12 Creative Ways to Date When Money Is Tight

A modest budget shouldn’t keep you from enjoying quality time with that special someone. Here are low-cost ways to keep things spicy.


Does it really pay to go overboard on the first date? Isn’t it a genuine connection you’re seeking and not just a fling?

Do yourself a favor: When you’ve found the potential man or woman of your dreams, be upfront about your financial situation, even if funds are limited.

If your prospective partner is unwilling to understand your situation, it is time to move on.

If they’re still willing to give it a shot, that’s great news. But you’ll have to think outside the box and search for creative but low-cost date ideas to keep things spicy.

Here are a dozen frugal ways to date that will not make you look cheap.

1. Enjoy the arts

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Visit a local museum or attend a play at the community theater to support and enjoy the arts. Search online for specials from Groupon and LivingSocial or go for an annual pass, which may be much cheaper than you think.

A day strolling through a museum is very affordable. Some are free, and many others cost $10 or less.

2. Schedule a video game competition

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If you own a video game console, a little healthy competition on the Wii or Xbox Kinect is a great way to spend time with your date. To change things up a little, Redbox is always available and offers inexpensive video game rentals.

3. Plan a movie night

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Throw a bag of popcorn in the microwave, pop open a soft drink, turn on your favorite flick from Netflix or Redbox, and you have a movie date in the comfort of your own home.

4. Visit a national park or a zoo

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A comprehensive list of national parks can be found at the National Park Service website. Also, be on the lookout for free admission days at parks, museums and zoos.

5. Embrace your inner chef

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Whip up your favorite dish in the kitchen and head out to the local park for a romantic picnic. And if you’re no cook, grab takeout instead. No tip, no wait; just you and your mate.

6. Enjoy the great outdoors

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Perhaps admission to your state parks is free. If so, put on your hiking boots and head out with a picnic lunch. Or maybe go swimming or boating on a lake. How about snowshoeing in winter?

7. Host a date night in

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Instead of spending $100 at a fine-dining establishment, check the sales circular to spot coupons and deals on your favorite foods and spend the night inside. Dress up the table, light the candles and even add a glass of wine or champagne to the mix.

8. Create a spa session

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Several years ago, I realized I had no desire to spend hundreds at the spa. So, I set up a manicure, pedicure and massage station in my home. During our first session, we saved much more than $200 and even enjoyed an impromptu spa lunch.

9. Get fit

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Take a class at the local recreation center. The cost of admission is usually not more than a few dollars per session. See: “DIY Fitness: 10 Tips to Get in Shape Without the Gym” and “9 Best Low-Cost Exercises for Weight Loss.”

10. Visit the local flea market

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If it’s not scorching hot outside or you find one in an indoor location, a flea market is a great place to get to know each other while strolling up and down the aisles. And if you do decide to purchase an item, it will likely be at a fraction of the cost you’re accustomed to paying in traditional retail outlets.

11. Attend a community event

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Search the entertainment section of your local paper for free community events, such as art walks, concerts in the park, street fairs and events at the local college.

12. Take a mini vacation

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If you want to take a weekend trip, don’t wait until the last minute to book flights and travel accommodations –unless you spot a last-minute deal. Instead, plan ahead and start saving money. Then, search for deals on airfare, dining, entertainment and lodging using travel and daily deal sites.

Do you have any low-cost date ideas in mind? Share your thoughts by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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