Dating on a budget
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Dating on a Dime

So you're on the prowl; same. I don't know about you, but meeting people in my city is extremely hard. To quote the great Bonnie Tyler, "Where have all the good men gone?" I'll let you know when I find out. But back to the topic at hand: Dating. Who knew dating would be so hard? and so expensive. Not only are you paying fees to be on dating app(s), but there is also the cost of the date.

Reader's Digest quotes that reported the average single American spends about $60 a month on dating.1 I don't know about you, but I think that seems low. I can easily spend $60 on a single date with a few drinks. Dating is hard enough. How am I going to meet Mr. Right if I can't even afford a few dates each month? By getting creative, that's how. Here are some creative and cheap date ideas that will also give you an opportunity to get to know someone.

Animal shelter

Who doesn't love a good puppy snuggle?! (I have to say puppy because I'm allergic to cats, but you do you.) If your date is also an animal lover, visit your local humane society. It's free (unless you decide to adopt a new best friend) and it's a great conversation starter (for the day of the date, and the future).

Hang at the coffee house

Coffee house coffee isn't exactly cheap, but it's worth it when you can make an afternoon or evening out of it. Check out your local scene to see if any coffee houses are having events like art shows. Some of our locals even have live music on the weekends. At minimum, you can enjoy the comfy seat, background music, dim lighting (ambiance!) and good conversation.

Taste Test

Go to a brewery, winery or liquor store for FREE tastings. Kick back a little and relax knowing you won't have to calculate every sip. And who knows, by the end of the night you might like a particular selection and you'll actually have the cash to buy it!

Free art shows

Ooo, art shows. So cultured, so economical! Art can be a great conversation starter and let you into your date's creative thoughts. Do you enjoy the same mediums? Can you learn from each other? Enjoy the artsy side of life, and sometimes there's free wine.

Dollar menu done right

Nothing wrong with being a little ironic, don't you think? (Oh, Alanis. You minx, you.) Be goofy, dress fancy and go for some cheapo grub. I'm a sucker for making a fool out of myself in public, and I also like a guy who can keep up with me. So my personal spin on this date would be to wear 80's prom attire. Poufy sleeves, big hair and all! Spice it up to your own liking.

Thrift store couture

Yes, you read that right. Meet your date at the local thrift store. You each get $10. Now go shop for each other. Set some rules if you must, but the other person has to wear what you buy them. Once you have outfits for the date, go do something on the cheap - take a walk in the park, grab ice cream, whatever you want! And enjoy some giggles as people awkwardly stare.

Hit happy hour

Check out the happy hour specials at bars and restaurants in your area. A lot of nice restaurants have good happy hours that include deals on both cocktails and apps. One of my favorite local spots is a nicer restaurant that has half price martinis and $5 apps daily from 4 - 6 pm. It's a great way to enjoy a nicer atmosphere for a lower price.

Show your competitive side

I love to couple this one with a cheap happy hour at a pub (I'm talking like $3 tall boys). Hit a spot that also has an arcade scene. I'm personally a skee-ball fan, but do you! I love to get a little competitive - loser buys the next round. And the best part is it just takes quarters to keep the fun going.

Visit a farm or orchard

This is an awesome idea for a day date if you're not quite committed to giving up your evenings to get to know someone. And who doesn't love fresh fruit? I really enjoy a blackberry farm just north of town. Blackberries are typically a more expensive fruit (leave it to me to have expensive taste), but on the high end it will cost about $5 per pound.2 You'll have to time this date around what's in season and the perfect weather, but this is an inexpensive way to spend time getting to know someone.

Share old photos or yearbooks

Maybe tuck this away for date #2 or #3 (or 10!), but this is a great way to get to know someone. In my opinion, it's best to do over drinks. Your date has history, find out what it is! Don't tell everyone my secret, but I had a mullet when I was a kid. Yes, a mullet. I blame my dad for taking me to a barber instead of a normal kids' cut place.


1Reader's Digest Editors. (n.d.). Can We Talk about How Expensive Dating Is? Retrieved from Reader's Digest:

2Staff. (2019). Prices for U-Pick Fruits and Vegetables. Retrieved from Pick Your Own:

Lacey Frazier
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Lacey Frazier

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