With Valentine’s Day just around the corner and the nation set to spend a whopping £13.7 billion[1] on celebrating love, new research from Barclays reveals the price tag of finding it.

The research reveals that Northern Ireland comes out on top for spending the most on dates with the average date costing £155.80, triple the amount of money daters spend in Wales.


Those in Northern Ireland date the most before meeting ‘the one’ going on an average of 30 dates compared with 15 dates in Scotland and also date the longest before meeting their life partner. The UK average reveals the population spend four-and-a-half years dating while Northern Ireland daters spend almost five-and-a-half years dating before settling down.

While food (£20.05) and drinks (£16.87) are two of the biggest costs on a date, those living in the UK also spend an average of £18.10 making sure they are dressed to impress with new accessories and clothes.

It is perhaps unsurprising then that 44 per cent of people surveyed admitted that they worry about the cost of dating and 18 per cent reveal that they have had to dip into their savings to pay for a date. What’s more, 16 per cent of people have had to turn down or limit the number of dates they can go on based on their finances.

Graeme Bailing, Head of Branch Network at Barclays in Northern Ireland said: “Planning dates should be fun, whether you’re single and hoping to meeting someone, or already in a relationship and planning quality time with your other half. However, our research shows the cost of dating can really add up and nearly half of people worry about how much they’re spending.”

To try and maintain both a healthy dating calendar and a healthy bank balance, one in five (21 per cent) people set budgets for dates to make sure they don’t spend more than they can afford and over a quarter (29 per cent) of people revealed they deliberately plan cheap dates to keep costs down.

The younger generation – those aged 18-24 – splash the most cash while on dates (£118.18), however they are also more likely to split the bill fairly. In fact, 41 per cent of people aged 18-24 think that costs on a date should always be split equally, while a quarter (26 percent) think that each person should only pay for what they had. Meanwhile, a significant proportion (43 per cent) of those aged 55+ believe that the man should pay for everything on a first date.


To help the nation’s lovebirds enjoy Valentine’s Day (and beyond) without worry, Barclays has teamed up with Georgia Toffolo to offer her advice on the best dates that don’t cost the earth.

Georgia Toffolo said: “Dating is a great opportunity to meet new people, have fun and – possibly – find real love, but it is so easy for the costs to spiral if you’re regularly heading out for dinners and drinks. I’m a big believer that money can’t buy you love and this new research from Barclays supports that: being kind, funny, and keeping off your phone were found to be the best ways to impress on a date!

Graham Bailie’s top tips:

  1. Set a budget: Dating can be expensive, particularly in the early stages when the pressure to impress is on. For the sake of your finances, it’s important not to get carried away. Before going out, set yourself a realistic budget for the evening based on how much you can afford to spend.
  2. Stick to your budget: Even with the best intentions, it is easy to get carried away with spending once you are out and enjoying yourself! Consider taking your budget for the date in cash, so you can keep track of how much you have to spend, and to discourage you from going over.
  3. Bag a bargain: If you are planning on going out for a meal or to see a film, look for money-saving offers that you can use to keep costs down – there is often a deal to be had – or perhaps you could swap a night out for a night in instead!
  4. Keep on top of your finances: The best way to ensure you aren’t spending more than you can afford is to always know how much money you have to spend. While this can sometimes seem a daunting task, there are useful tricks that can help you. With Barclays Mobile Banking app, for example, you can bring your other bank’s current accounts into your banking app so you can view them all  in one place. You can also check your calendar of future payments to make sure you don’t spend money you’ll need later in the month
  5. Honesty is the best policy: Money can be an awkward topic to chat about at the best of times, let alone with someone that you are dating – but you don’t want to be putting yourself under financial pressure because you want to avoid the topic. If you are keeping a closer eye on your finances, let your date know and suggest a different activity that’s more within your budget. Cutting costs doesn’t mean cutting the fun, and they will probably be grateful about saving a few pounds themselves!

To find out more about how you can better manage your money with Barclays, visit:

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