How Much Should a Man Spend on a Date? Hundred-Year-Old Advice

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, June 4, 1913: Nothing doing, therefore not worth writing about.

dirt.road

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’ll share some advice an advice columnist named Aunt Harriet gave a young man in the April, 1913 issue of Farm Journal.

(An aside—I’m amazed that Farm Journal had an advice columnist years ago.)

“How much should I spend on a day’s outing with a young lady I hope to win for my wife?”

When it comes to saying just how much a man should spend on amusements, no stranger can advise. The young man who lives in a scenic district of the United States, writes me, “How much should I spend of a day’s outing when we take a trip over one of our mountain railroads?”

Having invited a young lady to accompany him on such a trip, he should pay all of the necessary expenses, such as carfare, carriage hire, fees, etc.

If the luncheon is not carried along, he pays for this, at a convenient café, and to these necessary outlays, he may add any extra which appeals to their tastes, –a box of candy, a package of picture post cards, a glass of soda water, or any pretty souvenir, which might serve as a memento of a pleasant day’s outing.

Take along enough money to provide for emergencies. The unexpected will sometimes happen, –an accident, a storm, perhaps, something to prevent the carrying out of your plans. Of course your first thought will be the comfort and safety of your companion, and the extra money will ease your way.

In attending a place of amusement, the legitimate expenses are the price of admission and transportation to and from the building. Select as good seats as you can afford; they need not be the most expensive in the house. You can, if you choose, send flowers to the young lady on the day of the entertainment; the florist will help you decide, and the young lady will wear them.

There may be a supper afterwards, but this is not in good taste unless you are in a party. A girl and a man, alone in a restaurant late at night are subject to criticism. As prices vary in different localities, I am sure my young men friends will understand that is impossible for me to state definitely how much they should spend.

30 Responses

  1. Everything accounted for :)

  2. Wauw…I think this should be printed into a nice leaflet and handed out to young men at schools, work, home;0) Who can’t be charmed by a young man who follows the rules and advise of Aunt Harriet? Thanks for sharing Sheryl!

  3. I wonder if Helena had any flirtations or love interests up until this point? (Both her boredom and the notion that dining together alone in the evening was frowned upon…no wonder the mores of the flapper era were waiting in the wings to pounce!)

    • She had a crush on a guy in 1911 and early 1912, but I don’t think that it went anywhere–and I’m not even sure if the guy knew that she liked him. She hasn’t mentioned any guys recently–which (if I try to ignore that it’s my grandmother) seems a bit sad.

  4. This should still apply today! Except the wearing of flowers… ;)

  5. Very good advice. However to bring it up to date, if the lady invites the man perhaps she should cover the expense. The man may not have the money to cover the cost. When I was dating my wife over 40 years ago many dates were “Dutch Dates”. This meant we split the cost. Some of our best dates was just walking around town holding hands and talking. Simpler times I guess.

  6. I, too, was surprised with the advice column. It was only a few years later Emily Post published her book on etiquette, though, which to me is along the same line of thinking.

    • Until I read your comment I hadn’t thought of Emily Post’s etiquette book in years. I can remember reading it when I was a teen. One of my friends and I couldn’t imagine our friends and neighbors following some of the advice, and used to think that some of the rules were very funny. I’ll have to look for it at the library–it would be fun to read it again.

  7. That day sounds like a special outing to me. Having flowers sent to the home sounds so romantic.

  8. I love history and seeing how authentic and thoughtful people used to be. Look forward to learning more about your grandma!

  9. My, how times have changed!

  10. […] Yesterday, I posted Aunt Harriet’s answer to the question, “How much should I spend on a day’s outing with a young lady I hope to win for my wife?” […]

  11. That kind of outing would make any young woman feel very special!

  12. I’ve been ‘off the market’ for so long I forget what it’s like but I never expected a guy to pay for everything even if he invited me out. If he bought dinner, I’d offer the movie or if it was just a movie, I’d offer to get treats. I don’t remember any guy (including my husband) say “absolutely not”, LOL so I think they appreciated it.

  13. Sheryl,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2013/06/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-june-7-2013.html

    Have a great weekend!

    • Thanks for letting me know. I’m always honored when you include A Hundred Years Ago in your Fab Finds list. There’s some wonderful blogs on it–and I encourage my readers to explore some of them.

  14. “There may be a supper afterwards, but this is not in good taste unless you are in a party. A girl and a man, alone in a restaurant late at night are subject to criticism.”
    Odd, dinner and a movie are like the most popular date activities today!

  15. […] How Much Should a Man Spend on a Date? Hundred-Year-Old Advice […]

  16. […] How Much Should a Man Spend on a Date? Hundred-Year-Old Advice […]

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