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Cheap Date Ideas for the Frugal Minded

Cheap Date Ideas for the Frugal Minded

In today’s frugal times, it can be difficult to find the scratch it takes to go on a date. Dinners are expensive, gas to get you from Point A to Point B costs an arm and a leg and if you’ve got children, paying for a sitter on top of all of that can really break the bank. How do you get special one-on-one time while still saving enough to pay the bills? Regardless of how long you've been dating, if you’re willing to get creative, you still can have a lot of fun with just a few bucks.

Use the Outdoors to Your Advantage

picnic-dateIn most locations, summer is the perfect time of year to enjoy a nice date outdoors. The weather provides a perfect setting for enjoying a romantic evening under the stars or picnic in the sun. For a simple daytime date, plan a picnic meal. Instead of forking out cash at a high-end restaurant, you can make (or buy)  fruit salad, sandwiches or other finger foods for two and bring them out in a basket. Add a chilled bottle of reasonably-priced sparkling wine and a board game, and you’ll have a few hours of entertainment.

Another great outdoor date opportunity is to enjoy a sport together. Frisbee golf and geocaching provide great opportunities for conversation, aren’t terribly competitive and can be sped up or slowed down to match the speed and intensity of the players. It is important, however, to make sure your date knows the activity ahead of time so he or she can be sure to dress appropriately for walking through a  Frisbee golf course or traipsing through the woods looking for a geocaching target. And be sure to bring bug repellent and sunscreen -- enough for two.

Get in Touch with Your Inner Chef

cookingEven if you’re not foodies, cooking together provides the opportunity for discussion as the dish is being pulled together. Talk with your date ahead of time about the kinds of food he/she enjoys. Build a meal based on mutual likes and dislikes, then go shopping for ingredients. Making the meal together at home will encourage conversation, plus you may be able to pick up a few cooking pointers from your date that will help improve your culinary abilities. Stream a movie after the meal for some low-cost entertainment and snuggle time.

Go Out and See a Movie


Going on a date to see a movie costs a ton, but seeing two movies for the price of one regular theater ticket isn’t impossible. If you are lucky enough to live in an area with a drive-in movie theater, you can get in for about $6 to $8 a person. Many drive-ins run specials that allow an entire carload in for $10 or $15, and there are usually two feature films offered for that price. You won’t feel pressured to buy overpriced concessions as most drive-ins allow you to bring your own food and drinks, though be sure to check their policy on alcohol before you load up your cooler. Bring a couple of lawn chairs or throw down a blanket in the back of your SUV, get comfy and enjoy the show with your sweetheart under the stars.

Get Artistic

If you or your date are passionate about a particular art form, take the opportunity to showcase your talent. Take along your camera and encourage your date to take photos, or grab a box of sidewalk chalk from a dollar store and decorate the driveway to your house. Paint, sculpt, or do your best with whatever you have on hand. Give pointers and ask for feedback, making room for communication as you go. It’s not necessary to take the art too seriously, however, you can learn a lot about a person through seeing what he/she makes with a few artistic tools and the space to create.

Nashville-SymphonyIf you're more inclined to watch others than to create your own art, many cities have a fledgling art community that is eager to bring in new patrons, and they usually offer tickets for cheap or even free. Get your hands on your city’s weekly culture paper or look at the websites of local art groups. Take your date to see performance art events such as a recital or play, a metro symphony concert or a student art exhibit. Even if the event isn’t that great,  you’ll have fodder for conversation for the rest of the evening, and you’ll be helping to further the art community in your area.

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  1. Sona

    Drive in movies are always fun. Though, I haven't seen a double feature one in a while.

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