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50 Inexpensive Date Ideas to Impress Your Significant Other While Saving Money As we all know, romance isn’t always about fancy dinners and expensive excursions. Nevertheless, the typical American spent $3,025.12 on dating in 2023, according to OnePoll in collaboration with LELO’s...

By John Rampton

This story originally appeared on Due

As we all know, romance isn’t always about fancy dinners and expensive excursions. Nevertheless, the typical American spent $3,025.12 on dating in 2023, according to OnePoll in collaboration with LELO’s survey of 2,000 Americans. Additionally, the survey found that participants had been on eight dates over the past six months that cost $189 a pop.

The best dates, however, tend to involve creativity, shared experiences, and focusing on your partner. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first date or your tenth anniversary, keeping dates budget-friendly allows you to discover new things and avoid financial stress. Additionally, it will strengthen your relationship in the long run.

Having said that, here are 50 inexpensive date ideas that will impress your significant other.

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1. Pack a picnic.

Grab a picnic basket and a blanket, and head to a local park, lakefront, or scenic overlook with your favorite snacks and drinks. Besides being simple and affordable, this offers a peaceful environment where you can enjoy each other’s company without distractions.

Also, consider adding a frisbee or kite to the mix; it will add some playful competition!

2. Check out a new food truck.

Unlike expensive restaurants, food trucks offer great food for a reasonable price. Besides that, you can explore your city or visit a new neighborhood while out.

3. Go for a hike.

Walking and talking are free, non-confrontational, and allow people to open up to each other. Being outdoors also allows you to enjoy the beauty of nature, which is usually a source of calm and happiness.

Google a few nearby hikes if you want to take a different route. Consider providing your significant other with a few route options so they can decide how long and difficult the hike will be. Even better, when you reach the top, you can enjoy some nicer snacks, such as dark chocolate to make the experience even more memorable.

Bonus tip: Geocaching is a fun alternative to hiking. By searching for hidden items, the date becomes more exciting! Plus, it’s free!

4. Visit a library or a used bookstore.

Find some budget reads at your local library or second-hand bookstore by letting your inner bookworm loose. It is a great idea to read together even if the relationship is still young because books are great conversation starters.

Another idea? You can make this a game where you find each other the perfect book. A good way to find out how well you know your partner’s literary tastes is to put it to the test. You can also surprise them with a book that they would never have chosen on their own.

If you are an avid reader, you could also start a book club for two to continue the conversation afterward.

5. Take a trip to the local art museum.

Museums can be a fun way to get to know someone if you’re interested in artwork. Many art museums are usually free or very inexpensive to enter. Overall, museums provide plenty of conversation starters for an enjoyable date. Depending on your knowledge and interpretation, you may even surprise your SO.

6. Attend a community theater performance.

An evening at the theater is a classic date idea. However, you can still enjoy culture without having to pay the high prices associated with major productions.

Check your local newspapers or online to see when community theaters or schools will perform. It’s an inexpensive and sometimes free way to support your local arts community.

7. Hold a movie marathon at home.

Enjoy spending time together watching a selection of movies or shows based on a theme you both enjoy. It’s more than just watching movies, though. Instead, it’s about sharing experiences, laughing at the same scenes, and enjoying a home-cooked meal.

8. Find a garage sale to go to.

I know it’s tempting to sleep in on the weekend. But there’s something special about hitting the neighborhood garage sales early in the morning. To curb impulse shopping, each of you can spend $20. After that, you can haggle for treasures throughout the day.

And, who knows? Maybe you and your significant other can start garage sale flipping as a side hustle.

9. Watch the sunset or sunrise.

A new day begins with a new sunrise, and a new day ends with a new sunset. But when was the last time you stopped to admire this beauty?

You’re bound to find a couple of options if you Google the best places to see the sunset in your area. The magic starts about 30 minutes before the actual rise/set time, so make sure to get there early.

You could also bring snacks or a cheap bottle of wine for a spontaneous picnic.

10. Set up camp in your own backyard.

If your apartment or house has the space, consider planning an outdoor night. To make it extra cozy, set up a tent with pillows and blankets. You can still enjoy the comforts of home while telling stories, stargazing, or enjoying the outdoors.

To add a sweet touch to the evening, roast marshmallows and make s’mores over a fire. Alternatively, you can bake them inside and eat them outside if you prefer.

11. Learn how to dance.

Find a dance class in your local community, rec center, or other community organization. It’s a great place to people-watch and often inexpensive. You can also learn choreographies on YouTube or TikTok if you don’t wish to leave your house.

Dancing together can be a fun way to discover physical connection, and it’s guaranteed to make you both laugh. Additionally, you can practice your wedding dance if you’re engaged.

12. Treat yourself to ice cream.

Have you been doing well, sticking to your budget and cooking frugal meals? If so, you deserve something delicious.

You can embark on this classic date idea after dinner. In addition, you can walk around while eating it, which will spark some interesting conversations.

13. Attend open houses for homes for sale.

Although you may not be ready to move just yet, checking out open houses in your town or city could provide much entertainment. It’s a chance to see how your neighbors live. You can also learn how each of you would redecorate or spruce up your home.

It is also possible to make up stories about the current occupants and elaborate tales about what each room is used for. Plus, there might be free snacks.

14. Meditate together.

When couples get zen together, they stay together. That might not be exactly a saying, but it can help avoid drama and conflict.

If money concerns you, you can always take free meditation classes online, such as those on YouTube.

15. Play your favorite video games.

Mario Kart and Donkey Kong are nostalgic classics you can play — no matter your age. In addition to showing each other your gaming skills, you both can tell stories about the games you played as children. Of course, you can also play some newer games on your laptops or phones.

You should, however, make sure the game is enjoyable for both of you, regardless of what you play. When one person crushes another, there’s nothing fun about it. In some cases, it could even lead to an argument.

16. Plan a vacation together.

Plan or planning is the keyword here. After all, it’s possible that you don’t have the funds at the moment. However, why should that prevent you from planning the perfect getaway together?

Choose a destination you’ve both been dreaming of visiting. You should then research all the best landmarks and foodie spots and look online for the best deals. Once you have a plan to save for the holiday, you can begin saving.

FYI, to save even more money, consider traveling off-season.

Research shows that relationships are more likely to be successful if they share common goals. Additionally, relationships can be more satisfying if couples work toward shared goals and receive each other’s support.

17. Visit your local farmer’s market.

Some towns have thriving, bustling farmer’s markets with a wide range of products. During the right season, browsing through the stands can be fun, as well as a cheap date.

Farmer’s markets offer a wide variety of fresh, organic food and homemade knick-knacks. Additionally, you might be able to pick up ingredients for a home-cooked meal.

18. Watch birds.

If you have binoculars and a guidebook, bring them or download an app to help you identify birds based on their appearance or song. Find out the best birdwatching spots in your area and which feathered friends you might see by visiting local birdwatching forums. After that, you can compete to identify the birds the most.

19. Volunteer together.

Get involved in your community and bond over a common cause. For example, join a local clean-up project, help out at a soup kitchen, or volunteer at an animal shelter. You won’t believe how genuinely satisfying this can be for you and your significant other — someone suggested this to us, and it has been life-changing.

20. A spa night at home.

Couples who are married or living together will love this cheap date idea. Why? Because DIY spa nights are affordable, romantic, and easy to set up. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Set the mood. Clean the house, dim the lights, and light a few candles.
  • Put on relaxing music. Several “zen music” playlists can be found on Spotify or YouTube.
  • Get comfy. Put on comfy pajamas or robes, and prepare bath salts, massage oils, face masks, scrubs, and bath salts.
  • You are welcome to bring small snacks. Keep a couple of chocolates or fresh fruit on hand for a sweet treat.
  • Pick up a flower (like one!) from the grocery store — you don’t have to break the bank on this adventure. Get one, even one flower, which sets a sweet mood.

21. Go on a grocery run.

You’ll only need a trip to your local grocery store or dollar store for this week’s date night idea. Think of three or four items you should buy each other. It might be a partner’s favorite snack, a need they have, or something they want to keep.

Set a budget and a time limit together to make it even more challenging. Besides being cheap and cheerful, it’s also a pretty cute way to show off how well you really know your partner.

22. Grab a cup of coffee.

It is common for coffee shops to have a quiet, intimate atmosphere. As a result, you can engage in an in-depth discussion during this time. If you don’t like coffee, you can also try a smoothie, tea, or hot chocolate.

Another idea? Together, you can study or read a book. Last but not least, you could just sit back and watch some people.

23. Browse thrift stores for treasures.

Embark on a thrifting adventure to find the quirkiest item within your budget. It would also be fun to pick out outfits for each other. A fun way to pass the time might be to try on some clothes at the store — even if you don’t buy anything.

24. Work together on a puzzle.

Are you already a perfect match with your significant other? Imagine if you took that cutesy metaphor and worked a jigsaw puzzle together.

25. Make music together.

If you don’t have a musical background or choose an instrument that is difficult to play, this may prove to be a difficult date. Still, it’ll be cheap and fun. Justin Guitar, for example, is free and ideal for beginners. YouTube has all kinds of free videos for music — some of the “learning to play piano” videos are really fun.

Don’t have any instruments? You can pick up instruments relatively cheaply on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or OfferUp. However, for nicer gear, you may need to spend a few extra dollars depending on how long you plan to commit to learning.

If you and your partner get better, you might consider paying for private classes, which usually cost between $20 and $50 per hour. If in person, this could be a unique date night.

26. Host a game night.

Perhaps a double date would be a better option for this idea. Just invite a few friends over for some healthy competition. If you want to spice things up a little, place a friendly wager, like babysitting or cooking dinner for each other. Play old-fashioned games like Charades and Pictionary, or try a board game.

27. Drive around.

Have you ever felt the urge to stay home but not go out and spend money? Going for a drive can help you find the perfect balance.

For example, you could drive to a scenic location to watch the sunset. You can sip homemade hot chocolate during the holidays while gazing at the festive lights and decorations. You could also test drive a new vehicle at your local car dealership that you’ve both been eyeing.

Preparing a new playlist or singing along to your favorite tunes will make this drive memorable. I like to drive around and take photos of trees — sometimes, it’s a lonely journey. When my significant other suggests we go together, the experience changes to something magical.

28. Go on a ferry ride.

Alternatively, you could relocate your date to the nearest ferry if you want a change of scenery. Whatever your reason for taking a trip, whether on a first date or trying to strengthen your relationship, you can always take a long day trip to an unexplored area.

29. Sing loudly at home.

Sing-along nights are a great way to bring the karaoke bar experience home. Create a playlist of the songs you both love — find lyrics online, grab your mics, and jam out. Besides cheering for your partner, sing your favorite duets together. How about playing the old air guitar while a fantastic piece of music is playing? Which one of you can play air guitar better? Or who can conduct a piece of music better?

30. Spring cleaning.

You may consider cleaning a chore rather than a date. In reality, cleaning can be very relaxing and enjoyable. As a bonus, you feel awesome afterward.

You can begin by cleaning out a single cabinet or drawer set. Next, roll up your sleeves, put on some fun music, and get cleaning. In no time, your place will be beautiful if you repeat this once a month.

Furthermore, going through old things can lead to some interesting stories. As you sort through your date’s old stuff, you’ll learn so much about them. In addition, you may be able to earn some money by selling your unwanted items.

31. Explore a local botanic garden.

In addition to being inexpensive to visit, botanic gardens are always a fascinating experience, especially when the sun is shining. Stroll through the gardens with your loved one for a romantic day without breaking the bank.

32. Go through old photos and albums.

In some cases, people look like themselves when they were younger. Others, however, may look entirely different as adults. Ask your significant other to bring out their photo album. You can go through baby pictures and other photo albums on the couch together.

It also takes you down memory lane, and it allows you to learn something about each other. In addition, there will probably be a lot of laughter as you reminisce.

33. Draw your families’ trees together.

If your S.O. has a big extended family, it can be difficult to remember everyone’s name and relationship. However, writing it down could help you keep track of everyone and learn more about them.

As you share memories of your relative with your partner, ask them to share a fun fact or memory about them. You can then swap places with your partner and have them do the same.

34. Go rollerskating.

Depending on where you live, you can rent skates at local roller rinks for around $20. Additionally, ice skating is an option, depending on the season.

If you own skates or rollerblades, you can show off your skills at a local park or basketball court for free.

35. DIY wine tasting

It might sound fun to go on a vineyard tour. However, tasting wine doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

Consider buying a few cheap bottles of wine instead of visiting a winery. You don’t have to spend a lot on wine, despite what you may think. You can often buy a decent bottle for under twenty bucks. Look up the notes of the wines and see who gets it right to enhance your sommelier skills.

Is wine not your thing? It’s just as classy to have a cocktail night.

36. Put on a vintage fashion show.

Is your prom dress still in your closet? How about your letterman jacket from high school? You might even have some clothes from your college days. Whatever you have, why not dress up in your old clothes for a fashion show?

It might sound cheesy. However, each piece of old clothing might inspire untold stories. Plus, you might discover an old-school piece that is back in style.

37. Compose a love letter for each other.

Let your romantic vibes flow with heartfelt love letters. It can be challenging to put your feelings into words, so try explaining what made you fall in love with them in the first place.

38. Put together a time capsule.

With a time capsule, you can showcase your scrapbooking skills while taking a trip down memory lane with your partner. Think about writing a love letter to your partner with a picture of the two of you in it.

In addition, another date night is required to reopen it. Your time capsule might be opened on your tenth anniversary, for instance.

39. Purchase a lottery ticket.

Please don’t spend a lot on lottery tickets. Instead, buy a one or two-dollar lottery ticket and imagine what you’ll do with your winnings. Of course, your chances of winning are slim. However, it’s fun to dream about what you could do if you did, such as your dream vacation, vehicle, or ideal house.

40. Schedule a photo shoot.

Get your partner involved in a photo shoot with your phone camera. The photo doesn’t have to be professional-quality, but it’s a great excuse to dress up and have fun.

You can also use the photos as the lock screen on your partner’s phone. You can also use one of the photos for your save-the-date or holiday card if it turns out exceptionally well.

41. Pick your own fruit — like off a tree!

Taking your significant other apple picking, berry picking, or whatever is in season is the perfect way to say fall romance. Also, you can use the fruit of your labor to make a delicious snack or ingredient for a frugal meal.

42. Attend the carnival.

What’s not to love about the carnival? Aside from cotton candy and ride games, fairground games offer a great opportunity to impress your partner. However, don’t spend all your money trying to win a prize for your loved one.

43. Plan a potluck.

As a budget-friendly double or triple date, plan a potluck dinner. This is a great opportunity to show off your culinary skills and share a memorable night with others.

44. Participate in trivia night.

Test your knowledge of random facts by signing up for trivia night at your local bar. There is usually a cash prize for the winner — or even the runner-up.

Recently, I attended a trivia night where we won a $50 gift card for coming in first. This means the next night out will be free — minus the Lyft fare. Be responsible, people.

45. Host your own trivia night.

Rather than spending money on a trivia night, you can learn more about your partner by playing the Newlywed Game. You can start easy by asking them about their favorite ice cream flavor or where you met on your first date.

This is a great way to spend more quality time with your partner without breaking the bank. It will also help you get to know each other better.

46. Go on a walking tour.

Many big cities offer guided walking tours, either for free or for a low fee—just remember to tip. Besides being affordable, these tours allow you to learn more about your hometown or discover new neighborhoods in your area.

While you’re out, you can also scout out even more date ideas in the future.

47. Spend time at the beach or on a lake.

Are there any beaches or lakes near you? If so, take advantage of it. Most beaches and lakes allow you to relax by the water for free, so bring a few towels and snacks for a cheap date day out.

You get bonus points if you can go fishing. Aside from showing off your outdoor skills, you might also catch dinner.

48. Take a trip to IKEA together.

A stroll through IKEA has become a popular date activity. In addition to being a fun, free date, you can also spend hours designing your dream home.

If you go, however, be sure to try their famous meatballs.

49. Relive your first date.

Take a trip to where you had your first date and recreate it. Then, you can look back and see how far you’ve come.

50. Write down your goals.

Do you have a place in mind that you’d like to visit? Would you like to achieve any milestones together, like purchasing a home?

What if you’re in a new relationship? No problem. Share your goals this year and support one another.

FAQs

How can I plan a date that’s both fun and affordable?

A great date doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Free activities. Don’t miss out on free admission days at your local museums, parks, and libraries. You might also enjoy a picnic lunch at a scenic location. Alternatively, you can visit a farmer’s market together and sample new foods.
  • Creative twists. Make staying in fun! Try a new recipe or play a video game or board game together. Alternatively, you may want to dance to a playlist or watch a movie marathon.
  • Think outside the box. Find free concerts, festivals, and art walks on your local events calendar. Make a difference together by volunteering for a cause you believe in. You can also take a class together at a community center or through online tutorials.

What are some tips to make an inexpensive date feel special?

It all comes down to effort and thoughtfulness. Here are some suggestions:

  • Personalize it. When planning a date, consider your significant other’s interests. Consider packing their favorite snacks for a picnic or watching a movie they love.
  • Get the mood right. Even if you’re staying in, dim the lights, light candles, or play music to create a romantic atmosphere.
  • Keep your focus on connection. Spending quality time together is the most important thing. Don’t let your phones distract you. Instead, be present in the moment. Get to know each other better by asking questions, listening attentively, and having fun together.

Should I tell my significant other that we are on a budget?

You absolutely should.

Honesty is essential in any relationship. Having an open line of communication shows you’re a responsible and thoughtful person. It might be possible for us to come up with some affordable date ideas together.

It’s essential to save money, but I still want to show I put effort into the date. What can I do?

The effort is what matters most. As such, consider hosting a picnic, writing them a song or poem, or giving them a small, thoughtful gift.

We’ve been together for a long time. How can we keep date nights exciting on a budget?

Together, try out new activities. Here are a few ideas:

  • You can take a cooking class together online for free.
  • On YouTube, you can learn a new dance or play an instrument.
  • Organize a themed potluck dinner with different dishes from different cultures.
  • During a progressive dinner, add an element of surprise by serving the courses in different house rooms.
  • Visit a new trail or revisit an old favorite while hiking or biking.

You should never forget that spending quality time together is the most important thing about a date. But, to make the date memorable and impressive, focus on experiences rather than spending much money.

Image Credit: Josh Willink; Pexels

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