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11 Affordable Date Ideas

by Carrie Lowrance

Dating can get pretty expensive. A typical night at the movies will put you back $60. A typical restaurant meal could cost up to $50. A concert could cost $100 plus after taxes and fees. There are many ways to have a fun time with your significant other for not a lot of money. Here are 10 date ideas that cost close to nothing get you started:

Plan A Picnic– Pick out a place to have a picnic. Instead of buying food, challenge yourselves to make it from whatever you have on hand at home. This could be as simple as peanut butter and jelly with fruit to a bottle of wine and assorted cheeses to a simple pasta salad. If the weather is unfavorable, have it at your place or theirs.

Homemade Dinners– Make a delicious homemade spaghetti or pizza dinner. I’m talking homemade pasta or homemade dough. (Ask to borrow a friend’s Kitchen Aid Mixer with pasta attachment if you know someone.) If not, you can find recipes on Pinterest.

To set the mood, have Italian music playing in the background. If you don’t have any, find some on your favorite online radio station like Pandora or Spotify. Relax later with a movie starring your favorite Italian actor or actress. End the night with a tiramisu flavored dessert.

Cat Cafe– It’s exactly what it sounds like, a cafe where you can play with cats.

Volunteer at an Animal Shelter– If your date loves to volunteer, you can spend the day at your local animal shelter volunteering. Clean out kennels, walk dogs and play with the cats. Who knows, maybe you will find another ‘baby’ to steal your heart. Check with the shelter first, some require volunteer training. A great example of a date that costs close to nothing.

Bookworm– Take some time to browse your local independent bookstores and then go to a local coffee shop for a cup of Joe.

DIY Crafts-  If your date is into crafts you can spend an evening doing all the fun art projects you loved as a kid from finger painting to play dough to paper mache’.

Go to the Zoo– Find out if your zoo has a ‘free’ day and go see the wild animals.

Board Games– Go old school and break out the board and boxed games. Think ones you’re unbeatable at. Plan an afternoon/evening game playing marathon and place bets. Play for either funny money or pennies. The person who wins the best of three rounds in Scrabble, Monopoly, etc gets to pick what to do on your next date.

A Historical Date-Spend a throwback evening in another era. If you have the attire, break out the poodle skirts, bobby socks, jean jackets, leg warmers, parachute pants, etc. Take in a drive-in movie, go to  a bowling alley, or a roller-skating rink. Evening fare could include burgers, fries and malts. If you can’t find a drive in near you, squeeze into a booth at your local diner. Talk about what your lives would be like if you really lived in the  50’s, 60‘s, 70‘s or 80‘s.

Go Sightseeing in Your City– Make a list of all the cool, unique, independent shops you see around your town and go on a browsing spree. For example, on the square in the next town over there is an old fashioned candy store, a caramel corn store , a small antique store, a kitchen store and a children’s store, etc.

Bake A Cake– Look  through lots of dessert books  and choose one that you would never tackle alone.  Shop for the ingredients and then make your crazy creation from scratch as the night’s entertainment. If you really want to be adventurous, try creating a wedding cake just for fun. Within reason, of course.

There are many ways to have a fun evening without breaking the bank.

Carrie Lowrance is a writer and author. Her work has been featured on Huffington PostThe Penny Hoarder, & Crosswalk. She is also the author of two children’s books, Don’t Eat Your Boogers and Brock’s Bad Temper. You can find out more about Carrie and her writing at

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