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Dating is hard in general but it’s even worse when you’re drowning in debt.  Some people believe you have to pull out all the stops and spend big bucks to be considered a good catch.  But what happens if you don’t have much cash to spare?  Relax, you’re not destined to be alone forever.  Here’s how you can afford to have a love life without sinking yourself further into debt.

Find room in your budget for dates

If you don’t already have a budget, it’s time to create one.  You can use an excel spreadsheet or download a budgeting app on your phone.  By tracking your spending, it will be easier to see what little luxuries you can give up to save money.  Some options include spending less on groceries, brown bagging your lunch or canceling subscriptions you hardly use.  Anytime you’re able to free up extra cash, put it towards a date night fund.  This way when the right person comes along, the money will already be there waiting.

Plan ahead

When you’re low on funds the worst thing you can do is go on a date without a game plan.  It leaves too much room for error and the possibility of getting embarrassed.  Save face by coming up with a few date ideas within your price range.  You don’t have to go over the top for it to be a good date.  Your best bet is to take your crush some place you visit fairly often.  The benefits are that you’ll already know what to expect price-wise plus you’ll be in your comfort zone. Another alternative is to take advantage of a Groupon deal.  Yes, some people may interpret using a coupon on a date as being cheap, but who cares as long as the bill is covered.

Pay for everything in cash

When you use your credit card, you’re less likely to keep track of your spending.  That’s not something you can afford to do when you’re already struggling with debt.  Crunch the numbers and see how much you can comfortably afford to spend on your date, then withdraw the cash from your bank account.  Be sure to budget a little extra so you won’t start sweating if the bill is slightly more than you anticipated.

Win them over with your personality

First dates are about getting to know each other and seeing if there’s any chemistry.  Dropping a few hundred dollars doesn’t guarantee that there will be a date number two.  Your personality is what’s really going to win someone over and leave a lasting impression.  Easy ways to impress your date include being confident, listening, making good eye contact, avoiding awkward silences and staying off your phone.  You want your date to feel special and if you follow our tips, you’ll do just that.

Know when to call it quits

You’re not going to have sparks with everyone you meet, but you need to know when to cut your losses.  If it’s been 3 or 4 dates and you still only feel lukewarm about the person, save your money and move on.