There’s no denying that dates can be expensive these days, at least if you stick to the conventional things. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be. A little creativity mixed with some frugality can enable you to have some amazing and memorable dates on a shoestring budget. In fact, they’re probably more fun than the standard go-to ideas.
In the House
1. Cook Together
I personally believe that the way to anyone’s heart is through their stomach. So if you’re both into cooking, this can be a lovely way to spend an evening together. It’s a chance to test out each others skills in the kitchen, as well as create something delicious together. Just don’t stick the other person with all the dirty dishes.
2. Game Night
Unless you’re a gaming aficionado, you may not realize that there are some really cool and fun board games out there. And yes, I do mean outside the realms of Scrabble and Monopoly. As such, a games night can be a be a really cheap and fun way to spend an evening, whether it be in a group situation or by yourselves. There seems to be more and more two player games coming onto the market, which is great news for couples who love to play tabletop games.
3. Movie Night
A good old fashioned movie night is the next best thing to going to the cinema. In fact, it may even be better. No only is it cheaper, but you don’t have to deal with any other people. Being alone in the dark is far more romantic without fifty other people surrounding you. Plus, you can customize your cheap store bought popcorn and other snacks in weird and wonderful ways that even Willy Wonka would be proud of. Besides, it’s not like you can lie down and cuddle at the cinema. Wait. Is that what those movable arm rests are for?
4. Lounge Room Picnic
I don’t care what anybody says, I think this idea is adorable. Who doesn’t want to eat cheese on a blanket without having to be at the mercy of the weather? Plus, you don’t have to deal with bugs! Perhaps the best part is that if things get romantic, you can indulge without getting arrested for public indecency.
Perhaps this could be the natural progression of the above two ideas? Regardless of the situation, home massages are wonderful because they’re much cheaper than going to a spa. All you need is a towel and some oil! In addition, you’ll be getting massaged by your significant other, which is far less awkward than being with a stranger who you’re paying and trying to hide natural bodily functions from.
6. Fondue Night
Again, this is can be enjoyed as a group activity or as a couple. You can usually pick up fondues relatively cheap at a thrift store, so then all you need is the bread, cheese, fruit and chocolate! Throwing your keys in a bowl is optional.
7. Video Game Marathon
A couple that games together stays together! There are plenty of co-op games that couples can enjoy together – whether it be something tame like Lego Lord of the Rings; or something more hardcore, like Call of Duty. Or if you’re not overly competitive, racing and fighting games can be really fun too. You’d be surprised how the hours can melt away behind a controller or a keyboard.
8. Cook For Your Partner
Surprise your significant other by cooking for them. Nothing says loving and romance like a home cooked meal, especially if they don’t even have to help clean up.
9. Poker Night
Always fun, a poker night may actually help you make some money if you choose to include other people. If you want to keep it intimate, you can always spice things up by turning it into strip poker.
Outside the House
10. Farmers Market
If you and your partner are fans of fresh produce and cooking, the farmers market can make a fantastic date. You can pick out the best fruits and vegetables for yourselves at a much lower price than at the supermarket whilst playing ‘spot the stoned ageing hippie.’ Becoming prematurely old and dull at the age of 26 has never been so much fun! Price: $
11. Flea Market
Similar to above, you can have a great time hunting down bargains and treasures at a flea market. Discovering retro toys and comic books being sold well below their market value is always more enjoyable with someone at your side. You may even make some money if you knowingly rip someone off and sell your purchases for profit on eBay. Just stay away from the old politically incorrect racist dolls – that’s never sexy. Price: 0 – $
Both free and healthy, this is the perfect way to see some lovely sites together and get those endorphins flowing. You should probably save on water afterwards by showering together. Price: 0
13. Bike Ride
Just as fun and romantic as the above, but on wheels! Take a ride along the beach or lake, or maybe through the hills or mountainside for those of you who are more fit than I am. Price: 0 – $
14. Happy Hour
Take your partner down to your local watering hole so you can take advantage of some cheap drinks. The best part is that happy hour often goes for several hours at a time! Price: $ – $$
15. Open Houses
This is quite possibly my favorite suggestion on the list. You may be too poor to afford a house, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t go looking at them! Open houses are so much fun to go look at as a couple. Not only can you fantasize about living in places you’ll never afford, but you also gain access to people’s questionable decorating choices. Price: 0 unless you accidentally bid on an auction
16. Dive Bars
Now this may not sound particularly fun, but a date is what you make of it! instead of dropping $10 on a beer at your local hipster establishment, head down to your local dive. Not only do they have cheap drinks and dudes with long beards, but you can indulge in some fun old school bar activities like pool, darts and trying not to get stabbed. Price: $
17. Cheap Ass Tuesdays
This can come in many shapes and forms – whether it be cheap cinema tickets or discounted meals at cafes and restaurants. Check out which businesses in your area engage in Cheap Ass Tuesday and begin exploiting them in the name of romance. Price: $
Whilst ice skating is a nice and traditional date option, what I’m referring to is the roller skating rink. Tap into your inner children by spending an afternoon at the rink making fools of yourselves and drinking frozen cokes. Not only will you have a fun time laughing at each other, you may even get to see some children fall down, or young teenagers awkwardly trying to make out before their parents come to pick them up. Ah, memories. Price: $
Take advantage of the snow and cold weather by sledding down a hill. Who cares if you guys are the oldest ones doing it? If you don’t have a sled of your own, and don’t have the cash to drop on one, you can always improvise. You’d be surprised how good a job a garbage can lid does. Price: 0
20. Art Exhibition Openings
I know this isn’t for everybody, but hear me out. Not only are these things usually free to attend, but they generally also provide you with booze and cheese. Besides, you get to judge all of the pretentious people there. Sounds like a good night to me. Price: 0
21. Wine Tasting
Much like the above, this date is all about the free alcohol. So long as you have some way of getting around (or perhaps your significant other is happy to be the designated driver, in which case you should marry them immediately) this can be a fun and cheap way to try some amazing wines whilst taking in the lovely vineyard scenery. Price: $
22. Local Gigs
These are often free and occasionally the bands you’re seeing actually have some talent. If not, don’t worry – you can always have a great time being a critic and enjoying the cheap beverages. Local gigs are never anywhere classy or expensive. Price: 0 – $
23. Test Drives
If you don’t have a problem being those guys, head down to your local car dealership and ask to take something expensive out for a test drive. Sure, you’ll probably annoy the staff members (particularly if your clothes give your lack of fiscal worth away), but at least you’ll both have fun! Price: 0
24. Sight See Your City
Sometimes you become so used to your home town or city that you forget what draws tourists to it. Take a day to go site seeing and rediscover your love for your home. If all goes to plan, you may even get yelled at by an angry local who has mistaken you for a tourist. Price: 0
25. Amateur Comedy Nights
These are fantastic because entry is usually free, or at least quite cheap, and you have a chance to see some hilarious and talented comedians. Even if they happen to bomb out, that’s entertainment in and of itself. Price: 0 – $
26. Star Gazing
If you don’t live in a place where the sky in permanently covered in smog, star gazing is a good cheap date idea. You’ll get to lay back and simply marvel at the universe whilst having the opportunity to simply talk to each other. Remember talking? It’s that thing we did before smart phones were invented. Price: 0
27. Go for an Unplanned Drive
This is a good one for couples who don’t mind going with the flow. Just get in the car, drive and see where the road takes you. The best case scenario is that you discover some new awesome places together and make some memories. The worst case scenario is that the trip turns into The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Price: $ – $$
28. Volunteer Together
Regardless of how poor you are, there’s always going to be somebody worse off than you. As such, why not try and help others together? It won’t cost you anything other than your time, and it will be a really great chance for you to get to know each other on a new level. Alternatively, you could twist this idea around by volunteering at a festival or convention so you can get in for free. Price: 0
29. Go to the Beach
This really only works as a cheap date idea if you happen to live near the beach. Let’s just assume that you do. Spend the day enjoying the sun, surf and sand with your partner. You can even pack lunch to further cut down on costs. Price: 0 – $
30. Go on a Real Picnic
If you like the outdoors or just don’t trust sitting on your lounge room floor, a real picnic may be a good cheap date option for you. Pack both of your favorite foods and find somewhere pretty to eat, chat and simply enjoy your surroundings. Just remember to bring the bug spray. And a flask. Price: $