Maybe a post about affordable date ideas is more for the guys than the ladies. But then, maybe not. After all, it’s important for the ladies to offer some input, as well as to consider the fact that dating can be a bit costly.
If a guy is actively involved in online dating, then dating can get even costlier. Simply taking one girl out to dinner each week can mean budgeting an extra $120-200 a month, depending on where the dinners are. Granted, not every guy is taking one girl out per week, but there are some. And even if you’re not dating weekly, nearly everyone we know these days is looking for a way to save money.
So, how can you save money by planning dates on a budget, yet not appear cheap? Because we certainly don’t recommend using coupons or gift cards until you know her a little better. And it’s not like strolling over to the nearest Redbox is a good idea either—at least for the first few dates if you’ve met her online—because inviting her to your place might send off her internal creep detector.
We’ve been brainstorming to help the brothers out. Some of these affordable date ideas came from dates we’ve planned or participated in; others came from the creative minds of our friends. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good place to start.
1. Matinee :: Instead of going out at night and paying more money, take her to a weekend matinee instead. This works for both the movie theater and an arts theater. Tickets are less when the sun is still shining outside.
2. Zoo :: We have a friend who always took his second date to the zoo. His rationale was brilliant: the zoo was inexpensive and fun, plus it provided topics if the conversation was waning. He knew he would always have a good time, even if the date wasn’t going well. While he was dating online, he went so far as to buy two zoo season passes because it was more cost effective.
3. Coffee Shop :: If you’re meeting someone online for a first date, instead of shelling out $30+ for dinner, meet her at a coffee shop. If things go well, you can always shift the date to a restaurant or plan for your next meeting.
4. Happy Hour :: Along the same lines as the coffee shop, you can meet for drinks after work at a restaurant or bar. Hors d’oeurves are usually offered at cheaper prices then, too. Granted, if you meet at happy hour on a regular basis, she might figure out your frugal angle, but for a first meeting, it’s a perfectly fine affordable date idea.
5. Picnic :: Pack a lunch or pick up sandwiches at your favorite sandwich shop and take her to the park. Bring a Frisbee and your dog, if you have one. Don’t have one? Maybe it’s time to dog sit for a friend. Unless your date is allergic. Make sure you ask her about allergies, including food and animals. It seems like a silly question, but we’ve heard girls say they appreciated the thought behind that very question.
6. Double Date :: Do you have mutual friends? A double date or group date can be another way to save money. You can split the cost with another guy or group of guys.
7. Museum :: Museums often have a weekly day where admission is free. If you happen to go with your date on that day, well, it’s not your fault it’s free, now is it? But be prepared to deal with crowds, especially if there’s a special exhibit going on.
8. Concert in the Park :: Many city parks offer a free concert series in the summertime. Pack some lawn chairs or a blanket and a picnic or a bottle of wine and get to know your date in a romantic (and free) setting.
9. Outdoor Activity :: If you’re Sporty McSporterson, then this is an obvious choice for you when it comes to affordable date ideas. But if you’re not one who’s much for outdoor sports, this might be a fun idea for getting you out of your comfort zone. Many city parks are implementing disc golf courses, so that’s one possibility. Borrow bikes, guns, or fishing rods from a friend, throw a Frisbee, or learn a new sport together.
10. Volunteer :: If volunteering is your heart and much of what you do every week, then what better way to get to know someone than to minister alongside them? Set up an appointment at the local food bank or sign up to help with a block party at your church. Just be prepared that if you know other people involved, they’ll probably ask you questions later about your volunteer partner. Hey, if that’s fine with you, it’s fine with us. We’re just saying…
11. Farmer’s Market, Fair or Festival :: Check your city’s calendar. Are there any local events occurring? With the rise of farm-to-table foods, Farmer’s Markets seem to be popping up on weekend mornings in many towns. Strolling through one and checking out the produce, flowers, and locally-made foods can be fun and provide a lot of conversation about interests and likes/dislikes. No Farmer’s Market? What about the county fair or a festival? Who cares if it’s celebrating watermelons or Toad Suck Daze (Arkansas, smh.) as long as it provides an opportunity to get to know each other.
12. Breakfast :: When considering affordable date ideas, we couldn’t help but think about the fact that breakfast is just cheaper. Choose a local diner that specializes in the first meal of the day and visit over eggs and bacon instead of a 3-course dinner.
13. Ride Public Transportation :: While this isn’t a date idea, a sometimes fun way of getting to and from a date while still being frugal is to take public transportation—especially if you live in city where you don’t take public transportation all the time. For instance, in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, riding the Trinity Railway Express is a fun alternative to driving to Downtown Fort Worth or Dallas for a date. It’s just an added benefit that it saves you gas money.
14. Church :: Yes, we went there. Okay, maybe not the actual church service, but is there a conference going on at your church or hers one weekend? Or a concert? Seriously, it is a public place, and if she’s nervous about meeting an online date, then her anxiety might be quelled by hanging out in the House of the Lord. We know, you’re judging us for listing it, but we also know some of you have done it. And we’ve heard it can be a good date spot!
What are your affordable date ideas? Guys, do you date on a budget? What’s worked for you? Girls, what are some good yet cheap dates you’ve been on?
Photo credit: the queen of subtle