Cheap — it’s an UGLY word…


JF FACEOK folks, it’s time for me to address my least favorite word. CHEAP. I don’t even like to use the word “hate” but…I’ve gotta tell ya, I have reached a point where I do really hate the word CHEAP. It puts the person who’s using the word in a really poor light, in an ugly light…and I think ugly behavior is far worse…

Cheap is a term that I find rarely used by men. In my world as a professional matchmaker and dating coach, I often see women dismissing a man far too quickly if she senses that he’s frugal – if he is in her estimation “tight” with money. What’s frugal? Anyone who’s not jazzed to spend money the way she wants him to.

Classic example: Upon leaving the restaurant on Date Number Two with John, a successful business consultant, Claudia was miffed that he didn’t offer to spring for her valet parking. She’s concluded that he is “cheap” and wrote to me this morning saying she’s decided not to see him again.

What? Now, I happen to know that this past week John has treated this woman, Claudia to a lovely lunch at the Bel Air Hotel and he picked up a hefty dinner bill last night in Brentwood, driving across town to meet in her on both occasions. Claudia is divorced, no kids, her earnings as a CPA are comparable to his, and she receives a sizable alimony check each month from her ex. What Claudia likely doesn’t know is that John’s covering the bill for two kids in college, he’s funding his mom’s nursing care, he pays alimony to his ex, and his salary has been cut during the economic downturn. John’s a guy who is sincerely seeking long-term relationship, and whereas plenty of single men these days limit their exposure by suggesting coffee dates, John regularly opts for lunch or dinner dates with the women who intrigue him, and he never grumbles about picking up the restaurant tab.

He didn’t pounce on her valet parking ticket? She should have grabbed his ticket and graciously welcomed the opportunity to share in the expense of their date. She should be looking for an opportunity to spring for theatre tickets or to bring a gorgeous picnic lunch to the beach for their next date.

You want generosity ladies? Demonstrate it. Bring him a sweet little gift, offer to put the wear and tear on your car vs. his, invite him over for a beautifully prepared meal or use your precious points for the airline tickets or the hotels on your first vacation together.

Jacqueline complained because Bruce ordered the least expensive bottle of wine on the menu. Jennifer was irritated that Brian suggested drinks and appetizers at the bar vs. a full out meal. Amanda quickly dismissed Stuart because he had commented about the price of entrees on the menu (she had suggested they dine at Maestros – he’d never been there, and didn’t realize he had signed up for a $200 dining adventure.) Suzanne was turned off because Glen used a 2 for 1 entrée coupon.

Ladies, this behavior is gross…I say, single women who are dating should either happily offer to spring for the bill on occasion, or they should casually offer cash or throw in a credit card to share the expense, or they should just zip their lip and express sincere appreciation for the investment that her suitor is making in getting to know her. Even if it’s a lousy cup of coffee at a deli.

Gil and I have been married for 20 years, and he is admittedly one of the “tighter” dudes on the planet. If it weren’t for Gil’s insistence that we be cautious (annoyingly cautious sometimes, I’ll confess) about our spending habits, we would surely have lost our house in the financial crisis, as so many other families have. As it is, we’re doing just fine, we have learned to share expenses in partnership, and we’re building our future together. We actually have fun looking for money stretching opportunities. Is clipping coupons sexy? Well, sure – if you consider mutual support and sharing to be sexy, and I do.

Here’s what I’ve learned works really well. Just plan on the likelihood that you and the man you’re dating will have differences in how you deal with money. An expenditure that seems reasonable or important to you might be a frivolity or an indulgence to him. How to get around it? Make deals about who pays for what, be flexible, practice generosity, and above all…resist the temptation to “peg” a man as being cheap if his spending habits and preferences are different than yours

My sister’s coming into town for a visit next month. Having the carpets and the windows cleaned — I just know this is really low on Gil’s list of things to fund. And it’s important to me, so I’ll take care of it. No fanfare, no arguments, just something I’ll quietly cover, because it’s important to me.

My Client Travis is a very successful real estate investor who lives in a lovely home in Malibu. He likes his creature comforts, drives a serious sports car, always dresses well – he’s the picture of Mr. Desirable, and he’s especially sensitive to the Gold Digger factor. He shared with me his red flag – if he’s five or six dates into a new relationship with a woman he’s dating and she’s never demonstrated an inkling of generosity herself, well…he’s outta there. The woman he’s dating now handled things just right. She’s invited him to her country club for a round of golf and dinner afterwards, she treated him to the Hollywood Bowl – he knows she’s seeing him for him, not for the goodies he can provide for her.

Take the word CHEAP and discard it from your vocabulary. The millionaire next door might have gotten there by holding onto his cash…

About Julie

Julie Ferman is the Founder of Julie Ferman Associates. As a personal matchmaker, dating coach, media personality, professional speaker, dating industry consultant and events producer, her mission is to dignify and simplify the love search process for selective, relationship-minded professionals. Julie Ferman Associates provides personal matchmaking services and a full menu of dating coaching services to single men and women throughout the U.S. and Canada.

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5 Responses to Cheap — it’s an UGLY word…

  1. cupidscoach May 31, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    Fantastic idea for a great, inexpensive but entertaining first date. Thanks for sharing, Marilyn! xoxo, Julie

  2. Peter Baum April 14, 2010 at 5:42 pm #

    As always, a wonderful post, Julie. As a guy, I’ve always been sensitive about the money issue. I’m more than happy to pay *as long as I don’t feel taken advantage of*. If I’m with a woman who earns what I do, I’d expect to pick up all the expenses during the first few dates, then maybe 75% thereafter. But my current girlfriend is in a career change, so I happily pick up virtually all the expenses. Why happily? Because she treats my generosity as a benefit, not an expectation. And she does little things like buying the Sunday morning bagels or bringing flowers from her garden to decorate my place.

  3. Jeremy April 14, 2010 at 6:53 am #

    Well said Julie! Great advice.

  4. Anne Ericsson April 13, 2010 at 7:33 pm #

    Julie, I loved this blog. You are so right on! I love to cook so after a few dates I like to invite my date in for a home cooked meal that we can both enjoy!
    It doesn’t have to be fancy just from the heart. I had a Wonderful boyfriend for 2-years that passed away 2 years ago, just as we were getting engaged. I dated him in the early 80’s and we got together again in 2005. He treated me well and was a real giver. He loved when I treated him to a drink, dinner, a new shirt, whatever it was. If you give you will get back 10 times fold, even if its a warm loving smile. Now I am starting to look for someone to enjoy life with again.
    Ladies don’t miss the boat by being self serving and selfish! or cheap:-) If he can afford to take you to a nice dinner we can afford a small gesture too. You gals are lucky to have Julie on your side.

  5. Danae April 13, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    There is a difference between “cheap” and sharing the expenses. As an example, if a guy can’t buy me a cup of coffee, it is a red flag. However, if I don’t offer to buy him a cup of coffee, it should be a red flag for him too. Money is one aspect of a relationship that matters. So are other qualities as morals, sense of humor, intelligence, etc. We should be looking for our equal, or someone who is compatible. As for paying the valet ticket, it should never be expected. When you have “expectations” of someone else, you will always be disappointed. No one can live up to “expectations” imposed by someone else. We need to stop thinking “what can this person do for me” and start thinking what can we do for each other.

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