How Much Does a First Date Cost?

Last Updated on February 4, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Going on a first date can be thrilling but also nerve-wracking. Along with worries about making a good impression, many people stress about how much money to spend. A first date is a significant investment – you’re putting time, effort, and funds into building a new relationship. However, expensive dates aren’t required for romance and fun. With some planning and creativity, you can enjoy first dates that wow your partner without breaking the bank.

How Much Does a First Date Cost?

A typical first date costs between $40 and $150+ depending on the activities chosen. According to surveys, most people spend $85 to $102 on their first outing. However, inexpensive dates under $50 are also popular, especially among budget-conscious daters.

Factors Influencing Cost

Elements impacting your first date budget include:

  • Location – Big cities are pricier than rural areas for dining, entertainment, etc.
  • Timing – Weekend and night dates usually cost more.
  • Type – Dinner dates are generally more expensive than coffee dates.
  • Planning spontaneous or last-minute dates limits options to costlier venues.

Reddit users reported first date costs ranging from $50 to $75 for food, drinks, and activities.

According to The Balance, millennials spend an average of $69 on first dates, with 28% willing to spend at least $100 and a third spending $250 or more per month on dates.

Wise Bread notes that Cosmopolitan found that men spend about $80 on a first date, on average. Other sources suggest that the typical person spends between $50–$100 on date night.

MoneyGeek claims that the average price of a date night in the U.S. is $123, with costs varying by city. For example, in Miami, the average cost of a date night is $156.

Budget-Friendly First Date Ideas

You can easily keep first date costs under $50 with a little creativity:

Inexpensive Dining Options

  • Coffee shop ($15 to $30 for drinks and snacks)
  • Brunch/breakfast ($25 to $35 per person)
  • Food trucks or street food ($10 to $15 per person)
  • Happy hour or late-night appetizers (share 1-2 discounted plates)
  • Picnic in the park (homemade food and drinks)

Creative and Affordable Activities

  • Window shopping, art gallery strolls or museum tours
  • Local festivals, fairs, and free concerts
  • Hiking, biking, beach trip, free yoga class
  • Board games night or movie marathon at home
  • Stargazing, nature walk, or scenic drive
  • DIY crafting or cooking class

Introduction to First Dates

Understanding the Significance

A first date represents a pivotal moment when two people explore their connection and chemistry. While dates should be affordable, first impressions matter.

Within minutes, your date will make judgments about your personality, values, and romantic interest based on conversations and date activities. Budget-friendly dates can still be thoughtful, fun, and romantic if you put care into personalizing them.

Setting Expectations

Clarify expectations beforehand so you’re both on the same page about financial plans. Having an open chat about budget helps prevent awkward money moments.

You can even decide to split costs. Don’t feel pressure to spend excessively in hopes of impressing someone. If your date expects extravagance, they probably aren’t the right match long-term.

Balancing Romance and Budget

Making an Impression on a Budget

First Date DrawingAvoid seeming cheap on a budget-friendly date with thoughtful personal touches:

  • Bring flowers or a small gift
  • Make personalized playlists
  • Pack beautiful picnic settings
  • Research inspiring locations off the beaten path
  • Share meaningful stories and jokes

Avoiding Overspending

Set a first date budget cap beforehand. Other saving strategies include:

  • Having an activity backup plan if the original is too expensive
  • Getting groupon deals or looking for specials
  • Skipping alcohol or limiting it
  • Seeing matinee or discount showings
  • Exploring free events and exhibits

Comparing First Date Costs

Let’s break down estimated prices for classic date ideas:

Dinner Date vs. Coffee Date

  • A mid-range $40 to $60 dinner for two with tax and 15% tip
  • $15 to $30 latte/coffee, tea, or smoothie date

You might also like our articles about the cost of a rose, a mail order bride, or a wedding dress.

Movie Night vs. Outdoor Activities

  • Movie tickets ($20 to $40) plus $15 to $25 for snacks
  • A hike, beach trip, or picnic ($10 to $20 for food and drinks)

Planning and Budgeting for a First Date

Budgeting Tips

  • Discuss cost expectations instead of assuming
  • Research prices and options before deciding
  • Save by having dates on cheaper days/times
  • Set a spending cap based on your means

Planning Affordable Dates

  • Get creative – fun doesn’t require money
  • Take turns choosing date ideas
  • Suggest free or low-cost activities you enjoy
  • Look for deals, memberships, groupons, etc.
  • Offer to pack snacks and drinks instead of buying

First Date Etiquette and Expectations

Who Pays?

  • There are no hard rules, so chat openly about preferences
  • Many couples split the bill or take turns covering dates
  • If treating, don’t hold it over your date or make them uncomfortable

Managing Expectations

  • Don’t judge dates by budgets – focus on personality match
  • Communicate your financial situation/boundaries without guilt or shame
  • Remember splurging won’t guarantee someone’s affection

Real-Life First Date Stories

Successes and Failures

Expensive dates don’t guarantee romance or reciprocity. The difference between good and bad dates often boils down to personalities meshing, shared interests, and thoughtful gestures over dollar amounts.

Lessons Learned

Lavish dates can feel overwhelming or create unhealthy dynamics if one person tries to “buy” the affection of the other. Many people report their best first dates were simple, affordable activities where they felt relaxed and got to know someone genuinely.


With a mix of creativity and communication, you can plan cost-effective dates tailored to match your budget and personality. Spend only what feels comfortable for you. If someone expects extravagance from the start, they probably aren’t a compatible partner.

Focus funds on building meaningful connections over materialism. You can discover romance, chemistry, and adventure on any budget – all you need is an open heart and mind. Relax and be yourself instead of trying to bankroll someone’s interest. Affordability doesn’t have to limit your dating life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most important question to ask on a first date?

On a first date, some of the most important questions to ask are open-ended ones that reveal your date’s passions, values, interests, and relationship goals. Ask about their hobbies, favorite travel spots, life ambitions, or childhood memories.

Listen closely to their answers to find common ground. Most importantly, ask questions that help you determine if this person has relationship potential long-term.

What are the don’ts on a first date?

Some first date don’ts include: monopolizing the conversation, bragging excessively, name-dropping, complaining constantly, bringing up exes, probing too much into someone’s past, making crude or offensive jokes, insulting your date’s interests, exhibiting strong negativity, and pressuring someone physically or to meet up again. Focus on being kind, open-minded, a good listener, and authentic.

What are the rules of a first date?

While there are no rigid rules, some general first date etiquette tips include: plan a low-pressure activity so you can focus on conversing, dress nicely to show you put in effort, stick to public places to maintain safety and comfort, avoid getting drunk, don’t overshare too much personal history, turn cell phones off to stay present, don’t make assumptions, offer to pay or split (if comfortable), and follow up thanking them for their time. Most importantly, remain true to yourself. The right person will appreciate you for you.

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