Restaurants, cocktails, flowers, chocolates…Dating on a budget can be a real challenge. We’ve priced out what it costs the average Grownup to date, and it adds up fast.

There are many conversations woefully citing the average cost of a wedding at nearly $30,000, but few discussing the price tag of actually getting to the altar. It might seem unromantic to think about the costs of dating, but whether you’re searching for “the one” or enjoying the single life, chances are you’re spending money to do so.

Netflix and Chill is Comfortably Inexpensive

Back in 2014, USA Today found that, on average, singles spend only $738 per year on dating, which works out to a relatively affordable $61.50 per month. This number is likely artificially low thanks to those spending $0, but for the most part, young singles opt out of the expensive, traditional dinner-and-a-movie dating sequence our parents understood. Instead, Netflix, wine, and take-out will cost less than $40 when all is said and done. Millennial hanging-out and hook-up culture has gotten a lot of flack in the press, but you have to admit: It’s pretty easy on the wallet.

Twenty-somethings, on the whole, spend most of their time with a large group of friends, even if romantically involved with one of them. Dates are usually group dates, and as a result, all those Friday night beers can be attributed to going out with your crew just as much as your dating budget.

If you’re going out in a twosome, singles will spend more money dressing up for the date than they do on the actual date. In a 2014 survey from Match.com, 65 percent of daters confess to spending $50 or more on pre-date grooming and new outfits. And why not? I’ve often bought a new shirt or dress before a date, rationalizing that even if the date went badly, I’ve at least added a great new piece to my wardrobe.

Mo’ Love, Mo’ Bills

For those getting a little more serious, the costs only go up. The average couple will date for 25 months before popping the question, and during those two years, they spend big. Couples will spend about 4.5 percent of their income on eating out, and another $2,800 per year on entertainment-related expenses such as movies and concert tickets. Throw in an average of $54 per year on flowers and hundreds on Valentine’s Day gifts, supplies, and candy—and this adds $400 each year to the love budget. After a two-year courtship, a couple will have spent more than $10,000 wooing each other.

There are a Couple More Dollars Between the Sheets

Let’s not forget the more private expenses: a box of a dozen condoms costs $12, and the pill can cost a woman anywhere from $0 to $50 per month. Any additional doctor’s appointments or emergency contraceptives can easily double this budget. This brings the price tag of hooking up to anywhere from $100 to $600 per year for an individual, regardless of the label you assign (or choose not to assign) to your relationship.

All told, the average person is spending approximately $2,500 per year on dating-related expenses. No wonder we feel broke all the time! The best things in life might be free, but turns out that love probably isn’t one of them.

Bridget-Casey-Headshot
Bridget Casey writes for MoneyAfterGraduation.com.

Let's take action, Grownup.

Check out our courses to start taking action on your goals any time.

Take a course

Let's stay in touch, Grownup.