2012-02-09 / Top News

Cupid costs money: Can you afford to date?

aprilMASINI

CUPID’S ARROW STRUCK AND YOU’RE SEEING stars — and dollar signs. That sucker went right through your heart and stabbed your wallet.

Dating is expensive and it’s not taxdeductible. Do you know how much you spend on a one-night stand? Or a longdistance relationship? I do.

Even though I just got married (we saved a bundle by going to Vegas to say our vows, but that’s for another story), I can look back and tell you without a doubt that dating is expensive. Dating smart, however, is less so.

A competitive ‘sport’

How much do you want for that je ne sais quoi?

Beauty, charm and allure that reels ’em in isn’t cheap. So why do you need it? Because dating has become very competitive. 100 million Americans are single, according to the 2010 US Census report, and the most popular dating site today has 20 million members, of which 1.3 million have paid subscriptions. You’re probably thinking, what is she talking about? I could date for the rest of my life with statistics like these.

Exactly.

Rethink purgatory. If you’re not careful and you don’t date to win, you WILL be dating for the rest of your life. And here’s an idea of what you’ll spend.

One-night stands (Cheap thrills? Think again)

You brush them off as sport, but Quicken and Turbo Tax say not so fast.

¦ The taxicab home: $50 (or the parking ticket on your car because you left it somewhere to walk home with him: $35)

¦ Extra lattes and aspirin for your hangover: $15

¦ Replacing the Cosabella bra and panties you lost during the evening: $100

¦ De-briefing brunch with your best friends: $35

¦ Four pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream you consumed while waiting for him to call: $16

¦ Extra-large pizza delivery when you realize he’s not going to call: $25

You’ve picked yourself up off the floor and decided you’re going to find Mr. Right. Great. Now save yourself the $150 psychic fee and the $9.99 for a Magic 8 ball (outlook not so good) and think about what the census says: There are 88 unmarried men for every 100 unmarried women over the age of 18, and 61 percent of unmarried people over the age of 18 are women. Gulp.

High-end gyms: The new nightclubs

Men are visual and they love to work out, so if you look good and you’re working on your fitness, you’re going to have his attention. A typical 24-hour fitness-type membership is about $350 a year. On the other hand, home gyms cost about $10,000, which is actually a lot cheaper over the course of a lifetime; but save the home gym for after you’re married, because high-end gyms are the new nightclubs.

For a membership fee of about $1,500 a year, you can get fit, meet men and get to know them on the treadmill or at the bar —the smoothie bar. Budget big for sexy, cute workout clothes that show off your physique.

¦ Gym membership: $1,500/year

¦ Yoga studio class pass: $1,200/ year

¦ Gym shoes, clothes, equipment: $2,000/year

The endorphins are flowing and you’re going to take the next step…

Get the groom by being groomed

Men want women who look like they can be taken everywhere — to business dinners, on exotic vacations and home to meet the family and friends. The cost of NOT keeping yourself up is good dates.

Not wanting to get naked because you forgot to shave your legs or wax your hello kitty is a really poor excuse for avoiding intimacy or last-minute pool parties, and not wanting to put on a bathing suit because you’ve neglected the gym could cost you Mr. Right. You want to be ready to go at all times, so you should consider grooming a necessary dating investment.

¦ Haircuts: $75 every two months = $450/year

¦ Color: $100/month = $1,200/year

¦ Tipping at hair salon: $1,650/year

¦ Christmas gift: $100/year

¦ Waxing: $100/month for legs, bikini and underarms = $1,200/year

¦ Tipping aesthetician: $240/year

¦ Christmas gift: $50/year

¦ Mani/pedi: $40 every two weeks = $960/year

¦ Tipping: $192/year

¦ Facial: $75 every other month = $450/year

¦ Cosmetics and fragrance: $500- $1,000/year

¦ Massage: $150 three times a year = $450/year

¦ Annual total: $7,942

You’ve made the investment so far, so you might as well go all in. Stopping now would be a mistake. Time to go shopping.

Clothes-ing costs

Clothes might make the man, but the right clothes will make the man want to date the woman who’s wearing them.

Hate shopping? Treat it like going to the dentist — not doing it will cause you more pain than making regular visits and taking care of business.

Having too few clothes is just as bad as having too many clothes, and when it comes to clothes, more isn’t necessarily more. In “Think & Date Like a Man,” a book I wrote for women who want to find, get and keep Mr. Right, I advise women on what to buy, how much to spend and how to maintain good pieces. Among the must-have pieces: lovely lingerie, a fabulous cocktail dress, a flattering bathing suit. Be on a first-name basis with your local tailor.

¦ Average monthly clothing budget: $250-$1,000 (depending on your income)

¦ Dry-cleaning and tailor costs: $100/month = $1,200/year

You look amazing. You feel amazing. You’re going to amp up your confidence by letting the world see you.

Online dating

Photos are crucial. A good photo will generate interest in your profile, whereas a less than flattering one will land you home alone. And no photo is a waste of the membership fee. Consider having a professional photographer take some shots for you.

Don’t bother with free dating services if you want a serious relationship. You get what you pay for. Lots of people throw their profiles up on dating services just to see what comes back, without being seriously interested — or even seriously single.

¦ Photos: $250

¦ Online dating services: $50/ month per service (use more than one)

You’re getting dates and you want to bring some home to see what it’s like to have them in your abode…

Your love shack

Your home doesn’t have to be a mansion or have a view of the gulf, but men will want to hang out at your house if it’s the kind of place that makes them feel like you’re an asset because you know how to make them feel like king of a castle they could get used to. It’s a mystique you’re creating — a mystique that costs money.

¦ Two sets of Egyptian cotton sheets: $500

¦ Two sets of comforters, duvet covers and shams: $600

¦ Scented candles: $300/year

¦ Flowers: $100/month: $1,200/year

¦ Man food you wouldn’t normally buy: $250/month = $3000/year

¦ Fluffy towels: $500

¦ Housekeeper (if you’re working full time): $400/month = $48,00/year

(Single moms need: Regular babysitters: $10/hour, so $60/date night twice a week = $120/week or $6,000/year)

Decide who you want to be in a relationship, and then focus in on being that person to get the guy…

Want to be a trophy wife?

Start by looking like one. Go high-end on every category I’ve mentioned, and consider the plastic surgeon’s office as your new salon.

¦ Injections don’t really count as surgery, but you should count on paying a plastic surgeon for maintenance.

¦ Breast augmentation, lifts and other personal improvements that insurance won’t cover: $10,000- $25,000

¦ Replace dental whitening products you buy at the drug store with cosmetic dentistry veneers: up to $40,0000

¦ Like to travel? Save up your frequent flyer miles, or be prepared to pay first-class rates. And you’re not going to want to wait for the plane with everyone else, so shell out the extra couple of hundred dollars a year to become an airline executive club member, where you’ll meet men looking for trophy wives.

Cougar costs

Want a younger man? Demi Moore allegedly spent between half a million and several million on plastic surgery — and kept the guy for a long time.

You don’t have to go all-out Demi, but you probably will have to invest in some youthful measures. And you’re going to have to pick up the tab a lot more often than you would with an older man who’s more advanced in his career. You might also want to pay for his clothes and grooming.

Sugar baby

Looking for that older gentleman? Start dining at expensive steak houses and sushi restaurants where these men eat regularly. (Cha-ching!) Spring for a French class, as he’s probably going to want you to travel with him (passport: $125). Start reading classics and bestsellers, as well as the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times so you can make conversation. And take some golf lessons ($150/lesson) at upscale courses and private clubs where these guys play.

Long-distance relationships

Mutual monthly visits include crosscountry round-trip tickets in coach (about $400 with 14 days notice, so six trips on your tab = $2,400). Addon travel costs are about $2,000 for airport transport, parking your car at the airport, boarding your dog at the kennel, etc. And make sure you have an unlimited data plan to send him alluring photos to remind him what he’s missing.

Break-up costs

¦ Tissues: $20.

¦ A therapeutic makeover to help you forget who you were when you were with him: $500

¦ A shredder at Best Buy to get rid of his photos and love letters: $59.

¦ A copy of “Think & Date Like A Man,” so you don’t find yourself in this position again: $8.99.

¦ Re-booting the system to start again: You do the math! ¦

— April Masini — nicknamed “the new millennium’s Dear Abby” by the media — is the best- selling author of four books, as well as the critically acclaimed www.AskApril.com advice column and forum.

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