to overspend.

Even after the relationship becomes a "relationship," I still find the costs are higher because there are more outings (dinners, parties, events) than I normally do when I'm single, and I buy gifts for that person, cook more elaborate meals more often, buy better wine, etc. When I'm single my grocery bills are sometimes only in the double digits. I settle for the $7 Chardonnay versus the $15, for example.

I haven't lived with anyone in years and the next time I live with someone I'll be married, so I probably won't experience the money saving aspects of that any time soon. One financial upside to being single is that you don't have to spend when you don't want to - no worry about having to spend more on something (a trip, a piece of furniture) than you would because the other person really wants it. Single is simple.

frugal zeitgeist said...

Enjoy your date! I'm sick right now - been flat on my butt for four days. Assuming I'm better by tomorrow, SO and I are going out for a belated V-day dinner.

For me, being in a relationship is definitely more expensive than not being in one. In this case, however, the opportunity cost has been worth it so far.

Fabulously Broke said...

I'm right there with you, enjoying the first blush of love.

But damn does it eat your budget like a monster... !!!!!

I'm leaking money ALL OVER the place for travel (long distance) and phone calls, but I do admit, on the going out/eating front, I've saved a lot.

SandyVoice said...

Gee whiz! My best friend writes back cover copy for Harlequin and Silhouette Roamnces. She has nothing on you, Madame X!

Ellen said...

Such a cute and creative post! I'm in a long-distance relationship myself, and sometimes it's hard to fork over money for those plane tickets but it's always worth it. And the fact that I'll be spending Valentine's Day watching my Netflix and cuddling with my laptop? Hey, it's cool.

Beany said...

Happy Valentine's Day Madame X!

I "met" my husband on yahoo personals when it was free about 8 years ago. I can't imagine having to pay for dating services...I am just too cheap. Glad CL worked out for you.

And I do think cooking together is the most romantic activity to do as a couple.

Anonymous said...

Happy Valentines Madame X & everyone!

Like others have mentioned, I always spend far more than usual when in the early stages of dating, and it's usually on new clothes and makeup and hairstyling.

But, unlike others, I do find that being in a relationship is much cheaper than being single! When I was single I would often go out (2-3 times/week) to socialize with friends. For example, the cost of buying dinner, drinks at the bar and then paying for a cab home was more money than I spend now for a night out.

Viva la romance:)

RacerX said...

Well Madame X maske sure the boy knows he is a lucky one to have a date with you, not the other way around :)

Think the paymenat stop with dating...ask a married person.

Or worse yet ask a divorced person...

All those on dates, have a great time, and be home by 10pm! :)

Anonymous said...

Madame X you must have used skype and such to reduce your phone bill? do you not find it convenient enough?

Anonymous said...

I too have met a love on Craigslist! Got 2 dozen roses delivered yesterday to the office from him.

Nice post--I really enjoy reading your writing madam x.

From anonymous 38 yr old never-married female in Twin Cities, MN.