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Welcome to the club, freshly single man, you are now officially divorced. We don’t hold any secret initiation rituals. Why? Because we can’t afford it!

Divorce isn’t cheap and, at this point, a big chunk of your salary has likely has gone to pay for an attorney while what’s left over is for essentials like rent, electricity and your favorite streaming service.

That leaves very little for a whale of a time living on peanut butter crackers and crashing poker games to pick up stray chips on the floor. Yet as much as you can’t fathom the thought of dating again, eventually you will realize that is futile and it’s time to hit the scene.

Take notes, fellow club member, you have to get real creative at times, juggling reading by candlelight and showing a potential lady friend a good time.

There are many books and articles on dating after divorce. Read them if you must, but you can throw a lot of that advice out the window. It’s not 1975, and unless you’re Adonis or have the confidence of Leonardo DiCaprio, meeting potential suitors at the grocery store or gas station is rarer and rarer these days. Hitting the club sounds good in theory, but paying $15 for a round of drinks is going to suck your dating money dry quickly.

An online dating subscription may be the more affordable way to go. Online dating isn’t exactly cheap either, but take my advice and it can be worth it. It’s a new thing for you, and you can go at your own pace until you finally get the confidence to actually ask someone out.

My Dating Experiences

My first date after my divorce was a combination of excitement, nerves and thoughts like, “How in the world can I afford this and still text her the next day when they shut off my phone?” I’m old school and believe chivalry isn’t dead, so in my world, as long as we aren’t eating truffle oil–infused brownies for dessert and putting away bottles of Hennessy like water, I’m paying and it’s not even up for debate. Of course, sushi dinners and a few drinks will get expensive, and are not something you can afford all the time.

Luckily, I knew how to operate a stovetop for more than scrambled eggs, and you, new club member, should figure that out as well.

I would always suggest a first date be somewhere in public, so there is no getting around a hit in the wallet there. But if there is some chemistry, you can have a much cheaper second or third date with dinner and a movie at home. Pick up the dirty clothes and stuff them under the bed, get the weeks’ worth of dishes out of the sink and tidy up your place. Make a nice dinner, go for a walk at a nearby park and then watch a movie. It’s much cheaper than a night out, and there is a good chance your date hasn’t had a home-cooked meal in eons.

Be wary of wooing with fancy dinners all the time, though. Instead, hook potential SOs on the first date by being yourself, and then let your character do the rest. Research free and low-budget activities in your part of the world. I can’t stress enough, you learn more about a person walking in a park or treating a department store as an air-conditioned exercise track than by listening to loud music and sweating how much you have in your checking account.

You’re part of the Divorced Club now, and while you may not have chosen entry, mentally you will embrace it — and then wear it like a boss. Dating doesn’t have to be expensive if you don’t want it to be. Bone up on your kitchen skills and realize that popcorn and a HDTV are much cheaper at home than a movie theater.

[Editor’s Note: As your finances recover from your divorce, you can keep track of your goals, like building a good credit score, each month on Credit.com.]

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.

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