Dating. Whether you’re meeting someone for the first time, or taking your spouse out for the thousandth time, dating is a fun way to spend time with someone you care about (Or hope to care about). That being said, it can also be a stressful experience for people—like myself—who want to have fun without spending a lot of money. Finding ways to meet that criteria can be challenging, but it’s not a lost cause. If you put a little bit of time into research and planning, you can impress your date and keep your bank account full. The following are some date night ideas for those who prefer to stay on the “less expensive” side of the spectrum.
Idea 1: Grocery Store Picnic
A lot of standard date night ideas involve food. Unless you’re ordering strictly from a value menu, the price of a decent meal for two at a restaurant can easily run up to $20-40. However, rumor has it that many restaurants get some of their food items from local grocery stores. So why not cut out the middleman and go straight to the source?
The idea is that you and your date will go to a grocery store and pick out some items to take on a picnic. You can buy bread, chips, peanut butter or lunch meat, drinks, and some ice cream for $10-12 (Or less if something is on sale). As for plates, bowls, utensils, and cups, you can plan ahead and cut expenses by bringing these from home.
The two of you will then head off for a nice picnic at a park or favorite lookout spot. This idea allows each of you to pick what you want to eat—like at a restaurant—without having to wait for a table or worry about a tip.
Idea 2: Rewards Programs and Gift Cards
So you’re still set on taking your date to a restaurant, even after that amazing grocery store idea? Fine. We’ll do it your way. Since you’re going to be dropping $20-40 anyway, you may as well get something more for your money than good food. Many stores these days have a “shoppers club” of sorts. These usually reward you with points when you make purchases at that store.
These points can then be traded for discounts on purchases or, if the store also sells gas for cars, you can get a discount on your next fill-up. Also, many of these places have special days or items that earn you 2x to 4x the normal amount of points. This is when you go to that store and buy $20-40 (Or more) worth of gift cards for the restaurants you’re likely to take a date to.
This means you’ll get a massive amount of points, which will equal a big future discount and still look like a big spender in the eyes of your date. It’s a win-win.
Idea 3: Treasure Hunt
Food and discounts are nice, but what about the person who wants to walk away from a date with something tangible? First off, whatever you do, keep it legal. My next suggestion is to take your date to a favorite scavenger hunt source. Things like garage sales, thrift stores, flea markets, and even estate sales are great places to find valuable items for rock-bottom prices. What’s more, some of these events allow for haggling, just in case “rock-bottom” isn’t low enough for you.
My wife and I have done this on several occasions and have always enjoyed it. Even if we don’t buy anything, these events usually have items for sale that remind us of something we used to have together, or when we were kids. You can learn a lot about another person as they explain different memories triggered by the items. And, if you’re lucky and have a sharp eye, you may find yourself paying $2 for something that’s worth much more! Not too shabby, eh? It may not be too exciting, but I have found things that I paid $15 for and later sold for $60 or more, so great finds do exist. Also, these places can be a good way to find items that you may collect as a hobby, which will add fuel to the conversation fire between you and your date.
The only catch to these types of events is that they usually take place in the mornings, so make sure your date is a morning person before planning this out. Otherwise, the date will be over before it even begins, and then you’ll be looking for a bargain on happiness—the worst date plan of all.
In the world of dating, money shouldn’t reign supreme
Sure, having loads of cash to throw away on expensive dinners, tickets to shows, or gifts, can simplify a date night. But in the end, those things won’t make a relationship work. My experience has shown me that what people want on a date is sincerity.
Did you have the other person in mind when planning the date? Are you having fun? Were you two smiling at the end of it? If yes, then congratulations are in order. Regardless of how much money you spent, you just bought yourself a great date.
I hope the above date night ideas can help you add some quality when you can’t load up on quantity. Good luck out there!