A hopeful romantic has found a unique way to raise funds to support her hedgehog rescue center by going on first dates with men – for CASH.
Savvy Nicole Ernst, 42, signed up for dating app What’s Your Price in April after a difficult breakup has since earned over $900 from five dates with men aged between 29 and 62.
Nicole, a crisis counsellor, uses the cash to help finance her organization Cuddles and Quills and dreams of expanding the four-hedgehog rescue center.
The animal lover said it costs an average of $200-a-month to care for her hedgehogs Nyx, Harrison, Bright and Osbourne, and dating – for a fee – reduces the financial burden.
Nicole, of Tampa, Florida, USA, has even brought her hedgehogs along with her on dates, much to the delight of her paying suitors.
She said: “About a month ago I came out of a four-year relationship and I decided to start dating again.
“When I googled online dating, an app called What’s Your Price came up. I was intrigued because it said you could get paid for going on dates.
“At the beginning, I thought it sounded weird because I’m not a prostitute, but I read the testimonials and it seemed legit.
“Because it costs money to keep my hedgehog rescue going, I thought it would be a good way to raise money to keep it going.
“What happens is they go on the app and make an offer and then you decide whether you would like to meet them or not.
“I even brought one of my hedgehogs on a date with me, which he thought was really cool. He had never seen one before.”
Although she was apprehensive at first, Nicole said the experience is making it possible to think about expanding her hedgehog sanctuary, which was founded in 2012.
“Six years ago my dog, rescue parrot and my guinea pig all passed away in such a short space of time,” she said.
“I has having a tough time after they died and a friend told me I should get a hedgehog, which is when I adopted Nigel from a breeder.
“Nigel was such a wonderful pet. He had such an amazing personality and was so cuddly.
“Whenever I was stressed or anxious, holding him would calm me down.
“Because I loved Nigel so much, I began to do more research and I learned that hedgehogs are very popular pets because they are so cute when they’re little.
“But they’re abandoned a lot too because they have very specific needs.
“I decided to start a hedgehog rescue called Cuddles and Quills which now had four hedgehogs, Nyx, Harrison, Bright and Osbourne.
“Taking care of them can get expensive, especially when vet bills are involved and they cost me about $200 a month.”
Although Nicole’s sudden influx of cash is a welcome support to her organization, she is thinking about giving it all up for someone she met on the app.
She added: “I’ve enjoyed myself on a lot of the dates and I think one of the guys – it could end up becoming a romantic relationship. We’ve been on a couple of dates so far.”
Nicole said her friends think making money from dating is a funny concept but see it as a great way to support a passion that is close to her heart.
“My friends think it’s funny that I’m going on dates and being paid. They don’t care as long as I’m safe,” Nicole added.
“It’s my dream to expand Cuddles and Quills and help more hedgehogs.
“I live with PTSD and they’ve helped me a lot. I just want to be able to rescue more hedgehogs and give them the same joy and happiness as Nigel gave me.”
Follow Nicole’s adventures on https://www.instagram.com/thecrazyhedgehoglady/?hl=en