The Marriage of Romance and Frugality

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By Attiyya Anthony

Money and relationships are two things that are very dear to my heart. If you have money to spare, you are one of the select few. If you have a significant other, having low dividends can create its own headache. I, thankfully, attended college without meeting Sallie Mae, and I only hope to have a cordial relationship with her when I apply for a mortgage.

I'm in a serious, monogamous, happy relationship. When we first began dating, both of our finances were considerably low. Scratch that-we were downright broke. Love is generous, but it doesn't pay the rent, the cable or the electric bill. But just because we were poor, we didn't skimp on the things that brought us joy as a couple, like spending time together. We just had to get more creative in our approach. So, with great joy, I bring to you a couple of date ideas that will help you out when the bills are due.

Donate. You can incorporate this into your low-budget date by taking your significant other to donate blood, plasma, their luscious locks or their time. It technically isn't donating if you're being compensated, but it warrants that term because you are also saving lives. Donating plasma can get you up to $35 per weekly visit, which means couples can make up to $500 a month with regular visits. Also, if you have a head full of hair, donating it via, a hair-trading website, can pay up to $100 an inch. Pay Offs: $35?$100;

Focus Groups. A focus group can be a pretty lucrative dating gig. You two will simply be asked to share your opinions on an advertisement or product. Bigwig companies hire these market research companies to gain insight into their products. Most focus groups range from eight to 12 people and are no more than two hours. Focus groups pay immediately with cash or check after the survey has been completed. Pay Offs: $50?$300 an hour.

Use Your Credit Card. But not in that way: most credit cards offer cardholders special deals and discounts. For example, Bank of America grants its cardholders free access to over 150 museums on the first weekend of every month. Also, the major credit card issuers sponsor many sporting events and set aside special tickets at discounted prices for cardholders. Citibank will be selling presale tickets for the much-anticipated Jay-Z and Kanye West "Watch the Throne" tour. How about that for free culture? Pay Offs: $100-plus in savings.

Sit on Your Rump. If you are in a metropolitan area such as Los Angeles or New York, you can sign up to be a seat filler for major award shows. You may not get direct pay, but you will be rubbing elbows with celebrities at the MTV Awards, the American Music Awards and The Grammys. Also, try sitting in as part of a studio audience. These shows can be a lot of fun, and often give you the chance to meet celebrities, get autographs, free T-shirts, CDs, posters and other giveaways. Pay Offs: $1,000 in ticket savings.

Be in the Background. Being a background actor can actually be a lot of fun. The sessions are long, usually eight to 10 hours, but you can get up to $500 for being on set. You just have to be good at taking direction and promise not to get starstruck as your favorite celebrity walks across the scene. Some advertisements are looking for a special look-I saw one ad for a frumpy, hippie chick and her frumpy friends that paid $400 a day. If you come in as a couple, you can walk away with close to a month's rent in one day. Clients are usually compensated the day of by cash or check. Pay Offs: $200-plus per assignment

Put it Up For Sale. But don't do it online. Nix the modern eBay and Craigslist sales, and actually hold one in your front or backyard or at your local community center. As a couple, you can spend the whole day together choosing the goods to be sold, selling them and counting the profit. The fall is a good time to put items up for sale, as many consumers are browsing for interesting holiday knick-knacks for their friends and family members, and you two are looking for extra money to do the same. Pay Offs: $10?unlimited, depending on items sold.

Risk it at the Casino. If you're one of those high-risk, balls-to-the-wall couples, then taking a trip to the casino might be right up your alley. Mind you, you also need a substantial amount of luck on your side. And you shouldn't risk your last dollar. But if you have a little financial wiggle room to spare, you can make some money at the casino, as long as you know when to bow out. Pay Offs: Depends on your luck.

See, it pays to be together.

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