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Meredith Fineman Headshot

On Money & Dating.

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Let's talk about budgeting. Something I'm terrible at sometimes. As in, this past weekend in Atlantic City, I bought a magnet that said "Oops, I spent the grocery money on shoes again." Which is weird, because I don't remember licensing my own sentiments and statements for reproduction on fridge appliques. I'm probably owed some royalties, but I'm too busy being buried under a pile of receipts from Bloomingdales.

I received an apropos question on the FFJD Formspring (srsly, ask me anything! Like, "whatever happened to Missy Elliot?" or "my boyfriend smells, what do I do?" or "can I intern for FFJD?" The answer to all of the above is yes. But only if you're willing to apply body glitter to my feet on the hour, every hour.

The question posed, aside from shoe-shopping, was actually about budgeting while dating. And while most of us don't have Benjaminz coming out the yin-yang, it's an important thing to consider.

Money in general is sticky - awkward, polarizing, and difficult.

Whether it's remembering to pay your Comcast bill on time (SERIOUSLY what are you charging me for, all I watch is E! and Cake Boss) or trying to figure out whether or not you can spend a little more for that extra spicy tuna roll, money is hard. Rent and health insurance and shoes are very difficult to juggle.

Money issues are even harder when it comes to dating. Finances ends about 75% of marriages (I made up that statistic, but I know it's high).

I get asked a lot about money and spending on a first date. Overwhelmingly, I think that it's just important you go somewhere thoughtful over nice. Or at least somewhere you can talk to each other.

More than anything, it's important to be conscious of someone else's financial situation before you plan on dates. There was an instance where I suggested a fancy place (too busy thinking about that mysterious freckle on my Skinny Arm and whether or not my pinkie toe is supposed to curve in that direction) and a guy took me there at my suggestion. I later found out he was on a serious budget, and felt like a colossal asshole for not being more sensitive.

Be more sensitive, but also speak up if somewhere is absolutely out of your budget. Not only should you not resent someone for making you go somewhere that will impact your spending abilities, but also just suggest a different spot.

If you have different budgets, there are still a lot of great things that you can do for an inexpensive date. The point is you're trying to get to know someone, and not their wallet. If that's what you're going for, so that you can be on Real Housewives and wear only rhinestone tops and wedges (seriously, something about rhinestone/beaded tops and Real Housewives go together like FFJDers and butter spray), well...I'll pretend I'm not judging you.

Often it can be intimidating for guys to try to keep up with a girl who not only makes her own money but also has a higher standard of living. It's something that men have to deal with more than women - keeping a girlfriend or hookup in the style to which she has become accustomed - which is one peppered with manicures, trips, and JBrands.

In the way that there is pressure from men to wine and dine you, there can be pressure to offer up some Hanky Panky as a thank you. You want to own what you have and where you come from, so you should never feel any pressure to hook up with someone just because they've spent money on you. You're not here for tit for tat, literally. Dating can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be.

There are plenty of ways to have fun without spending a lot of money - art galleries and museums, picnics (just be sure not to get ants in your pants/jeggings), dinners at home/ordering in, a comedy show or stand-up, eating at home and then going out for a drink (latent alcoholism, but I do like a nice cocktail). If you're going out with a guy, be thankful and let him treat you. You don't owe him a makeout.

You just have to be a little more creative with the money you do have. Which is what matters anyway - everyone can spend money on someone for a first date, but not everyone can cook up something good.

(ZING!)

What do you think?

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