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Finding Love Online on a Budget

Let's face it. Dating is an investment that requires effort, time and money. If you have high standards, and hopefully you do, it can become a fairly expensive proposition. Usually you will attend many social events in the hopes of meeting the right sort of person. The advantage of online dating is that it allows you to "meet" a wide variety of people in a reasonably cost effective manner.

But don't be fooled. Like many things on the internet, most dating services are only free to register - if you want all the bells and whistles, you will usually incur expenses and you'll need your wallet handy!

In general, most online dating services are free to use - to a limited extent. Most will allow you to post your personal profile and photo and browse the database without incurring any cost. Some will require that you sign up first, while others will allow limited access to browse without registration. However, in order to actually contact other members, receive messages and have unlimited access to all the features and services, an upgrade to paid membership is usually required.

The most cost effective approach to deciding which dating services are worth paying for is to spend a little time doing some preliminary research. Surf around and start monitoring a few sites. Conduct searches based on your specific criteria for potential matches. Take note of the sites that offer the highest returns for your search criteria. Use your bookmarks because there are hundreds, if not thousands, of dating services to choose from online.

Whatever your specific dating preferences happen to be, chances are you will find several sites that cater exclusively to your interest. There are the obvious variations for the full gamut of sexual orientations but there plenty that are geared to a variety of other interests as well, including a wide range of religious and ethnic preferences.

No matter what, the most cost effective approach to online dating services is to locate sites that not only provide excellent safety features but also a high volume of traffic. Even if you have very specific dating criteria, don't automatically overlook the bigger generic sites. Most allow for advanced search criteria, allow you to narrow the according to your own criteria. In general, the more results a site can return for your search criteria, especially postal code searches, the better the chance of meeting a compatible potential date.

Remember, even at high traffic sites that return big search results, your next step will be process of elimination and your options will narrow for a multitude of reasons. For one thing, you'll encounter old profiles of people who have apparently stopped using the service. It's nice when the dating service allows you to view the date the profile was last updated so that you can avoid wasting your time. Don't take it personally, but non-responses are also relatively common. And then there are all of the contacts you will choose to severe because they have failed to meet your safety standards or dating criteria in some way. By the time you have gone through this process, you may find the options are considerably more limited than they first appeared.