Recession Dating

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I warned you of my impending lameness at last week's dating auction.

Upon arriving, I noticed Burberry (yes, I'll spell it correctly this time around) Scarf girl looking radiant and confident as ever. We exchanged a little small talk, and I made my disclaimer: I would only bid up to $80, and then give up.

With credit cards saturated with charges, upcoming holidays (and two nieces who will get the world for Xmas), and poor financial management, I just can't afford to spend more than $80 on buying a date.

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Burberry Scarf went for about $125 — way out of my price range! I felt powerless as I dropped my bid flag.

To make matters worse (or maybe better for me), Burberry Scarf was creeped out by her top bidder. Many of the girls went to guys who knew them in some way, but Burberry Scarf was not so lucky.

"A lot of good you did me," she joked after the auction.

I told her: "I'll just ask you out for free." Besides, that's $80 more I could spend on the actual date. So we'll see what happens.

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But it got me thinking: Could I — financially blasé as I am — actually be feeling the effects of the recession?

To eliminate the excuse that being with a girl is too expensive, and to make do during trying financial times, I put together some recession dating ideas:

Don't go out to dinner...make dinner

Cooking is one of my money-saving strategies in NYC. I can spend about $20-$30 and have enough food to feed a few people for a few days. Going out to a nice dinner is a much more expensive endeavor. Cooking also allows you to infuse time and your personality into the meal. And it's still just as fun to research recipes as it is to discover a cool place to eat.

Don't go to the movies...create movie nights

Movies are so expensive! And to get my terrible popcorn (extra butter or whatever that heavenly sauce actually is) and Spree, I have to invest another arm and a leg. Watching movies together is a great bonding experience and, whether you already own some or end up renting, it's cheaper. You can even make a movie theme, say, horror for instance. So, you can compile a list of horror movies, or you can each bring one horror movie to the date and critique.

Don't drive to a date...take a walk as the date

Of course driving requires gas, which can burn a hole in your wallet. Going to a nearby park to relax, exercise, or people watch together will give you a chance to talk and enjoy the outdoors. You get away from the lights and loudness of the bar, and it's cheaper! You can even research fun walks — parks,

seaside towns, or fun parts of town. And remember, the holidays give you the opportunity to take in decorations for free. Growing up, my friends and I used to head to Hampden, a Baltimore neighborhood known for its homes' "enthusiastic" holiday light treatments. Never paid a dime, but had a great time...and hey, that rhymes!

Don't go to venues during peak times...take advantage of promotions

The other day, a friend mentioned that she was attending Free Friday at MOMA — from 4 to 8 p.m., you can visit the museum for free. So, if you're looking to save a little money and do some sightseeing, research these types of events.

Don't go to the big show...discover the little guys together

I'm not encouraging you change your artistic tastes because of the recession, but perhaps open your mind some if you've paid $80 to see Bruce Springsteen or Coldplay. My buddy and I have always looked to smaller bands to find great music. One of my favorite bands, Asobi

Seksu, played at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC for $14. It was a great show, and there were a lot of interesting people there. Maybe you can take turns introducing each other to new music. Also, smaller artists will have free gallery shows (free booze too). These are great places to meet people and bring dates.

Everyone loves to have someone spend money on them, but recession dating requires creative thought (I'd argue that someone thinking creatively to impress you is actually more valuable than someone spending money on you). Also, cheaper dates tend to be more personal and intimate, so give it a shot.

Do you have any cheap date suggestions, or cheap dates that you'll never forget?

Check out these 50 Cheap Date Ideas

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