Even romance can’t escape the recession – lately, I’ve been seeing frugal dating tips everywhere. One thing I’ve read is to use a coupon on a first date.
I love eating out, I love good food, and if I can do it for 10% or 20% or 50% off, all the power to me. CB and I have no qualms about busting out a restaurant.com coupon and enjoying a $60 meal for $40, or going to Restaurant Week, or ordering specials. But using coupons on the 293rd date is very different than doing so on a first date.
Using coupons on a first date, especially in a restaurant, a bit awkward to me. ChowHound had a very spirited debate on this matter, with the Yay-coupons coming slightly ahead of the Nay-coupons. I think I’d lean towards Nay to coupons on the first date, and this is why:
- First date should be the time when you are extra careful to make sure the other person is comfortable. A coupon might give the appearance that someone picked the restaurant only because of the discount, and not because of its great lighting or special tapas or cool drinks menu. Even if that’s not the case (i.e. the asker has a coupon to a great restaurant that he/she already knows and loves), I’d much rather avoid the impression.
- Most coupons require that you announce the fact that you have a coupon at the beginning of the meal. Some coupons are really hard to figure out. Buy 2 entrees and get an appetizer (but not entrees in the XYZ section) or spend $50 in these categories and get 20% off. The date might feel as if he (or she) must order in a certain way because of the coupon, and that’s not cool.
- Some waitstaff are not as attentive when you mention that you have a coupon. It’s not right, of course, because people should tip on the original amount so the waiters who provide the same level of service should receive the same tip from a party using a coupon and a party that doesn’t. But I’ve gotten bad service just for only getting water and not the cocktail the waitress pushed, so.. imagine if I used a coupon. Again, having a snippy waiter is something to laugh about when you have been dating the other person for a while, but it can add to the stress on the first date.
The one thing that I don’t like is how using (or not) coupons is seen as an indication of character. For the purpose of simplicity I will make the very general assumption that men tend to ask ladies on dates and women tend to be asked (understanding that there are no hard-and-fast rules and that this gender dynamic rules out gays and lesbians).
In the ChowHound thread most of the comments either said that men who uses coupons are either financially responsible stewards of money or cheap stingy penny-pinchers. And that women who don’t like coupons are gold-diggers who are only out for a free meal ticket. I would never discount someone for using a coupon on a first date, but my personal preference is against it. But coupon is a coupon – you can’t extrapolate that one instance to make assumptions about a person’s whole financial outlook / money management skills (good or bad).
Instead of having my date use a coupon at a more expensive place on a first date, I would much rather have a first date at a cheap neighborhood place or a a taco truck. First dates don’t have to be expensive (seriously – my favorite taco joint sells $0.80 tacos – get 15 of them, grab a bottle of $6 Moscato, and take me on a picnic. I will swoon), but it should be comfortable for both people.
Coupons on first dates can bring mixed reactions, so I say it’s best to wait until the dating relationship is a little further along before those 2 for 1s and buy one get one 50% start coming out. Of course, if both people met on CouponCupid.com, then go forth and coupon!