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Creatively Cheap: 12 Date Ideas to Have Fun on a Budget

Don’t have the time or cash to whisk your loved one to the other side of the world? Then read on for some great, low-maintenance date ideas.

cheap date ideas on a budget

It’s not unusual to want to impress a significant other on a date. If they’re the one you have your heart set on, and you can really see yourself having a future with them, why wouldn’t you want to impress?

However, the means don’t always match the intention, and that surprise holiday in the Bahamas isn’t an option for most of us. Let’s face it: if the spare funds just aren’t there–if you’re a student, for example, or there’s an employment issue–then even a visit to a plush restaurant can be a stretch.

Easy, affordable date ideas

For all those budding lovers whose hearts are bigger than their bank balances, why not try one of the following low-maintenance date ideas? There’s something in here for everyone.

#1 Eating out. Well, obviously I don’t mean taking the object of your affections out for some posh nosh. That would cost way too much–and if it didn’t cost way too much, you clearly haven’t done enough to impress.

When I say eat out, I’m talking about the great outdoors. What more romantic way is there to show your SO how much they mean to you than by organizing a picnic somewhere scenic and memorable? And it only costs as much as you need to spend. It’s the situation that counts, after all. Not whether you’ve packed Beluga Caviar and Bollinger or not. [Read: 10 fun and romantic summer date ideas]

#2 A day in the park. Okay, a day in the park could potentially be romantic, although it might be considered a little ordinary, to say the least. But I’m not actually talking about that kind of park. I’m talking about a ballpark or some other kind of sports stadium–specifically the amateur kind.

That way, if the person you’re trying to impress has a penchant for a particular sport, you get to tick all the right boxes without spending a penny. A win-win situation if ever there’s been one.

#3 Home comforts. If a meal at a restaurant is outside of your budget, then why not show off your culinary skills and invite them to a homemade meal at your place? Impress them with your best-practiced recipes, and create an ambiance that even a high-end joint would struggle to compete with.

Of course, this might not be the ideal choice for a first date and could seem a little forward. However, for a date a little further down the line, one that you wish to progress to a more physical plane, this particular thrifty offering could be the perfect ice breaker. [Read: 10 ideas to make cooking with your partner more fun]

#4 Boot up. If your significant other is the kind of person who loves the great outdoors and all that nature has to offer, why not boot up and invite them on a romantic hike somewhere? Not only does the physical activity take the onus off the constant need to impress and relax the conversation, but it potentially gets you out in perfect solitude.

Just the two of you tramping together through an area of outstanding natural beauty… what could be more romantic? And at the cost of practically nothing!

#5 A cultural affair. Not everyone’s kettle of fish, but how about taking your significant other to a cultural event of some kind? It could be a gallery, a museum, or a one-off affair being used in your locale to promote something.

It’s quiet, promotes good conversation, and there’s a good chance it won’t cost you a penny. Even if you just have to pay a nominal entry fee, it’s unlikely to cost much, and you could potentially stay all day. Now that’s a romantic bargain and a half! [Read: How to be more cultured in an age obsessed with social media]

#6 Something silly. If the apple of your eye is the more fun and frolics type of guy or gal, then steer away from the more serious date offerings, and instead choose something silly and frivolous. A round of crazy golf at the local park is always guaranteed to raise a few laughs. Or how about taking them to a karaoke joint?

Whether you’re a great singer or a terrible one, either end of the scale of vocal proficiency has its own particular charms, depending upon whether your aim is to impress or amuse!

#7 A night at the movies. A trip to the cinema can be quite an expensive affair nowadays, especially once you’ve figured in the popcorn, soda, and hotdogs–or whatever is offered in your particular part of the world. Instead, grab a DVD that you know your SO will be into, and spend the night watching it huddled up on the sofa together. As romantic as it gets, and nominal in cost.

#8 Get physical. Not the jiggy-jiggy kind of getting physical, but the more literal sense of the term. If your other half is the fitness and exercise type, then try getting together with them on a date that reflects this interest. Play squash together, play tennis, go on a long jog, tackle a hard run, or go on a gym date. There are so many options–and they’re mostly free.

Just make sure you are up to it, also. You don’t want to crash and burn at the first fence by sweating like a schoolboy in a spelling test, and passing out after five minutes of moderate warming up!

#9 Call of Duty. That’s right, the world-famous console game of the same name. Whatever the game, if your other half is into virtual action, then why not join them at their place for a gaming marathon? They’ll love the fact that you’re taking their interest seriously, and not only is it free–they’ll actually be paying for the night’s upkeep.

#10 Flea bitten. An unusual one, this, but if they like to do a bit of shopping, try steering them away from the high street and toward the local flea market. Not only is this a cheaper option, but you both may just spot some amazing bargains. Failing that, flea markets and thrift shops always throw up objects of amusingly nostalgic value that are sure to keep the conversation flowing.

#11 Drink up! If a night out on the tiles, moving from swanky bar to even swankier nightclub, seems too pricey an option, then aim for the happy hours. You can do some research beforehand to see which bars are offering happy hours at what times, and do a little pub crawl across them. That way, you’ll both feel like you’ve had a full evening out, at only half the price.

#12 The road to nowhere. Sometimes, the key to a great date is spontaneity, and what could be more spontaneous than jumping in your car, sticking a pin in a map, and going wherever fate takes you?Spontaneous, exciting, and very, very inexpensive. [Read: Couple’s road trip – a perfect escape with your lover]

You don’t have to rob a bank to organize an interesting, fun, and memorable date. Any one of the ideas above should be more than up to the task of creating that perfect moment in time that your loved one will forever fondly recall.

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David Cullen
David Cullen
David Cullen is frequently described as erudite, insightful and witty – but only by himself and only after several large glasses of Rioja....