Let's be real. Dating typically requires money. You need money to get ready, money for the movie tickets, for the club, for the dinner, for the coffee and ice cream, for gas, for the concert, for the bar, for the festival...and so on and so on. It is extremely hard if you are a guy trying to date with no money because often times, not all, but a good majority of women and society expect you to at least foot the bill for the first date which is typically where you want to make the best first impression. It's kind of hard to do when you are broke AF, but where there is a will, there is a way!
What You Personally Need To Handle Your Lack of Money
1. Honesty with yourself: if you are really keen on dating while broke, you have to be realistic. Money most likely isn't going to just appear right in front of you to solve all your money problems. Know your actual budget, even if it's zero. Don't get swept up in the idea that you can stretch your cash even for the girl of your dreams, when the reality is, you can't, no matter how awesome she is.
2. Creativity: you've got to be able to think beyond just forking over a lot of money for an expensive dinner. Sit down, pen and paper, and jot down some alternative date ideas, or get ideas from friends who know your situation.
3. Time: you can't just pop into any old restaurant or head over to any old event with a limited or non-existent budget. You are going to at least have to spend a little time online or via the newspaper, or your phone looking up things that are free or low cost, and/or looking up menu, movie, or ticket prices ahead of time, so you know if you can or can't afford something.
4. Self-Love: Everyone hits on some hard times from time to time. Don't beat yourself up if someone is rejecting you because of your lack of cash flow or get down on yourself because you feel like you can't afford to date. If you are working on your money situation, that situation will pass over time, but in the meantime, be as positive as you can and try to have a sense of humor about your situation.
Explaining Your Situation
Tell The Truth: if you know the person you're wanting to go out with, it's probably best if you are at least somewhat honest or totally honest about your money situation. Let them know you are a broke college student, or you've fallen on hard times, or you're trying to pay off your college loans first, etc. Someone you actually do want to stick around and date will understand and hopefully you can both work around your money situation creatively. Those that put you down for this or let you know they aren't interested in you anymore should be a big flaming red warning flag. Even though it may hurt, it is better to have seen that persons true character up front, rather than to start to really like them but find out how much they really are into you(r money).
or you know...
Lie: if you don't know the person you're wanting to go out with or you really don't feel like outing your money situation, LIE CREATIVELY, or let's just say, get creative with the truth. For example, if you're trying to save money on the dinner you're paying for, order a garden salad and some free water. If your date gets curious, go into this whole speech about how you are trying to get in shape or used to be fat or you're training for something and you're on a strict diet that requires you to only eat certain things at certain times. Really lay into how much it sucks that you have watch what you eat because you love meat and cake, but that you know it will be worth it. Now, you don't have to pay for a dessert or alcohol for yourself at least, and you might inadvertently guilt your date out of doing the same, thus saving you some money and laying down the foundation for you to save money on at least your portion of future dates involving food. If you get caught chowing on something else, it's a "cheat day." LOL.
Plan Your Dates
Easiest way to save some cash is to plan your dates. When you're in control, you decide where to go (is it free, let's go there!) and how much you can spend and still be able to pay your rent. Many cities list events online that are really dirt cheap or free. Take full advantage of this list and plan your dates around them. Often times its everything from free concerts, to outdoor movies, to local festivals, art conventions, to museum free days.
Pick the time, Cap The Time, and Pick Odd Days
The longer your date runs, the more money you're likely to have to spend. Let your date know you want to hang out, but you're a busy man (true or not) with work projects or school or family obligations. Would she mind if you hung out for an early dinner, so you can attend to your business later. Know your favorite places happy hours and discount days/times and take full advantage. Breakfast will typically be cheaper than lunch or dinner. Go out on odd days where food menu prices or event prices can be much lower than on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays.
Use a Coupon
This is the time when either you have no shame in your game, or you turn into the Ninja of couponing. If you're a Ninja, wherever your coupon is to, wrap the coupon around your cash/credit/debit card so you can discretely pull it out of your wallet and tuck it in with the bill or hand it to the ticket taker, or whomever. You can also have your date take a seat to "avoid the long line," and you can pay alone without her taking note of your coupon. If there is no shame in your game, and you're up front and honest, hey, you're trying to save money, if she doesn't like it, she can pay...
Don't Spend Much (Or Any) Money On the First Date
There is a 50% chance on a first date that it won't work out and you'll never see that person again. Why run the risk of going for broke every time you want to go on a first date. Make some sandwiches, whip up some lemonade, throw in some fruit in a basket, grab a blanket and go for a relaxing date at the park really talking and getting to know one another (*cough, cough* not spending money). If you're more of the shy type, plan the free date around some free park event so you have something to do and interact with before you picnic. Or if you are more of the active type or types, use city bikes to travel round and get lost in your city, capped with a picnic in the park.
Crash Everyone's Party
If your friends are known to throw parties, that means free alcohol and some type of food. Invite your date to come to meet you at the party and have a good time--no extra gas money, food money, alcohol money spent.
If you have any sort of skill, even if its mediocre, now is the time to pull it out of your butt. Get someone to help you set up a nice table, borrow some nice flatware and plates if you don't have them (borrow some food while you're at it), and get to work making whatever meal you can make that seems or is awesome. If you food fail, it's cute that you tried so hard, if you succeed, you're f--king amazing, and she knows it. A man who can cook, yes, please!
Netflix and Chill
We all know what it means, but it's the standard standby like a dinner date, and it works, so why ruin a good thing. If you are too broke and can't afford Netflix, go to your local library and borrow a couple of movies for free. Pop some dollar store popcorn, and have her bring the wine or the beer.
Pull The Emergency Broke Alarm!
Dear God, is she reaching for the wine list that includes no prices? Has she just suggested that you hit up a movie and you're already nickle and diming it after that dinner? Has she just suggested you attend an event where the admission is $50 a head? You're sweating under the pressure and you have two choices...tell the truth, you can't afford it=way easier by the way or...get creative with the truth or hell at this point, just lie.
For the wine, place the menu down gently, and say do you mind not drinking tonight. I'm a few months sober. It's an a-hole move that you may regret later if things work out or don't because she may think you have a drinking problem which would be your own damn fault, but remember, you can't afford wine lists with no prices!!! Why did you even go to that restaurant, you idiot?!? Desperate times bro! Desperate times...
For the movie, it's time to suddenly get sick. Like deathly sick. Maybe it was the free water you drank earlier or your soul internally crushing at the thought of having to explain to the ticket taker that you don't have it tonight, but either way, you need to abort this mission asap with a, I'm so sorry. This date has been going so well, and I've been trying to stay upbeat, but whatever we just ate has not been sitting right with me. Do you mind if we just cut it short, I definitely want to make it up to you later. Clutch your chest a bit for emphasis (maybe it's heartburn instead of a stomach thing, you can't remember) and immediately tell her you'll make plans with her later.
For her expensive plans that you can't afford, again, you could just tell the truth, or a work thing just came up, but YOU would love to make some new plans soon. Emphasis on you would love to make the plans, so you can avoid having to drop cash like that.
Or if all else fails, per-emptively lose your wallet. Before you get into some awkward or painful situation where you have to fork over some cash (that you don't have, remember you don't have any more money to spend), go to the bathroom and stash your wallet in a sock, in your undies, in the inside secret pocket of a jacket, or toss it under your seat in the car, that way when it comes to paying now at the counter, oh my my, you've lost your wallet! Now, this works because she saw you pay earlier, so she may not be aware you're pulling a stunt...now, but again, desperate times and since you aren't into telling the truth at this point, it's a last resort. Be SO embarrassed or SO frantic or SO pissed off looking for it. Oh no, you might have left it on the bathroom counter, go check buddy, it might still be there, nooooo, it's gone...ugh! What is the world coming to? LOL! Run with it bro, just run with it...or like I said, just tell the truth up front...
*You can only use these gems so many times or once, and use them at your own risk because you may get caught in your own web of lies*
Good luck...with everything