Whether you’re searching for a soulmate or summer fling this season, be ready to dish out the dollars. Paying for dinner and drinks will quickly drain your bank account before Labor Day rolls around, so you might consider cheaper ways to woo that special someone.
It’s not just the cost of food and wine that makes dating so expensive. From cab fares to moving outings to concert tickets, you might need a second job just to support your search for love. Happily, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to impress on a first, second or even third date, so check out some of these frugal ideas to keep your date swooning all summer.
Share a special experience with a date by giving back to your local community together. You could help build a home, spruce up a local park or read to less fortunate kids. Register with VolunteerMatchto get opportunity alerts in your area that match your interests.
2. Enjoy a Festival
Cities across the country host summer festivals that offer free music, cheap food and the opportunity to take in the local culture. Not sure what your area offers? Check out this list of free things to do in some of the larger cities, or check your town’s municipal website for event information.
3. Plan a Picnic
Find a quiet location with a nice view to host a romantic picnic. Pack a blanket, bottle of wine, some tasty treats like cheese, crackers and fruit, and be prepared to share an intimate picnic with little distractions. Stream your date’s favorite music via Pandora on your smartphone using the speaker for an extra touch.
4. Play Outdoors
Your backyard is home to a host of free and fun activities like hiking, biking, running or playing tennis. Find out what types of activities your date enjoys most and plan the day accordingly with a backpack filled with snacks, refreshments and perhaps a bottle of wine.
5. Grab a Discount Gift Card
Whether heading to the movies or a restaurant (or both!), you can buy gift cards for less than face value from sites like GiftCardGranny.com to offset the cost of your activities. Cards are available for popular eateries like Chili’s and Olive Garden, or for online ticket sellers like Fandango.
6. Watch for Daily Deals
Daily deal sites offer tons of great date ideas from adventure experiences to cooking classes, all at a hugely discounted rate. Keep your eyes peeled for local deals for dining, dancing, craft classes or wine tasting and experience something new together.
7. Take a Walking Tour
Take your date on a walking tour of your own town or a nearby city and let your smartphone lead you. The HearPlanet app provides details about all the places around you and alerts you to must-see attractions. The audio guide makes touring easy and intimate for you and your date.
8. Plan A Yard Sale Scavenger Hunt
Who doesn’t enjoy hunting down a bargain? If you and your date enjoy yard saling, make a game of it one weekend by creating a scavenger hunt. Use Craigslist to research garage sales in your area or pull them from local newspaper listings, then map out your route. Come up with a list of items you and your date must find — think traditional yard sale goods like kitchen supplies, home goods, CDs and clothes. Get creative and have fun with it!
9. Head to the Farmer’s Market
Farmer markets are full of fresh produce and tasty foods that you and your date will enjoy sampling. Browse the booths, oogle at the inventory and pick up a few items for dinner. Then, use your newfound ingredients to whip us a dinner at home, and enjoy each other’s company while chopping and sautéing.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.