Does it really pay to go overboard on the first date? Is 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’s time to move on.
If that person is 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 plan a date that will not make you look cheap.
1. Enjoy the arts
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 invest in an annual pass, which may be much cheaper than you think.
A day strolling through a museum is affordable. Some museums are free, and many others cost $10 or less to visit.
2. Schedule a video game competition
If you own a video game console, a little healthy competition is a great way to spend time with your date. When you want to change things up a little, Redbox is always available and offers inexpensive video game rentals.
3. Plan a movie night
Throw a bag of popcorn in the microwave, pop open a soft drink, turn on your favorite flick, and you have a movie date in the comfort of your own home.
If you’re both big movie buffs, check out: “13 Easy Ways to Save Big Bucks at the Movies.”
4. Visit a national park or a zoo
5. Embrace your inner chef
Whip up your favorite dish in the kitchen and head out to the local park for a romantic picnic. And if you’re not a cook, grab takeout instead. No tip, no wait — just you and your mate.
6. Enjoy the great outdoors
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. In winter, how about some snowshoeing?
7. Host a date night in
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
Several years ago, I realized I had no desire to spend hundreds of dollars at the spa. So, I set up a manicure, pedicure and massage station in my home for my loved one and me.
During our first session, we saved much more than $200 and even enjoyed an impromptu spa lunch.
9. Get fit
Take a class together at the local recreation center. The cost of admission is usually not more than a few dollars per session.
10. Visit the local flea market
If it’s not scorching hot outside, a flea market is a great place to get to know each other while strolling up and down the aisles.
And if you decide to purchase an item, it will likely be at a fraction of the cost you’re accustomed to paying at traditional retail outlets.
11. Attend a community event
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
A weekend getaway is a fun way to spend time together, but 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.