Recently, I asked a friend of mine what kind of experience she would organise if she had only $100 to spend on a date with her new love interest.
Her reply: “That’s easy. Tuna sandwiches, water, a couple of beers and we go to the beach. Rest of money in gas.”
My response: “Could you do all of that for $100?”
Her revised date plan: “Okay. Four hops, one tuna, two water, two beers. Rest in gas.”
Given recent inflation, her plans would break the date bank. Gas alone would be at least $100.
In a recent TikTok video, popular local comedian, Keevan "Keevo" Lewis (@keevotv), gives money-saving “Budget Tips," with number 1 on his list being "Do not date outside of your constituency."
“If she living South and you living Manzan, hard luck! She have to be your penpal!” he advises.
In this light, let us also take into consideration TT citizens involved in domestic inter-island relationships/courtships. Gone are the days when unavailable flight and ferry tickets were the only obstacle to frequency of in-person contact. As of January 2023, such couples will also need to fork out $400 for return flights and $150 (or $50 instead of "free" for over-60s) for the return ferry passenger fare.
While increased travel costs will not affect or limit all local long-distance romancing citizens (whether of the South-Manzan or POS-TAB variety), there are those who may have to limit spending on visits made via car, boat or plane.
For those who fall into this category – do not let financial limitations sabotage your romantic pursuits and offerings. Consider an adaptation of the work-from-home model popularised (out of necessity) during covid and lockdowns. A similar virtual, date-from-home approach could become a natural go-to for local long-distance lovebirds seeking innovative, budget-friendly ways of managing their post-2023-budget courtship.
TTPost is an excellent support system for those exploring the date-from-home mode – either out of necessity or as a fun, creative challenge.
Using a generally-manageable $100 budget, you can create and send your love interest an interactive "Date-in-a-Pak" (using TTPak). At $25 (small), $28 (medium) and $30 (large), with an estimated time frame of two days for delivery (weekends included) the plastic TTPak courier envelope is an excellent vehicle for transmission of appropriately-sized romantic elements required for your date-at-a-distance.
Opting for the largest ($30) size TTPak leaves you with $70 to spend on items that will help create an experience for you and yours to enjoy together – virtually, via Zoom or WhatsApp video, etc.
Being creative with the budget items you purchase, make or already have at home for the $100 "Date-Pak," you can transform "cheap date" into a positive concept. Eg, send your date romantic ambient lighting in the form of a candle. Affordable ones include the kind that many citizens already have at home for use during electrical outages.
Appeal to his/her aromatic senses with a pack of incense (only about $10, depending on brand and place of purchase).
Satisfy his/her taste buds with a variety of sweet and savoury snack selections to be consumed while you spend quality virtual time chatting, entertaining each other, listening to playlist soundtracks and/or playing a game on a free downloaded app. Easy-to-post beverages include teabags or sachets of powdered drink mixes.
For those who are following Keevo’s advice and dating within the same constituency, elevated gas and domestic-travel prices will not be a factor. Enjoy a pleasant stroll or bike ride to the chosen dating destination.
Only if the experience includes culinary elements might elevated food/drink prices be a concern for the budget-conscious dater.
Thankfully, there are places that can cater with quality to a $100 budget. For example, if you and your same-constituency paramour are based in Crown Point/Bon Accord/Canaan, then Tracy’s Bakery & Café (upstairs Pennysavers Mall) is an ideal go-to.
While there on Thursday purchasing an item, I asked what two people with $100 between them could enjoy at their establishment. The following options fall within that suggested "cheap date" budget:
Breakfast date: Two cappuccinos, two eggs any style with bun or croissant
Lunch date: Two roasted veggie wraps or two salmon salads/salmon sandwiches with two bottles of local juice/water
Take-away picnic date: Two bottles of water/local juice with $80 left to spend on cookies, pies, cupcakes, Danishes, slices of chocolate covered banana bread (approximately $10 each).
In our world of consistently increasing food, travel and other day-to-day prices, cheap dates may very well become the new normal.