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Four creative date ideas that won’t break the bank

Dating is fun, but it can also be pricey. If you’re single and looking for love, chances are you’d want to jump at the opportunity to hang out with a new friend who seems fun, but maybe you’re hesitant about the cost involved with romantic pursuits. Equally, if you’re in a long-term relationship — maybe homeowners or parents — continuing to spend money on quality time dating with your partner can felt like a treat that’s just not financially viable.

The good news is, there are lots of ways to have all the butterflies of dating without spending too much. Keep reading to find out just a few of the inventive ways to be romantic, on a pocket-friendly budget.

Go out for breakfast or lunch, instead of dinner

When you hear the words ‘romantic date’ it’s likely the image that appears in your mind is of two well-dressed figures in an intimate nighttime setting, maybe over candlelight, gazing deeply into each other’s eyes. While this scene is no doubt classically romantic, dinner doesn’t come cheap. Instead of booking a dinner date, why not suggest meeting for breakfast or lunch? The temptation to splash out at dinner on extra food courses, or sharing a bottle of wine, can quickly add to the final bill — not to mention feeling the need to get a new dressed-to-kill outfit, which can add to costs before you’ve even met! Arranging a date for earlier in the day, you’ll feel this temptation is much less.

You can fall in love just as easily over a latte or herbal tea, for a fraction of the cost.

Don’t be afraid to ‘go Dutch’

For men, there can be pressure to pick up the bill regardless of your financial situation — indeed, many people would still state that the man should pay on a first date. However, in an ever-increasingly progressive society, there’s no shame in suggesting — or allowing — your partner to split the bill. If you’d rather pick up the cost, as a treat to your date, then consider allowing them to return the favor on your next meet up.

Group dates: fun, social and savvy

On early dates, nerves can get the better of you; it’s comforting to know that there’s a group of people there to ease the tension and help you relax. Also, you get a great measure of a person’s character by meeting their friends, so it’s a perfect way to get to know more about your date. As such, group dates offer a win: win situation for new couples. Furthermore, they give you an opportunity to introduce your friends to any single people in your date’s social circle — is there anything more gratifying than the pleasure of introducing a new couple?

On the other hand, if you’ve been with your partner for a long time and you share lots of mutual friends, then organizing a group date is a cost-effective way of enjoying a date night and catching up with your friends at the same time. Certainly, there’d be no complaints about that!

There are lots of fun group date ideas from low-key to once-in-a-lifetime activities; you can go to one of your favorite informal restaurants and split pizzas, or organize an evening somewhere like Boston Escape Room, to give everyone an experience they’ll never forget.

When group dating, Behavioral Economics suggests that one person, or couple, should take responsibility for picking up everyone’s bill at the end of the night. Then, next time someone else covers the whole cost, and you repeat this until everyone has paid for one date each. Then, you go round the group again. When taking it in turns like this, the ‘pain of paying’ falls on only one of the party (and, interestingly, the ‘pain’ felt isn’t actually that much higher than if they were just paying for themselves). For everyone else, the fact that someone else paid makes it feel as though they got to enjoy the date for free. While you won’t actually save money in the long run — as one time you will end up paying for everyone — it sure feels as though you are.

Check out what’s free in your local neighborhood

Of course, the best way to avoid the ‘pain of paying’ is to look for free things to do together. Browse online or pick up a magazine in your local area, ask around with friends or at work and see what free things are going where you live. Chances are there’s a plethora of different events taking place. If you’re a couple who’s into culture, look for exhibitions, book reviews, shows from unsigned music acts, theatre dress rehearsals or life drawing classes. If you’re lovers of the outdoors, look for free organized fitness classes or running clubs — as the saying goes, “Couples who sweat together, stay together”.

It’s good to get out there and try new things as a couple. If you don’t enjoy it, you didn’t spend any money on it anyway, so you can be as experimental as you’d like.

A budget-savvy dinner party

Another idea for group dating: monthly dinner parties hosted at home. Cooking for, and entertaining, a large group of friends might seem like a big expense, but with an amount of forward planning, and some financial constraints, it needn’t be. Discuss the idea with your friends, and agree on a per-head budget — maybe try $5 per person to start. If you’re a group who like a healthy bit of competition, judge a ‘winner’ and name them the couple who host the best dinner party.

You’d be amazed at the sort of menu you can plan on a budget. Nevertheless, it’s worth remembering that the important thing is spending quality time with your partner, and your friends, so the food isn’t all that crucial anyway.

In conclusion…

Whether it’s your first, fiftieth or five-hundredth date, it is possible to keep the magic alive without fuss or expense. Happy romancing!


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Susan Paige

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