Diana Kelly Levey

Cheap Date Ideas for Couples on a Budget

April 22, 2019 | Categories:

Dating is hard. Finding that person whose quirks you find charming—or, better yet, finding that person who finds your quirks charming—is no easy feat. But just because dating is hard doesn’t mean it has to be hard on the wallet. A lavish, six-course dinner with wine pairings or a weekend getaway to the Hamptons are all certainly lovely date ideas, but let’s face it: Most of us are not Jeff Bezos. In fact, many of us are just downright cheap. And that’s okay: Cheap bastards deserve love, too.

“Whether you are on a budget, or you are just cheap, there are plenty of date ideas that can be both engaging and affordable,” says Brittney Smiejek, a matchmaker with the dating website Three Day Rule.

Plus, here’s a little secret: when you meet the right person, it’s not going to matter how much you spend on your time together. What matters is that you’re spending time together in the first place. Here are 20 date night ideas that you can pull off on a budget. Also read the 8 best foods to eat before going on a date!

Explore a new neighborhood.

We get so comfortable in our surroundings that it can be fun to just go somewhere new and walk around, says Laurie Davis Edwards, a professional relationship coach and founder of eFlirt. Her husband, Thomas Edwards, founder of The Professional Wingman, planned one of these outings for Davis Edwards when they were first dating and she loved it.

“I heard about a place that was pretty cool for dinner in a neighborhood that was new to both of us and decided to make a whole day out of it and just explore,” he says. “Just placing yourself in a different environment, you get an entirely new experience you get to share together. When you’re in ‘exploring mode, it’s a fun place to be as a couple or as people who are developing a relationship.”

See a movie in the park.

Even if it’s too cold to unfurl your blanket on the grass, you can probably find lots of other free events in your town that day or weekend, says Wendy Newman, author of 101 First Dates. Try an app like EventBrite, All Events in City, or simply Google “free events near me” to see what crops up. Even your local library might have author Q&A’s and cooking classes going on.

Test drive a car you can’t afford.

“There’s no cost, it’s low-risk, and dealerships know that you’re going to be shopping around, so they’re likely going to be less stringent on why you’re looking to take a car out for a spin. Just have fun and experience something that you may rarely get a chance to drive,” Edwards says.

Play card games or board games.

“We were recently visiting a niece and playing Uno with her when Laurie and I realized how much we liked it,” Edwards says. “So I went to the store and got a pack and we’ve been playing a lot ever since.”

Many bars offer games like Jenga, too, so you don’t you have to be a homebody. “You’re enjoying something with a childlike spirit and competitive nature while [also being] nostalgic,” he says.

Make s’mores together.

Simply pick up graham crackers, milk chocolate, large marshmallows, and sticks for roasting, Davis Edwards says. “So much of a date is the ambiance that’s created, which is why places like wine bars are so popular,” she adds. But you certainly don’t need overpriced Merlot to create ambiance.

Rent bikes and go sightseeing.

Many major cities have bikes that you can rent by the hour or even for 15 to 30 minutes and use to get around the city, Davis Edwards says. Or you can simply rent bikes from a bike rental shop. “It’s a new way to explore and be playful,” she says. “The view from behind your handlebars is always so different, and it creates a different kind of interaction between the two of you because you’re doing something active, but it’s not as taxing as a workout.”

Play games at an arcade.

Get $10 to $20 worth of quarters and you can easily stretch the fun out for hours, Edwards says. You’ll experience the nostalgic aspect of games you played when you were younger, enjoy some friendly competition, and possibly even win a prize for your partner, he says.

Eat in.

This one might be obvious, but let’s mention it anyway, shall we? You don’t have to go out for a dinner date, nor do you necessarily have to resort to takeout (though Netflix and Chill is a classic for a reason).

“Pick up some produce at a farmer’s market or try something more recipe-based, like Blue Apron,” suggests Smiejek. “Here’s a tip: light some candles. She’ll think it’s romantic and adorable.”

Wander a museum.

Museums and galleries are a great way to strike up an interesting conversation, and, most importantly, keep costs low.

“Museums are an incredible place to go. There is always a free night at the museum, so do the research to find one in our around your area,” Begin says. Many museums, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, also charge ‘suggested’ rates, which means you can actually pay whatever you want.

Play tourist.

Most of us are so busy that it seems like a waste of time to go sightseeing in your home city. Why would a Seattleite, for instance, hit up Pike Place Market on a Saturday?

That said, hitting up famous attractions in your hometown is a great idea for a fun, kitschy date. “There are many different options for exploring that don’t cost a dime,” Smiejek says. “Go for a scenic bike ride, or make it as simple as exploring a new neighborhood.”

Inside tip: Pick up a guidebook to your own city. You might be surprised at how many new things you’ll both discover.

Plan a Potluck Double Date

“Invite your favorite couple to hang out ask them to bring a dish to share while you and your partner make one to share, too,” suggests Dori Gatter, Psy.D., LPC, a licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert. “This creates closeness—doing things together forges a stronger bond.” For an added twist, try setting a theme like “favorite foods from childhood.”

Find somewhere to volunteer.

Working at a food pantry, making sandwiches for the homeless, picking up trash in a park, or taking your pet to visit the elderly are all great ways to experience something together while giving back, suggests online dating coach Andi Forness.

Hit the driving range.

Whether you’re going for a party vibe at a sleek chain like Top Golf or a more low-key, Caddyshack-style public driving range, a golf date is a great way to kill a few hours, and a bucket of balls can go for as little as a few bucks, says online dating expert Julie Spira.

Read the full article on Men’s Health.

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