Skip to main content
Dating can be expensive, particularly for students on a tight budget.

And especially when it comes to special occasions, we know how tempting it can be to impress partner with a gift that may be a little out of your price range. We can’t all buy a $60,000 butterly necklace for our significant other. That got us thinking about some of the common money mistakes students make when dating, and how to avoid them:

1. Being Too Generous or Overspending

Sure, being generous is a nice trait to have. But when funds are limited, you need to get real about what you can afford and how you’ll pay for a gift. For example, if you’re using a credit card, will you be able to pay the amount in full by the due date, or will you have to carry a balance that accumulates interest? If you don’t have the money already saved, there are a couple of options to help keep you on budget:

  • Find the money. Temporarily cut back on another area of your spending to find the money you need, for example, brown bag it for a few weeks or skip yoga class for a month and do it at home instead. Or, take on some extra shifts at work, if possible, to earn the shortfall.
  • Get creative. Look for thoughtful, inexpensive or even free stuff to do on a date, like a cool art show or picnic in the park – extra points if you plan a fun winter picnic! If you’re celebrating a special occasion, get creative and use your talents to impress your date, whether that’s making a meal, writing a song or creating a piece of art.

2. Not Realizing That Small Purchases Add up Quickly

Mani-pedis or a new outfit may seem like must-do’s for dates, but even small expenses can lead to overspending. This is where tracking and reviewing your purchases on the regular will help. Check out tools like RBC’s recently launched NOMI Insights and NOMI Find & Save, which uses predictive technology and artificial intelligence to help you better understand your spending, and helps you save automatically.

3. Not Having a Plan

It’s easy to bust the budget on unexpected costs. Socializing is important, but so are your finances and you’ll need a plan to stick to in order to avoid overspending. Limit yourself to one restaurant meal per paycheck, and think of cheaper alternatives (go out for appetizers but make dinner at home). Plan ahead for dating-related expenses by including them in your entertainment budget.

4. Spending Based on the Feels

Whether that’s love, loneliness or something else, a lot of people spend money because it makes them feel good – at least in the moment. Avoid regret by taking an honest look at your spending habits and find the triggers that made you spend more than you could afford. If you’re worried about not being able to pay for the date or gift, then it may be worthwhile to take a step back and take another look at your budget.

These tips are for your love life, but for all-round student finance tips, check out RBC's Student Hub.