(Re)Creating Carly

{May 12, 2013}   To Date or Not to Date? — That Is the Question

When I embarked on my quest to become debt-free, I decided that dating couldn’t be part of the equation. You see, when I’m dating, I have the tendency to spend a lot of money–on clothes, on my hair, on my nails, and if I really like ’em, on the guy. In fact, when scrutinizing my past credit card statements to try to figure out how the !$%@ I got myself in this mess, I noticed a GIGANTIC spike in spending during my last relationship with Mr. TooGoodToBeTrue.

So for the past few months, I’ve been lying low, focusing solely on paying down my debt. But ya know what they say — it’s lonely on the bottom. And sometimes I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. I recently read two posts–Budget and the Beach’s, Confessions, lamenting singledom, and My Everyday Power Blog’s, Start Before You Are Ready, which had this little gem in it:

credit: everydaypowerblog.com

credit: everydaypowerblog.com

They got me debating the age old question–to date or not to date?– all over again.

I’m turning 39 in a few months. I should feel some sort of pressure about that, right? I don’t really — partly because I live in the Singles Capital of the World, and partly because I’ve loved and lost and loved and lost and… well, you get the idea. I’ve been there, done that. And I’m freakishly okay with not doing it again.

Sort of. Every now and then that little meddler inside my head starts whispering things about how nice it’d be to be in love again. How nice it’d be to have a life partner to share all the highs, lows and plain ol’ middles with. She also has no problem reminding me that I’m not getting any younger. Asshole.

But I’m afraid of a couple of things. First, I’m worried that dating will keep me from reaching my financial goals. For me, trying to date while recovering from debt is a little like a recovering alcoholic getting a job as a bartender.  I just know I’m going to spend a lot more money. And, second, I hate the idea of having to tell a potential love interest that I’m a financial disaster (for the moment, anyway). When you meet someone you like, you just want it to be all wow-you’re-so-awesome and i-can’t-believe-someone-as-amazing-as-you-exists. Or something like that. But when you also have to slip in, “By the way, I’m in massive amounts of credit card debt and my fun for the week consists of Swiss Miss and microwave popcorn,” suddenly, awesome-and-amazing takes a sharp dive towards he’s-just-not-that-into-you. Or so I’d imagine.

If I woman up and wait a year until I’m happily in the black, I can step back out into the dating world a financially secure love-seeking machine.  But, if I wait until, as the quote above says, “I’m ready,” maybe I’ll be waiting for the rest of my life. And, just maybe, I’ll miss out on something awesome-and-amazing right now.

What’s a broke girl to do?

I’m still leaning towards not dating for the moment–mostly because I’m pretty happy on my own, and love being focused solely on lil ol’ me for a change, but, I’m curious–What would you do? Have you ever dated while on a budget? How did you manage?


Thanks for the mention! That is a tough call because when I briefly dated a guy in Dec I noticed my spending going up on things like wanting to look pretty and do some fun things. It didn’t work out, but during that time I did tell him that I was on a pretty tight budget and so we started doing more frugal things together. I think the right guy won’t care as much as you think…although “attracting” guys might be more of an issue say if you’re not going out much…unless you’re online dating of course. One thing I do know is that men overlook a LOT of things when they are in to their ladies. I would say if you’re not feeling it, don’t put pressure on yourself to do it, but if there comes a time you want to, don’t let debt stop you…just figure out some plan b’s for what you used to spend money on (borrow cute dresses from friends, learn how to do your own mani/pedi, come up with frugal date ideas). Good luck! I still don’t know what I’m going to do. I just hate the “process” of dating overall. I’m just seriously lazy about it.

Carly says:

You’re welcome — and great advice! I think my issue is that I’m just not psyched with myself for being in this situation and want to get out of it as quickly as possible. And totally agree, the process of dating–especially online dating–is pretty tedious. I kind of think it’s best when these things arise without a lot of conscious effort anyway. But how often does that happen? Especially when you’re stuck in your living room with Swiss Miss and microwave popcorn… Good luck to you, too!

Tony says:

My spending went up quite a bit over the past few months as I have been on many first dates. It is getting better now that I have reached date number 6 with one woman. She is willing to split bills and usually has one glass of wine at most. Guys will often pay for everything at first, sometimes to impress (I keep telling myself “Stop doing that!”) and oftentimes it just seems expected socially. Not very equitable, true. It is also true that if the woman never picks up at least her half of the tab, she ‘loses points’ in the guys mind. But putting a positive spin on this, a guy normally appreciates a woman that has goals in life. If you explain your goal of being debt-free, a decent guy is probably going to think you’re awesome for doing it and will be accommodating with frugal entertainment choices. Or, you could just try and find a sugar-daddy! :~)

Carly says:

Yes, guys definitely get the short end of the stick when it comes to picking up the first date tab. Congrats on getting to date number six! And, ha! I am soooo not the sugar daddy type! 🙂

Elaine says:

A relationship is a lot of work in many aspects. (the getting to know each other and what is acceptable for both) and that’s where the expense comes in. You never know when you are going to meet Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong as time sometimes proves the latter, but you are on the right track as far as the budget goes and have made great progress. Still lots of time for the other to happen.

Carly says:

Haha, yeah.. Just what I need right now–more work! And, yes, plenty of time for Mr. Right, or Mr. Wrong… 🙂

[…] To Date or Not to Date? – That Is the Question (recreatingcarly.wordpress.com) […]

Carly says:

Thanks so much for the mention!

Hi Carly! You’ve taken control of your life, just by making the commitment to become debt free and maybe you’ll find that you’re more confident and attract a different type of person. Prior to making my commitment I was looking for someone to support me in hopes that my debt would just magically disappear. My financial stress was clouding my judgement in picking a boyfriend but now that’s not a priority anymore. I think you should go on dates if you want to. You don’t have to tell him about your situation off the bat anyway, and the right person will be a support system. As far as spending money on primping, etc? If a guy isn’t going to like you because you nails aren’t done, then he’s not worth your time anyway!

Carly says:

Isn’t it funny how we can convince ourselves that some relationship will come along and solve all our problems, whatever they may be? I spent so much time in denial of my financial situation, but you’re so right– when we make the decision to deal with our issues, it changes our perspective on what we really want in life/relationships. And so true about the nails, etc… I think the primping was more about me feeling my best. But now that I’m saving so much money not doing these things constantly, I’m feeling my best in a totally different, and probably more authentic, kind of way.

Wow – tough question. I think it’s admirable that you are correcting your financial habits which brought you into debt. Dating is all well and good, but just eliminate all of the fluff. By fluff I mean – wear something nice you already own, do your own nails, and let the guy see who you are. If going on a date with a guy means you have to spend a lot of $$ to look different than you do on a day to day basis, then who needs it!

As to the spending money on that special someone…well – it is tough. Anytime you love someone you want to show them you love them and of course our society tells us in order to do this we have to spend money and give lots of THINGS. Instead, try things that don’t cost much – fixing a candle light dinner at home, sending a thoughtful ecard (yes you can find good FREE ecards online), writing a letter, watching a movie at home with a bowl of popcorn and Swiss miss can be romantic too – you just have to have the right attitude. 🙂

All in all, it’s not a bad thing to date while being debt conscious. You can still be thrifty – you may even have a better chance at finding mister right this way. I promise – there are lots of guys out there who dream of finding a thrifty gal. Good luck!

Carly says:

Thank you — and so true! I think there’s some pressure to “keep up” here in NYC (like everywhere, I think) and I’ve definitely fallen victim to it in the past. But I love doing simple, low-cost things like the ones you mention. To me, the simple things are so much more romantic anyway. The good news is that me feeling my best no longer comes from a new outfit or haircut, but from being in charge of what really matters in my life. Thanks for the well wishes!

Oh yeah – there is pressure to dress in the latest fashion and have the best pedi / mani here in the Raleigh NC area as well. I just decided to say “screw it” a while back once I realized how much I was spending on things that did not last long at all. It’s tough learning to save money and go without things you’ve been used to. It sounds like you’re on the right track and I look forward to your next post!

Brinda says:

Carly I may not be the right person to comment here – for one, I’m an incurable optimist and two, believe in having the cake and eating it too, but I cannot resist 🙂 here goes –
All my instincts scream out that you should not stop dating. I think you can find a creative way to manage the investment in those dates and I also would say that waiting for a year for a ‘perfect’ ‘you’ may not pay off. I know you – and think that you are already perfect, and whoever gets you is damn lucky, so please do not underplay your own self– just keep an open mind and let it happen 🙂

Carly says:

Hi Brinda! So happy you chimed in! Thank you for the kind words — you are so sweet. And I think you’re right–waiting for the ‘perfect me’ (according to me) will probably be a verrrrry long wait! Keeping an open mind with it all is probably the better plan.

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