Homecoming Season-Teachable Moment

I have nephews (and nieces) just beginning to go to high school dances. Their astute parents understand that date etiquette is a big deal that can get expensive —and it can vary by school and community.

Of course, Mom and Dad may or may not be privy to who gets asked. But when it comes to the money side of dating, it’s best to give young men a few pointers up front.  So…before the big Homecoming weekend, teach them…

1) Expect to pay.

Yes, asking someone to Homecoming is considered a date—not just hanging out or “going out.”

2) Figure out how much money you need.

There’s a corsage/flowers, dinner, dance tickets, gas and a car wash, photos during the dance, maybe a new shirt or tie.

3) Know the plans.

Know where to pick up your date and the arrangements for photos before the event. (Mom will be upset if she hears nothing but all the other parents show up at THE designated group photo spot.

4) Have cash in your wallet.

It isn’t cool to stop at the ATM before dinner. And, Dad isn’t there to pick up the dinner tab for you either.

5) This is not the time to pig out.

At dinner, look over the menu and don’t order the most expensive meal (unless you budgeted money to do it). When you go out with mom/dad, the family might order an appetizer to share, entrees, sodas, or perhaps desserts. You won’t want to inhale too much in front of a date, much less pay for it all. (eat a snack before you leave home if you’re that hungry)

6) Let your date order first.

Your date is in an awkward spot—she must order first and she doesn’t know what you’re thinking, or if you’re paying. Give her some clues, so she can order first, knowing that she won’t be embarrassed to order chicken or a salad.

7) Leave a tip.

Unless your dinner date only eats fast food, you’ll be at a restaurant with a waiter. The waiter needs a tip, which is 15-20% of your bill.  When you pay the bill (for you and your date), calculate 15% for poor/average service and 20% for good/great service and leave this amount near your plate.

8 “All on one bill” is messy and expensive.

Asking for separate checks is okay if you are in a group. Make sure your waiter knows you want the bill for both you and your date.  Separate checks means you don’t have to figure out yours costs of a group ticket, or pay more than your share.

9) It’s okay to split expenses later in the evening.

So you’ve paid for dinner, flowers and dance tickets.  If your date volunteers to buy the photos at the dance, that’s great.  Say yes. If you’re headed out for pizza or snacks after the dance, it’s also okay to split the bill.

10) Have fun…and don’t worry.

If you’ve planned out your expenses for the date, having enough in your wallet is not a worry.

Bottom line?  My nephew remarked to his dad, “Gee, it would be expensive to do this a lot, wouldn’t it?”

You got that right.

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