In the current economic climate, it can be hard enough just to make ends meet. Most of us don’t have a lot of extra money right now, and so things like going out for nights out on the town with friends get put on the back burner indefinitely. But if you’re dating someone, what do you do? You want to go out and do things together, but you don’t want to end up broke because of it. Sitting around watching television isn’t my idea of an interesting date (at least, not most of the time), so for those dating on a budget, here are some fun alternatives that will cost you and your partner little or no money.
Take the dog for a nature walk. It doesn’t even have to be your dog; most friends or neighbors will be happy to lend you their dog for an afternoon, as it saves them the trouble of having to take the dog out themselves. Dogs are great fun, and love nosing around in natural environments. A walk through the woods or any rural area will be a great treat for him, and it will give you and your date a chance to have a nice, long, meandering conversation. If you’re going to an area where there will be some open spaces, take a frisbee or a tennis ball for added fun.
Have a picnic in the park. It may be a cliché, but it’s popular for a reason. Parks are beautiful places, and it’s a wonderful environment to have lunch in. It’s also quite romantic.
Go for a bike ride together. If you’re both into fitness, or even if you’d just like to get out and see the countryside, a bike ride can be a fantastic way to pass an hour or two. It might not be the most relaxing date if you live somewhere like Manhattan, but as long as you live where you can get away from heavy traffic areas pretty easily, it’s a lot of fun.
See a movie at the dollar theater. Probably your greatest expense for this one will be the popcorn, but the containers are usually so gigantic that you can easily share one.
Go to the zoo. The only cost for this should be the entrance fee, and if you bring a packed lunch, you can make a day of it without spending any additional money at all.
Volunteer your time. This may not be a date per se, but it’s still a great way to spend time together while doing something wonderful for the community. If you commit to spending a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon helping out a local charity, it can help you feel great about yourselves, and about each other.
Cook a meal together. Decide on a theme (Italian, Indian, seafood, or whatever), choose a few dishes, and get some teamwork going in the kitchen. Food preparation is a very sensual thing, and creating wonderful food together can help the two of you get really close, really fast.
Visit a bookstore. If you’re like me, you probably won’t be able to resist spending at least a little money at a book store, but you can certainly have some great conversations while talking about books you each love, or books you’d like to read. If you go to the bookstore on a day when they’re having a special event (a live reading, for example), it can be more like a “real” date.
Dating doesn’t all have to be about fancy restaurants or expensive clubs. Remember, the point is to get to know each other, not to spend as much money as possible. In fact, the less you have available to spend, the more creative you’ll have to be, and that can lead to some very fun dates that will make for great memories later in the relationship.