The First-Job Budget

Instead of pizza, a six-pack, and a Real World marathon, try cooking

Buy a pound of sashimigrade tuna and transform it into tuna tartare: Simply dice the fish and combine it in a bowl with cilantro, diced cucumber, sesame oil, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate the tuna for at least two hours or until it’s time to eat. Pick up some thin sesame crackers and chill a bottle of 2005 Banrock Station Riesling. To really impress your date, rent a copy of Splendor in the Grass or check it out for free from your library. She’ll think you’ve been replaced with your far more thoughtful and romanticstunt double. The downside to such an elaborate date? She’ll expect it on a regular basis.

What it’ll set you back … $30

Bonus Move: For just a few more bucks, serve wine out of a set of nice glasses from somewhere like

The “Got a Raise” Budget

Instead of dinner at a chain restaurant and a long, weepy chick flick Try going highbrow.

Make the most of the cultural offerings in your city and take your date to a local art or science museum. It’s a fun and cheap way to spend an afternoon, in addition to making you appear worldlier than you actually are. Move the action outdoors and squeeze out the last of autumn’s weather with a picnic. Stock up on premade gourmet food from a nice grocery store, and pack a bottle of red and a blanket.

What it’ll set you back … $100

Bonus Move For a more polished picnic, pack your food and drink in a nice tote, rather than your tailgating cooler or a set of plastic shopping bags.