Date Nights On a Budget

By Dee Rene, Copy Cutie

credit: 401(K) 2013 (flickr)So it finally happened. You met your match online and you’ve begun bringing your computer love into the real world! But there’s just one problem—when did dating become so expensive? Nowadays, a movie alone may cost you a small fortune (even without popcorn!). Here are a few ideas to keep your dates fun and budget-friendly.

1. Find the free events.  The local paper, Google, and even advertisements at the local library are great ways to find out what’s happening in your town for free. Maybe there's an art gallery opening, a free performance in the park, an author giving a book talk, or events where you can volunteer together. No matter the cost, time spent together means you’re building a bond. 

2. Don’t be afraid of coupons.  Sites such as Groupon, LivingSocial, and Lifebooker offer amazing deals on vacations, classes, and dinners. By taking a few minutes to browse what’s available, you could save a lot of money and potentially discover something new around town.

3. Transform your home.  If you are comfortable with your match and have really gotten to know each other, you can turn your home into a great date spot. Browse new recipes online and cook them together! You can have a great time re-creating your favorite restaurant meals for often half the price. And nothing shouts romance more than time spent with your love in the kitchen.

4. Embrace group dates.  Maybe you’ve reached the point where you are comfortable letting your match meet your friends. Bowling, laser tag, paintball, and even some dining experiences usually offer less expensive rates for groups. This is a great way to have a date night without breaking the bank.

5. Get Active.  Have you ever considered a run in the park or a local Zumba class a date? You should! Lots of exercise studios offer a free or reduced price the first class, and a run outdoors is always free. Give your dates a ‘healthy living’ theme and save a few dollars in the process.

6. Play tourist.  Most of us have never really explored our own cities. Explore travel sites for your city and take notes on the great gems hiding in your backyard. You can have a wonderful (and inexpensive) date by just exploring the sites right outside your door.

7. Early dates.  Plan dates for the afternoon or morning. Dinners, movies, and most activities go up in price after 5 p.m., when most people are out and about. By turning your date into an afternoon or morning meet-up, you can catch a few lunch specials or early-bird rates. You’ll enjoy the same activity with smaller crowds for a better price!

Do you have any amazing budget-friendly date ideas? Share with a comment below!