I’m a massive fan of online dating. If it seems sketchy to you, it’s not. Although my friend did get kidnapped once.

The internet has evolved to the point where people’s personalities really shine through. I’ve met tons of people first online and later in person. You know what? Everyone has turned out exactly as I expected.

The Benefits of Online Dating

Why do I love online dating so much? Largely because it’s a fantastic way to save time and money. With online dating sites like eHarmony, there’s a huge selection of partners to be found where a valuable vetting process can take place without physically meeting.

“Online dating is great in the sense that it puts us in front of people that we would otherwise not meet,” says Scott Smith, an editor at Consumer Advocate. “It can also be very fleeting.”

“People don’t pay enough attention to their current date, knowing they have several other dates lined up. That’s where online dating can become expensive,” Smith adds.

So if dating is a numbers game, there’s no better resource than the internet. Most online dating sites and apps show you what a person looks like, the contours of their personality through how they answer questions, and how serious (or not serious) they want the relationship to be.

And the best part is that there are some really good free dating sites and apps out there. Let technology help keep you from bad dates.

The not-so-official process goes pretty much like this: You start messaging each other. You talk on the phone, maybe do Skype or FaceTime. And then meet in real life.

Is Online Dating Worth It? How It Saves Me Time and Money. Some people claim that it's a waste, but it can actually save you both time and money. Learn how. #onlinedating #savingtips #relationships

Getting to Know Your Potential Dates

Is Online Dating Worth It? How It Saves Me Time and Money. Some people claim that it's a waste, but it can actually save you both time and money. Learn how. #onlinedating #savingtips #relationshipsIn fact, before jumping into an in-person date, experts recommend that you take some time getting to know someone and doing a call before linking up.

“It is a common problem in online dating where first dates do not always turn out as hoped or planned,” says Hope Suis, a relationship expert. “I strongly suggest a phone call before agreeing to meet someone in person. That does not alleviate the problem of them not looking like their picture, but it does give a better sense of their personality and social skills than just a few online messages.”

Give it some time. Normally, when I meet a date in person, the transition between online and offline is pretty seamless.

I give it a minimum of one week before agreeing to meet. At that point, you can be confident it’s worth your time and money to go on a date. The only bad online date I went on was when I rushed this process.

Saving Money

The money aspect of online dating is simple: You don’t waste money going on a date with people with whom you didn’t click.

Going on blind dates or taking out someone you barely know? Talk about a potential money waster. And this applies to both girls and guys. It’s the 21st century. Gone is the assumption that the guy always pays.

Suis suggests talking about splitting the bill early on. “If you do not know someone, I believe this is fair,” she says. “I do it for all my first dates — I always offer to pay my portion before the bill is presented. Once a dating dynamic has been established, then the ‘couple’ can at that point discuss who pays for what and when.”

The guy could pay, the girl could pay (I have yet to go on that date!), both guys could split the bill, both girls could split the bill — whatever the arrangement may be.

At this point, you may think I’m pretty unromantic. After all, I’m talking about money and love all in the same few hundred words. I get your point.

But taking people on expensive dates without knowing them first? I really don’t feel like blowing $100 every weekend. It’s just bad financial planning.

If I went on a bad date every weekend, that would waste enough money each year to fully fund my Roth IRA. That’s not how I want to manage my money.

My Bad Date

I once took out a girl I didn’t know very well. I met her in person and throughout dinner I found myself wondering, Why am I allowing this stranger to charge so much dang sushi to my bill? How is it all disappearing so fast? And now she wants to get ice cream. It’s 9 p.m. — is that too early for a yawn to get me out of this?

After wrapping up the night at a candy shop, I felt like I was donating to charity. I was feeding someone I hardly knew, and there was no personal benefit.

“I can understand a man feeling duped by someone who lies about their age or appearance and then feels obligated to pay for an expensive meal/date,” Suis says. “The easiest way to avoid that is to do some prep work up front. Anyone who is legitimately interested in someone will be willing to meet halfway in all aspects regarding the first encounter.”

Preventing Bad Experiences

Online dating sites help you save money because they can keep you from going on one bad date after another. Here, you weed out people who aren’t your type.

“While it seems a bit harsh, screening your date via social platforms and profiles is pragmatic for both parties,” says Ulysis Cababan, content strategist for Rapid Visa, a company that helps international couples acquire visas.

“Finding the love of your life is priceless, but the quest there is not,” he adds. “Dating is expensive and time-consuming, so this is something to consider when scheduling a first date. When red flags are depicted on social platforms and profiles, it is safe to assume you can pass on that date.”

You can tell if your personal money philosophy aligns with theirs before going on a date.

Is Online Dating Worth It? My Friend’s Take

A friend of mine recently told me that he likes online dating because both parties feel comfortable with each other more quickly than if they had asked out random people in a bar, at the mall, in class, at hot yoga, or wherever.

Dating sites ask all those deal-breaker questions from the get-go: “How serious of a relationship do you want? Do you want kids? What’s more exciting for you right now, love or fun?”

My friend went on to say that getting comfortable with each other first means that you can hang out at each other’s houses sooner. It’s a lot cheaper to have a romantic date at home than to go to a busy restaurant. That’s a good point.

What you need to remember is that online dating saves tons of time and money. When you’re not worried about these, you can focus on more important things.

Additional reporting by Jazmin Rosa.