Dating Using Discounts

Meaghan: Mike! I just read an excellent article on the Date Report that cites you as a couponing expert. Or um, quotes you about your couponing-while-dating philosophy.

Mike: I am neither a dating expert nor an expert about coupons, but I have thoughts about money! So the premise was: When is it okay to use a coupon (or Groupon, or what have you) on a date?

Meaghan: Oh man. I would probably say it’s always okay but not really ideal? You can probably laugh off anything, or get away with it by being forthright. But for a first date at least I would avoid it. Which is kind of what you said!

Mike: Right, so I think it’s okay to use a coupon/Groupon if you’re open about it, like, “Hey I have been meaning to try this place, and I have a Groupon for it, are you game?” Also, if the coupon is for a restaurant, my thoughts were that you should tip particularly well because you want to show that you’re smart with your money, but not cheap.

Meaghan: Or at least give the illusion of such, before the person learns about the real you!

Also when I read this article, I was reminded of a story from my FATHER about his first date with his ex-girlfriend/fiance/person he was with for a long time. I remembered some kind of two-for-one lunch deal and texted him to confirm the details:

“Yes. We met at Applebee’s for lunch after previously meeting six months before at a singles event. She called me and said she had a two-for-one coupon for lunch and asked me to go with her.”

Now, at the TIME I don’t remember him being critical of this bold move on her part, I think he was just excited that she called out of the blue to ask him out, and maybe charmed by her resourcefulness. But how do you think you would have reacted? Ha.

Mike: I mean, of all the things to be critical about when out on a date, using a coupon seems to me like not that much of a deal-breaker? Rude to restaurant staff is a deal-breaker. Doesn’t seem interested in anything you have to say is a deal-breaker, etc.

Meaghan: Good call. Yeah I think if you like the person you will always find a way to rationalize someone’s ‘quirks’ (ha, is coupon-ing a quirk?), but if they otherwise put you off, I would definitely be talking about the two-for-one move the next time I hung out with my friends. It’s a risk! Also I asked my dad how he felt about it, and he said, well he said a lot of bitter things about his ex! But then admitted that at the time he just thought it was smart. So there you go.

Mike: In the post, Sarah notes that the guy used the coupon just for himself and not on her (and she paid for herself). Now, I think that’s a deal-breaker. I mean, right?

Meaghan: Hah, CORRECT. If someone did that to me, you would find me just sitting there in the restaurant weeks later with my jaw dropped, dead.

Mike: What does everyone else think? Coupons on dates—yes or no?



8 Comments / Post A Comment

E$ (#1,636)

I think it’s fine if you mention it up front in the casual way demonstrated by Mike (in fact, friends have put that question to me platonically and I almost always say yes because trying new places at a discount is awesome). Problems arise when you try to cover it up.

Then again, I think comments here will naturally lean toward the frugal side and away from the side that thinks it’s not proper to do so. As a millennial lady I don’t feel I need that proof that my date can pay for a whole dinner without a Groupon — probably because I started dating in college when everyone I would have dated was the same level of broke.

samburger (#5,489)

From the article:

‘Mike Dang, editor of, a website about money and how people spend it, says, “Deal sites like Groupon have made discounted consumer experiences so prevalent that most people probably wouldn’t bat an eye if someone wanted to use one on a date. If you want to use a coupon on a date, be sure to make sure that you’d take your date to the location regardless of whether or not you had a coupon in the first place and tell your date about the coupon so it’s not awkward later.”’

Iunno, sounds pretty coupon-expert to me..

ceereelyo (#3,552)

I don’t know about other areas, but the Groupons/Living Social/etc deals for restaurants by me are nearly always places that aren’t very good, mediocre at best. Don’t get me wrong – there are some good places/hidden gems included, but I would just do a quick yelp or online check on the reviews, and like Mike mentioned in the article, a place you would’ve gone to despite having the Groupon.

muggles (#1,525)

Yeah, if it’s somewhere you already know and love, and you just happened to find a coupon for it, that’s cool… if you only picked it ’cause you knew you’d get $20 off, that seems like a potentially odd first impression. Especially on a first date, I’d much rather go somewhere that at least one of the people knows will actually be good, even if that means stepping down a Zagat star to something a little cheaper.

That being said, if it was a Groupon for an “experience” that you’d never done—go-karting or whale watching or pottery painting or whatever—that seems totally natural and depending on how it was booked, the Groupon might not even come up?

calamity (#2,577)

As long as the person remembers to tip on the original amount, not the discount, I really don’t think I’d care. I don’t really buy Groupons for restaurants often – like ceereelyo said, they’re not usually for very good places in my area – but if I ended up with one for whatever reason, I’d mention it ahead of time. Probably with an explicit “so, I don’t want you to think I’m a cheap asshole, but …” clause.

Then again, I’m also a proponent of dates specifically timed around happy hour, and a general fan of splitting the bill because I’m an independent woman & I depend on me, etc. So I’m probably not the target demographic for any guy who’s used to impressing woman by paying for their meal. Sorry dude, can’t buy my love!

This makes me laugh, because my bf is a huge groupon/coupon/saving money fiend. Sometimes it’s annoying when he doesn’t want to go to a place because he doesn’t have a coupon for it, but it’s not a huge deal. I guess he actually did use a coupon for our first date, but he used it to buy both of our tickets for an event ahead of time. I think it’s cute. When he met my mother, we went to lunch and he asked if she would care if we went to a place he had a groupon for. I didn’t think so, but we didn’t end up going there after all. Since I’m not terribly good with money (but I’m trying!), I have to say, my bf’s attention to detail in this area is a plus, not a minus.

sheistolerable (#2,382)

I think the difference is whether they’re using a coupon to pay for both of you, in which case they’re treating and you thank them no matter what, or they’re assuming you’ll pay the full amount and they get their meal for free, say if it’s one of those $25 off $50 Groupons. First, charmingly thoughtful; second, offensive!

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