Budgeting | Personal Finance | Article

4 Ways To Spend Smarter On A Date In Singapore

by The Simple Sum Team | 26 May 2022 | 7 mins read

This article is brought to you by HSBC Personal Banking. Get a 1-night staycation at OASIA Hotel Downtown with club benefits worth S$511 plus up to S$350 in cash rewards* when you sign up for HSBC’s Everyday Global Account and HSBC Credit Card.

Whether you’re single and swiping your way through Tinder, or already seeing someone exclusively, going on dates in Singapore can be quite the wallet drain.

Brunch and coffee at a cafe will set you back at least $50 for two people, while a romantic meal at a restaurant could cost closer to $100 or more. And let’s not even think about other couple-y activities like going to fancy cocktail bars, going for couples’ spa treatments, or staycations.

So you end up spending more money because there’s a lot of pressure to impress your date. Or it might be more force of habit. You’re so used to taking your dates to nice restaurants that it would feel weird to stop, even though the routine is steadily burning a hole in your wallet.

Fortunately, there are ways that you can spend smarter while keeping your date happy. Here are four strategies.

Keep first dates low-key

If you’re meeting people off online dating apps, there’s really no need to pull out the stops with an elaborate date. Not only does this set the bar awfully high, but it also makes things uncomfortable if you realise that you don’t really click in real life.

Make the first meeting low-key and casual. “Let’s grab coffee” is the perennial example, but you can also go for ice cream, take a walk at a park, or visit a free event together.

These low-key date ideas won’t set you back more than $20 even if you’re paying for both of you. Plus, you can part ways after 30 minutes if you’re not clicking, and no one will feel like they’re owed anything.

Bonus tip: If you do end up buying your date a coffee, consider using a credit card that rewards you with cashback so you’re ultimately spending less money on your first dates.

Ditch the predictable dinner routine

So you’ve hit it off on the first date, yay! What do you do during that “getting to know you” stage? Will it be (drumroll) dinner and a movie? Or will you go crazy and suggest (gasp) dinner and drinks?

If you don’t want your romantic life to resemble a really expensive and predictable meal plan, then arm yourself with date ideas outside of fancy restaurants, such as…

  • Get outdoors: Go stand up paddling at Sentosa, hike the entire Rail Corridor, go cycling at East Coast Park or have a picnic at the Botanic Gardens. Most of Singapore’s outdoor attractions are free, and they can also be pretty romantic.
  • Going for events: Singaporeans can visit most museums and art exhibitions for free, so take advantage of that. A dose of art and culture will also give you something other than gaming or K-dramas to talk about.
  • Learn new stuff: Take classes or workshops together, or just make it a point to try out new things. Sure, this might not be cheap, but it’s probably better to spend $50 on experiences rather than overpriced pasta. Studies show that couples who take part in “novel” and “exciting” activities have better relationships. And you would pick up a useful skill in the process too!


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Make Your Dollar Travel Further

Plan your budget and scout for good deals

While dazzling your date with your home cooking or picnic-packing skills is a great idea, it might not always be possible. At some point, you’ll probably wind up at a restaurant.

The secret to keeping dinner date costs manageable is in planning ahead. Set aside a portion of your budget for your dating expenses every month. That way you can still enjoy going to a nice restaurant with your date without sacrificing your other savings goals in the process.

In addition, don’t leave things to chance and only start looking for a restaurant after you wind up in some shopping mall. Instead, proactively scout for good dining deals so you’re always ready with budget-friendly restaurant suggestions.

It also doesn’t hurt to use a credit card where you’ll earn rewards, cashback, or even dining deals when you go on dates. After all, if you’re going to be splurging on your date you might as well earn some cashbacks and perks while you’re at it.

Start talking about money

Most of us have been brought up to avoid talking about money, even with our partners. That makes no sense. When you’re part of a couple, your money habits will inevitably be exposed, leaving you open to judgment, resentment, outright conflict, or all of the above.

So if you think your dates might develop into something more, then you should definitely start bringing up money. If you don’t break the seal early on, it might get more awkward to do so later on.

Of course, we don’t mean ambushing your partner with your CPF statements and insurance policies. Start with casual mentions such as the savings account you’re using and credit card deals you’ve seen online  to take advantage of, before moving on to bigger topics like your spending habits and financial goals. Here are some thought-starters for a couple-y money conversation if you’re drawing a blank.


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It might feel painfully unromantic to start talking about money while you’re dating, but trust us, being frank about money will bring a whole new dimension of honesty and vulnerability to your relationship.

These conversations could also lead to deeper understanding of your spending expectations. For example, if your partner learns that you’re thrifty on dates because you plan to retire early, and they are interested in working together on the same goal, then you have the makings of a love story for the ages.

Dating shouldn’t be all about money

If you’ve been dating expensively all this time, be warned: the above frugal dating tips might cause a dip in your “hit rate”. There are people out there who will swipe right on your wallet-friendly yet perfectly romantic date idea. On the bright side, though, you’d be weeding out materialistic people and freeloaders, which isn’t a bad thing.

When the occasion calls for spending more extravagantly, just be sure that you’ve planned your dates into your budget, take advantage of deals, rewards, and discounts, and have an honest conversation with your date about splitting the bill and your money habits.

For most people, the end-goal of dating is to connect with someone on a real level. To do that, you need to be true to yourself — and your budget too.

Content sponsored by HSBC Personal Banking

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*Terms and conditions apply. SGD deposits are insured up to S$75k by SDIC.