Blogs | February 13, 2019

Using a voucher for Valentine’s Day dinner: go or no go?

We might expect that paying for Valentine’s dinner with a voucher would be coldly received, but nowadays, frugality is sexy. Emma Woollacott explores the topic.


The candles flicker as you finish your coffee after a delicious meal and a bit too much wine. Your companion gazes adoringly at you: your Valentine's Day dinner couldn't have been more perfect.

And then the bill comes – and your date whips out a money-off voucher. Does the evening still feel quite so romantic?

In a lot of cases, most people have a positive reaction to their date using a coupon to help pay for a first date. With many facing economic challenges, a touch of frugality seems to be an appreciated trait in a partner, especially if they’re open about it.

Being frugal is cool
In surveys, many people say that they'd be quite happy with this situation. In 2012, for example, more than a quarter of interviewees told CouponCabin that they'd have a positive reaction to their date using a coupon to help pay for a first date – and a quarter said they'd done it themselves.

Last year, a similar survey from MoneySavingExpert found that while older women generally weren't happy for their first date meal to be paid for with a coupon, fewer than one in five men or younger women thought it was a dealbreaker.

"Two-for-one restaurant vouchers have been around a while, and not just for cheap chains – even some Michelin-starred restaurants have offered them," comments founder Martin Lewis.

"Surely it’s better to go somewhere nice that you can afford, rather than shell out a large wad just for the sake of being seen to."

Meanwhile, a poll by Slickdeals found that frivolous overspending was a total date-ruiner for as many as 66 per cent of Americans.

"Making smart purchase decisions and looking for deals or coupons is becoming mainstream – it’s what savvy consumers do because they are financially wise," says CEO Josh Meyers.

As we are in an uncertain economic state, with many tightening their belts, frugality isn’t necessarily something to be frowned upon in the dating game anymore.

In fact, as the results from both surveys show, it could score you some points with your date.

It’s all about the execution
However, the respondents in these surveys might not be fully representative of the rest of the population.

These people were most likely frequent visitors of the likes of MoneySavingExpert and Slickdeals meaning that they were already actively looking for deals, coupons and other ways to save money.

The fact that they would appreciate frugality in a potential partner shouldn’t come as a surprise. And their attitude isn’t shared by everyone.

The topic has been talked about on discussion boards and forums, and the consensus seems to be that it's a question of how it's handled.

"If a guy said to me, "So, I have a gift card for this awesome restaurant/theater/whatever I've been wanting to check out. Do you want to take advantage of a free adventure with me?" I think I'd be fine with it," one Reddit poster writes.

But another comments: "Whether you're male or female, if you're picking up the tab on a date you want to leave the impression with the other person that you're financially viable - with cash or a working credit card."

There are similar concerns with any freebie – especially when the occasion is as emotionally charged as Valentine's Day.

How would you feel, for example, if you discovered that the Valentine’s chocolates you've been given were a regift, a present your date didn't want themselves?

The gift of regifting
Research shows most people are pretty relaxed about regifting – as long as they're the recipient, rather than the giver.

In a study from Stanford Graduate School of Business, the Harvard Business School and the London Business School, participants were asked to imagine that they'd recently been given a watch as a graduation gift.

Givers were asked to imagine that the receiver had either regifted the watch to a friend or had thrown the watch away, while receivers were asked to imagine that they had either regifted or binned the watch.

"Over and over again, participants who had received gifts and were told to contemplate regifting thought that the original givers would be more offended than givers reported feeling," the researchers say.

The team didn't ask whether people would have felt the same about a Valentine's Day gift – but it's a fair bet that it would make a difference.

Of course, if you are planning on using a voucher to pay for your Valentine's dinner, nothing should stop you from doing so.

If your date enjoys the fact that you’re frugal, then maybe they’re a keeper!

Peer effectsValentine's day

eZonomics team
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