After two years of staying home, parents are finally able to enjoy a date night without the kids. Or can they? The rising costs of everything from babysitting to restaurant food has made it harder to enjoy a night away from home for many Americans. How much more expensive has date night really gotten thanks to inflation?
Babysitter Pay Reaches Record Highs
First, consider the cost of merely getting out of the house without your offspring in tow. Perhaps a pricey and stressful proposition, unless you have friends or family members willing to watch the kids for free. If you do decide to hire a private sitter, the cost of doing so has skyrocketed due to demand in 2022.
GOBankingRates recently reported that babysitters can now earn as much as $30 an hour, although the average rate, according to Care.com, is $18.05 an hour. Splitting the difference between those two numbers results in a cost in the neighborhood of $24 an hour. If you stay out for three hours to enjoy dinner and some drinks, the babysitting bill could be nearly $75, compared to the $45 it would have cost in early 2020, pre-pandemic.
Food Away from Home, or Rising Restaurant Bills
The aforementioned babysitting prices are steep and may, in fact, represent the largest relative increase of all date night expenses. However, food away from home costs 7.4% more than it did last May, and 0.7% more than it did in April 2022.
For example, you might have spent $100 on a casual chain restaurant meal for two. Today, that same meal will cost you at least $107.40, with the 7.4% increase in the price of “food away from home.”
And then there is the tip. The standard tip for waitstaff used to fall between 14% to 17%, according to Etip.io. But today, some restaurants are adding an automatic tip of 20% to the bill. And even if the gratuity is not automatically included, when restaurants “do the math” for you and recommend a tip, the suggested amounts often start at 20%.
Since the tip is supposed to be calculated before tax, which varies by state, and other fees, let’s assume you’ll leave a tip of $21.48 on that $107.40 bill. By comparison, a 15% tip on a $100 restaurant bill would have been just $15.
Of course, you can save money on this portion of your date by watching out for hidden restaurant fees. Or you can spend that time enjoying your significant other’s company. After all, you’re paying more for your meals now than you would have pre-pandemic, but that doesn’t come close to the amount you’re paying to enjoy your date’s company without kids.
Uber Surcharges Still in Effect
Let’s say date night involved a few adult beverages, meaning that you’ll need a taxi or a rideshare service. But that Uber ride will cost you more than it did before the Russia-Ukraine war. Uber is still charging a $0.55 fee on all rides, although the rideshare and food delivery service announced it will end the $0.45 fuel surcharge for UberEats on June 15, 2022, Thrillist reported.
Overall, the cost of transportation services has risen 7.9% since May 2021, and is up 1.3% in May after a 3.1% jump in April 2022.
Date Night Clothes
After nearly two years of living in yoga pants or sweats, you may want a new outfit for date night. Expect to pay roughly 5% more than you would have last year for apparel, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index report. The price of clothing dropped by 0.8% in April, but jumped up by 0.7% in May, bringing consumers roughly back to February 2022 prices.
Tips to Save Money on Date Night
Obviously, the best way to save money on date night is to find a friend or family member willing to babysit for free. But that’s not always an option for couples.
You can choose less expensive places to eat. Or skip the drinks so you can drive your own car to and from the restaurant. Better yet, find a place within walking distance of your home if you live in an urban area or walkable community.
Consider options that don’t cost much money at all, like packing a picnic lunch and relaxing at a local park, going hiking, or bicycling together.
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