Whether you’re active on the dating scene or in a committed relationship, going out on dates can start to feel repetitive and costly. Dates often consist of grabbing drinks or dinner at expensive restaurants, bars and clubs.
This cycle of food and booze lacks in variety and drains your wallet. The good news is that you can increase the fun factor of your dates while simultaneously saving money. Here are five ideas to help you get started.
1. Find Local Events
Local events are a great opportunity to bond with your date over a shared experience. And while concerts with big-name acts and big theater productions come with a hefty price tag, small local events can come cheap (or even free).
Cities have a variety of low-cost options, including community theater, free concerts and events, art exhibitions and even outdoor movie nights. You can also check out free or cheap museum exhibits. All you need to do is check your local listings to find a smorgasbord of events to choose from.
Even if you’re in a smaller town or out in the country, you can find local events to attend. Farmer’s markets and flea markets are fantastic to wander around, people watch and check out local wares. As for local sports, your nearest college, high school or minor league teams might offer low cost alternatives to the big leagues.
2. Eat Top-Notch Affordable Food
You don’t have to drop $50 on a steak to impress your date, and you can still get a little more creative than the nearest chain restaurant. Thanks to the rise of review sites like Yelp and UrbanSpoon, you can find the top unique food spots in your area and filter by price to find cheap authentic dining.
Restaurants aren’t your only option, either. Finding a local respected food truck lends a spontaneous vibe to your date, and modern food trucks are serious about their cuisine. You can even have a picnic to showcase your culinary skills while still getting out and about.
Of course, if you want to go the traditional route, you can always hunt down deals for classy sit-down restaurants — which brings us to our next point.
3. Use Deal Websites
Groupon, LivingSocial and other deal sites can deliver custom deals to you based on your geographic location. These frequently include concerts, festivals and deals for local restaurants and bars. Sign up for a few deal sites and check out their event listings for great date ideas. Even if you don’t have any upcoming plans, you can always snag a deal and keep it in your back pocket for the next time you need a good date idea.
4. Enjoy the Outdoors
You know that vast environment of sights, sounds and stimuli you encounter when you step out your front door? It’s called the outdoors and it’s the perfect setting for a high-activity date. If your date is outdoorsy or into exercise, you have so many options: hiking, visiting a local park, going for a bike ride, fishing or taking a walk around a nice neighborhood. Bonus: you get to burn calories and work up an appetite for that food truck meal we mentioned earlier.
Local charities — like soup kitchens, animal shelters and homeless shelters — provide an opportunity for you and your date to work together to serve the community. If you’re into nature, local parks often have opportunities for clearing trails, planting trees and picking up litter. Organizations like VolunteerMatch can help you find volunteering opportunities in your local community so you can do some good while making a connection. Plus, your caring side is in action and on display to your date. It’s a win-win.
Dates don’t have to cost a lot to make an impression. Use these tips to broaden your horizons, impress your dates and get more out of your dating experiences without going into debt.
[Editor’s Note: You can monitor your financial goals, like building a good credit score, each month on Credit.com.]