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Online Dating on a Budget

Online dating sites are everywhere these days. Online dating is, by many estimates, one of the fasting growing internet-based businesses generating tens of billions of dollars annually for literally thousands of websites. The reason for this is simple enough: in a world where you can effectively buy, trade or do just about everything on your computer, why would finding a mate be any different? There is a far larger variety of people you can meet than would be available to you in your own town or city, and the convenience (not to mention the initial anonymity) of online dating means that you can essentially do it whenever you have a bit of free time, with hardly any preparation at all. You don’t need to look good to enter a chat room, and your hair needn’t be combed to exchange private messages. If you are interested in meeting someone who lives across town, there are sites for that – and if you are interested in getting to know someone on the other side of the world, it’s as close as the next keystroke. Today, a man from Cleveland can form a relationship with a woman from Russia as easily as he can form a relationship with a woman ten blocks away from him.

Although there is a seeming endless range of online dating sites from which to choose – catering to every taste and preference imaginable – virtually all of these sites have one very important thing in common. They charge for their services and, in some cases, the charges can be quite considerable. In these current times of economic uncertainty and belt tightening as far as disposable income is concerned, it is important to make certain that you spend your online dating dollars in a way that gives you both the best chance of finding what you are looking for and fits both your budget and your personality. In order to do this effectively, you will need to determine both what kind of services a site offers as well as what kind of services you will need.

* Subscription only sites – Increasingly, many of the larger Online Dating Services – both national and international – have become “subscription only” sites. What this means is that the service charges its customers a monthly, quarterly, bi-annual or annual flat membership fee which then gives access to the various services the site provides. These flat fees will vary but, depending on the online Dating Service, can be quite expensive. The up side of these sites is that once you have paid your done until it is time to renew, and you have access to all of the site services.

There are, however, a couple downsides to these sites. The first is that once you have paid in most cases that’s it, there are no refunds. That means that if you buy a one year subscription and find your perfect match in three months and no longer require the site’s services, you’ve paid for them anyway. A second downside is that, in many cases, people don’t need all the services that a site has to offer, but end up paying for services that they don’t use with their subscription.

Before deciding on a subscription only service, make certain that you check out what services you will and won’t be using, as well what (if any) refund policy they have should you be lucky enough to find your perfect match quickly.

* Pay-per-use services – An alternative to the subscription only online dating service is the pay-per-use service. Essentially, these services operate by selling points or credits to their customers, and then charging their customers a set number of these points or credits per service the customer chooses to use. For instance, access to a private chat room may cost 20 points, while searching someone’s profile might cost 3 points – and so on. There is no subscription or membership fee, however very little (if anything) is free on these sites – and that includes even basic things like profiles of potential people you might want to get to know.

The obvious advantage of the pay-per-use services is that you ONLY pay for the services you are interested in. For example, if you don’t care about streaming audio or video within the service, you don’t need to pay for them. If you would rather chat, you can choose to spend your money on chat rooms or instant messaging – depending on what the service provides. In essence, you control how and where you spend your money. The disadvantage is that everything will cost you, even the most basic services.

* Combination services – Perhaps the most cost effective innovation in the online dating world is the combination service. Basically, these services offer a combination of the previously two listed types of services, offering their customers the maximum control over their online dating budget. In general, these services offer membership packages at a nominal monthly change (and in many cases free) which includes access to their basic services – such as looking at profiles and pictures, how-to articles and other online databases. Additional services – such as streaming video, private chat rooms, etc – cost points or credits and are not included in the basic membership price. What these types of services do is offer the things that everyone needs to date online as part of their membership, and charge only for the specialty services that customers choose to avail themselves of – keeping how much a customer chooses to spend firmly in his or her hands.

The bottom line with any online dating service is to make certain that you check the site out completely before you spend any money, and also make certain that all of the costs associated with your use of the service are spelled out in advance. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind when looking for a service is that if they won’t tell you up front how much things cost, then they probably won’t be worth what they want you to pay. Never subscribe to any service that doesn’t list ALL of their prices.

Remember that whether it is finding the girl next door or hooking up with a hot woman from the Ukraine, online dating is supposed to be fun – and it is supposed to be affordable. No matter what your online dating needs are sites that can offer them to you are available online. You simply have to find them!

About the Author
Tim Zelmer is the Public Relations Manager for, one of the largest marriage and dating services for men seeking Relationships with Russian women on the internet. The company has offices in the USA, Russia, Ukraine, and over 120 partners throughout the former USSR.

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