10 Inexpensive Date Ideas
A tight budget doesn't have to mean forgoing great dates if you use these 10 inexpensive date ideas. The economy means that many of us are cutting back on recreational spending. But if you're dating, you still want to show your sweetheart a good time. And unless you're in a long-term relationship or are dating someone who's frugal-minded, you don't want to be the guy who pulls out a coupon to pay for dinner. With these ideas, you can date in high style while still keeping your wallet happy.
- Picnics. What's more romantic than a picnic meal in a quiet spot in a local park or on the beach? Packing your meal is infinitely less expensive, even if you hit someplace like Whole Foods or your local gourmet shop for the ingredients. Whether you opt for cheese, fruit, bread, and wine or heartier fare like fried chicken and potato salad, you can have a great meal for two at less than half the cost of a restaurant meal.
- Enjoy Nature. Find the natural spots in your city or town. Walk through a local park, enjoy the beach or lakeshore, or explore a state park or arboretum together. Many such places are free, and others can cost as little as $5 per car for a day pass. Check into the rules on outside food and beverages and then pack your picnic lunch or dinner.
- Explore the Free. Your city or town probably has any number of great free events. If you live near a college or university, you'll find an abundance of free (or very cheap) concerts, plays, movie showings, and other events. Check out the local papers for ideas. Arts festivals, open air concerts, and street fairs are all free or low-cost options for a fun date. Even if you have to pay an entrance fee to a festival, the amount of entertainment you gain access to is worth it.
- Use Coupons -- on the Sly! No, you don't have to whip out the Red Lobster coupon cut from last week's Sunday paper. Check out Groupon and Living Social instead. These sites allow you to buy discounted services at many high-end locations. (A recent Living Social deal in Dallas offered a $50 certificate to a gourmet restaurant for $25.) You get a great value and may be able to try someplace that is otherwise out of your budget.
- Dessert Only. Cook a meal at home together, then go out for coffee or dessert afterwards. You might be able to hit that expensive new wine bar or bakery!
- Take in Local Culture. Visit local historical places, museums, or cultural centers. Many offer free or discounted days, and Bank of America customers have a host of museums across the country they can get into free on certain days.
- Just a Taste. Visit a local winery or wine shop. Many wineries and breweries offer free or low-cost tours and tastings.
- Popcorn Not Included. Don't forget about that oldie-but-goodie, the dollar movie. Go see something silly that you'd never have paid full price for! Though most "dollar movie" theaters now charge around $1.75 per ticket, it's still a good deal.
- Cook Together. Make a home cooked meal together. Hit the local farmer's market for fresh ingredients, or simply browse the supermarket for what looks good. Follow dinner up with a movie or anything else that sounds fun. The money you save by cooking at home opens up your options for going out later.
- Minor League Fun. If you and your date love sports, check out local minor league teams. Tickets to a minor league hockey or baseball game can be as little as $10 a person. Don't expect the high production values of a professional sports event, but enjoy the chance to see up and coming talent.