Okay, maybe not a dime, but dating on a budget for sure! There are a lot of ways to date expensively – try flights around the world (yeah, I did that long-distance thing), all the steaks and champagne, front seats for all events, gifts on gifts on gifts. When you spend a lot of time together, it’s easy to spend a lot of money together too. Good on ya, peeps with deep pockets! For those whose pockets aren’t quite as deep, thankfully there are plenty of ways to date inexpensively as well. With just as much, if not more, fun!
Not all dates can be free, but there are ways to be mindful of the money you spend. Before we get into less expensive date ideas, let’s talk about a couple things to keep in mind when dating on a budget.
DATING DOLLARS: Dos and Don’ts
Be as spontaneous as B.I.G. was notorious
Sometimes the best and least expensive dates happen last minute. Got a friend who is offering tickets to a game last minute? Hear an ad on the radio for a local event that’s happening the same day? Be open to opportunities for inexpensive dates! It’s not always a Friday or Saturday night planned soiree.
That doesn’t mean suddenly becoming the Dali of date nights. It just means breaking the monotony sometimes! And dates aren’t about the money spent, but about the time spent together (#CHEESE). The idea might not be conventional, but the drive behind it should be intentional.
Don’t budge on your budget
That’s not necessarily true – budge when necessary. But the important thing is to know your budget. Do you have one? Do the people (or person) you’re dating contribute to the dates? How much are you able to spend on a monthly basis with someone/multiple people based on your current financial situation? Know what you’re working with, and then work with it. Don’t date being cavalier about your cash flow!
Below are lists of different date ideas, which can all be done for less than your traditional “dinner and a movie.” No matter the season or where you live, hopefully some of these inspire you to save a buck while becoming love struck 🙂
DATE IDEAS FOR OUTSIDE
- Eat outside. Pack a picnic and dine al fresco in a park. Or hit up a food truck and do the same! Food trucks are trendy and delicious, some with foods you can’t get at a restaurant. Take advantage and enjoy!
- Outdoor concert. From big concerts with huge names to small concerts with the not-so-famous, jamming under the fading sun is a heck of a good time with a date.
- Walk. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise for your health, plus it gives you a chance to connect with the person you’re with! Make some coffees before you head out or hit up a juice bar on your way. Try a new route every time you hit the pavement with your partner! Or take it up a notch and go for a hike on an actual trail!
- Bike ride. Going for bike rides are so much fun! Have each of you ride your own or make things interesting and rent a tandem bike for an hour or two. Most rates are reasonable, and the activity fosters teamwork, laughter, and some moments of sweet awkwardness which makes for a memorable date!
- Ferry ride. If you’re near a place where this is an option, hit up the ferry or water taxi! Wind in your hair, sea breeze aroma, and a fun way to transport. Or, rent a kayak or canoe for a few hours and cruise down your local water source in the sunshine at your own pace!
- Local sports events. Some tickets to events can be expensive, but some can be cheap! Hit up a baseball game on their discount ticket night, even if that means sitting in the nosebleeds. Is there a local college or minor league team for a sport in the area? Those tickets will likely be cheaper than the big-time teams around town! Have a ball cheering together trying to get on that Kiss Cam.
- Drive-in movie. I had one in my town growing up, which was such a novelty. I miss it and wish it wasn’t gone! Drive-in movies are a great way to catch a flick but in a totally different environment. Plus, you can bring your own snacks without having to hide them in a woman’s purse!
- Local festival/carnival. These scenes can be so much fun for a date night! There is usually good food, fun activities, and local vendors. It’s always a win if there’s cotton candy involved.
- Scenic drive. It’s a bit of a romantic notion and creates a space for lots of connecting and conversation. Stop to star gaze, view the scenery. Or if you’ve been dating for a while, take a drive down memory lane! Re-trace the locations of your relationship. How sweet (and cheap)!
- Mini-golf, zoo, gardens. Putt putt it up, go check out the animals, or take a moment to smell the flowers. When the weather is appropriate, get outside and enjoy what your location has to offer!
DATE IDEAS FOR INSIDE
- Museum. Lots of museums have free admission, and some also have discount prices on particular days. Get cultured with someone you care about!
- BYO restaurant. Drinks can be an expensive part of dinner, so find a “bring your own” restaurant! You can get your beer or wine far cheaper at your local liquor store, so save money there and maybe use the savings to splurge on dessert.
- At home dinner and a movie. Who says you need to go out for the traditional date? Plan a meal with your date, cook it together, and then watch a movie at home. You’ll save money by using your Netflix account or a local Red Box and still see quality films.
- Treasure hunt. This idea requires some creativity, but there are lots of variations. You can do an actual scavenger hunt or go thrifting or antiquing trying to find a particular item. Make it a competition if you want, and the loser must make dinner!
- At home spa. Turn your home into an oasis! Light some aromatherapy candles, get out massage oils, sip on lemon-infused water, take a bath together. Your favorite things to do at the spa can be done right at home – and at home, you don’t need to go to separate locker rooms!
- Arcade night. This is so much fun! If you have an old school arcade in a local mall or somewhere around town, grab a roll of quarters and head there for a nostalgic date! If that’s not an option, go to a place like Dave & Buster’s where you can play games galore. Stick to your budget and play til it’s gone!
- Karaoke. The time and place where you can be as good or bad as you are, and no one minds. It may cost you a drink, but the hours of entertainment are free! Get on stage with your date and sing a little duet for the crowd.
- Game night. Host one for others, or just do it as a duo! Have each of you pick your favorite game, and then have a random one as a tie breaker. Raise the stakes and add a prize to the pot!
- Bowling. Bowling alleys are such gems. The beers are cheaper, the slices of pizza are cheaper, but the opportunities for fun, competition and sport are plenty!
- Food tour. Do you have any food companies near you? Near me there is Twizzlers, Herr’s, and a bread company. They all offer tours for next to nothing! Bonus, you get to sample food, and of course you can buy as much as you want at the end.
- Volunteer together. Spent time at a soup kitchen, pet shelter, or running group – check out local charities near you and date while doing good for the world!
- Brewery or wine tour. Tours are great! Low cost + you get to sip on some adult drinks.
- Hobby swap. Take turns teaching your partner your hobby! For example, if you play the guitar, give your date a free lesson. And if your date loves basketball, let him/her run a free throw exercise with you. Cost of service: maybe some kisses!
- Play tourist in your own city. How often do you take advantage of all the things people travel to your city to do? I’m guilty of doing it far too little! Take the tourist route and find the freebies along it.
There are so many options out there for inexpensive dates! Check newsletters, newspapers, Groupon, Living Social, etc. in your area. Happy dating!!