We all would like to plan the dream date and treat our special boyfriend or girlfriend to all kinds of exotic foods and exciting entertainment. Unfortunately, unless you have a substantial income you must resort to being resourceful and think outside the sometimes stereotyped dating box.
There’s a fine line between being creative and coming across as a cheap tightwad. The last thing you want to do is give the impression that your date is not worth the money you spend. Some do expect you to spend the big bucks. Maybe it’s good to discover this early on.
Planning dates with variety is the answer. If you consistently choose cheap dates you’ll fall in the category of being thought of as consistently cheap. Save on one and splurge a little on another. Preparation and research go a long way toward a lasting relationship.
Keep them guessing. Start off with a couple of inexpensive but fun dates to get to know each other. Then, blow her socks off with a night on the town and drop a few extra well placed bucks. Just be careful it’s her socks you blow off and not your entire weekly dating budget.
Take a hike or a bike. What a great way to be together and have an opportunity for conversation. Walking through a botanical garden or arboretum can be quite romantic.
It can also be free but not perceived as cheap. Same thing with a bike ride. Don’t go on a biking marathon or race. Just a leisurely peddle through the park will do. At the end of the walk or ride enjoy refreshments as the bonding continues.
Sporting events are always a fun way to let your hair down and release your inhibitions without her thinking you’re a nut. Major league sports can be pricy but check out athletic events on the college and local level. One of you might have brothers or sisters playing on the little league teams and showing family support is a great way to win a few points.
Popcorn and peanuts for munchies won’t strain the budget either.
Be social and attend a friend’s house party. Surely, one of you has a friend or family member who’s throwing a get together some evening and you’re invited. This is a good way to meet the other’s friends or family in a less intimidating setting. Probably everything will be provided but don’t go empty handed. Be the gracious guest and spring for a bottle of wine or whatever is appropriate.
Research the bar scene. If you feel taking your date out for a drink is in order and you dread paying for expensive fancy drinks, check out the bars that offer happy hour drinks and free snacks. You can do this by scanning the newspaper or local “on the town” magazines.
When in doubt, call the bar and ask what they’re offering. Even if the happy hour drinks stretch into the regular price drinks, you’re at least off to a good money saving start.
Fun dating doesn’t have to be expensive. You shouldn’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy each other’s company.
Date During the Day to Cut Costs
Day dating is fun, usually cheaper and there are endless choices not available at night. If it’s the first date it’s also less threatening and easier to get off the hook if the date doesn’t go well or not as you expected. A first-timer at night could seem to go on for hours after you’ve dropped a bundle of cash to impress someone who just isn’t for you.
Lunch is cheaper than dinner in most restaurants. It’s much more cost effective to take your date to a fancy restaurant and enjoy the service and ambiance at a noon meal instead of the evening. During the daytime, alcohol is usually not consumed on a date, which leads to another savings. Coffee and tea is now quite pricy but don’t order water unless the other takes the lead first.
Meet for drinks after work. This is a great icebreaker and it’s easy to find a “happy hour” bar or restaurant during the afternoon hours. Do a little earlier research and you might even be able to feed your date with free snacks offered as an incentive to frequent the place. Or, if all is going well, you could invite her to a simple, fun place to dine after drinks.
Sunday afternoon ice cream together in an old-fashioned ice cream parlor is nostalgic and fun. Do a little pre tasting of their wares and enjoy each other’s creativity as you choose the toppings. If you can’t find the aforementioned parlor, purchase ice cream cones to go and enjoy them as you stroll in a nearby park. That’s a wonderful time and place to talk and get to know each other.
Packing a picnic lunch to spread in the park or by the lake is always impressive and can be done cheaply. The lunch doesn’t have to look cheap though. Make some finger sandwiches with a few chips and dips, perhaps a little cheese and wine if it’s allowed in the park. Don’t forget to include a decadent dessert. A caveat: picnics with someone special can become habit forming.
Matinee movies are always offered at discount prices. (Too bad the popcorn isn’t.) Movies, however, are not conducive to conversation and this is not good if it’s a first date, but it could lead to a few “accidental” touches of knees and hands to see if there’s any chemistry. Plus, the movie gives you a perfect lead-in to conversation afterwards.
If both of you enjoy the more active date and are athletic, rock climbing is becoming popular. It’s not expensive and provides an opportunity for lots of laughs. On some climbing you depend on each other for rope pulling and support. A round of miniature golf or a bucket of balls at a driving range also offer a little competition for the athletically inclined.
Consider meeting somewhere and save the cost of picking her up. This is especially good if you decide to cut the date short. And, you don’t have to worry about the awkward walks to the door that’s usually expected at night. Daytime dating is more casual and less intimidating than in the dark of night. Enjoy the unlimited choices and saving money of a date in the daytime.
Is She Open to Going Dutch on Your Date?
We live in expensive times and trying to date on a budget can be harmful to your relationships if you’re viewed as a cheap tightwad. It’s long been the norm for men to pay the check when dating but fortunately this has changed. Some prefer Dutch Dating as a way of easing the high costs of an evening out.
Going Dutch is a slang term that means each person pays his or her share when eating out or for entertainment admission. It’s also called a Dutch Date or Dutch Treat, quite common in some countries such as Sweden where couples take turns paying the check or splitting it.
Dutch Dating can be a delicate situation and may or may not be accepted where you are. In America, this practice is typically more common with less affluent people. However, in the late 1960s and 70s, a wave of feminism swept the country encouraging women to seek equality and pay their own way. They became offended if the gentleman grabbed the check. Many felt if the man paid for the dinner, she might be expected to provide favors later.
It’s generally accepted that whoever asks the other out then the burden of paying falls on them. This is particularly common if it’s the first date. True, it’s usually the man who initiates the first date but not always.
If this is true and the male initiated the first date go ahead and bite the budget bullet and pay up. Women however, should be mindful of her expenses and not go overboard when ordering or suggesting places to go.
Many women will speak right up and offer to pay the bill or at least her half in hopes of keeping the playing field level. Then, if the date doesn’t go well she doesn’t feel obligated in any way. It can still be awkward even if the woman offers to go Dutch and on the first date the male should probably insist, especially if you want it to lead to a second date.
That might be a good time to talk about the Dutch Date possibility. Listen to each other’s thoughts on the matter. At least it’s good fodder for conversation if it’s lagging. If you’re having trouble deciding on who’s going to pay, flip a coin or perhaps one of you get the tip and the other the check.
If you, whether man or woman, are planning to pay the bill don’t be embarrassed to use a coupon if you have one. Many restaurants offer a buy one get one free coupon. Simply place the coupon with the credit card or cash on the table and your date doesn’t have to know and the wait staff probably won’t even mention it.
Go to a restaurant on one of their “special” nights and dine on the discounted fare. You could even use this as a reason to ask out your date saying the Wednesday night special is delicious. Even if you’re going Dutch there’s no reason not to try and save money. Being frugal should be an attribute she admires. And, that works both ways.
Going Dutch can be a touchy situation, especially on a romantic date or a business lunch. Weigh each situation separately. A return engagement may depend on your picking up at least the first check. Then, if she feels the same chemistry as you, sharing expenses will be a joy, not a problem.
Plan to Go Out By Staying In
Going out on the town is fun and everyone should do it as often as possible. But, a date night at home could be just as fun and who knows what it could lead to. With a little imagination and planning, an evening in can be filled with so many memories that you might want to do it often. And, whether you spend a little money or a lot, you don’t have to worry about how you dress or how you act. Just be together and enjoy.
Prepare one of your specialty dishes cooked especially for him or her. Nothing says loving like something in the oven that emits a delicious aroma as your mate walks in the front door. Offer a glass of wine or Champaign and lead her to a comfortable seat while waiting for you to serve. Or, let your date watch your finishing touches and be impressed with your culinary skills.
Cook a meal together. You could keep it simple such as making a pizza or grilling a steak outside on the smoker. Or, you could pick a more complicated recipe from one of your favorite celebrity chefs and try it out. Whether or not the meal turns out well you’ll have a great time sharing stories as you cook. Don’t forget dessert and soft music for dancing. When you’re home it’s easy to dance like nobody’s watching.
Throw a blanket on the ground in the back yard and watch shooting stars. This could be something to do after dinner at home. Conversation seems to come easy at night with a canopy of stars overhead. If you want to kick it up a notch, gaze at the moon and stars through a telescope. You can really impress your date if you’ve done a little research on the heavenly bodies and relate a few impressive facts.
Rent a romantic movie and pop popcorn. There are so many romantic movies that are best shared with someone you love (or may learn to love). Some of the oldies may be best such as Casablanca or Night to Remember. And, believe it or not a scary movie can sometimes be romantic and lead to snuggling.
Play board games, cards, and dominos or work a jigsaw puzzle together. Inexpensive games can be found at the local thrift store or at yard sales. Prizes for the winner will make the games more exciting. 3D puzzles are very challenging and can be built to be permanently displayed as a memento of your time together. Serve a few snacks and beverages and your evening is complete.
Fix up a piece of old furniture together you may have found at a garage sale or unfinished furniture store. This may take more than one evening and you can anticipate doing the next step such as sanding, painting or decorating the finished piece.
Each person could decorate with their own particular flare. Even if it turns out looking bad, it was worth it for the time spent together and you can look at it later and laugh. Don’t forget to have snacks ready for breaks or order in. With the rising cost of going out, date nights in are becoming the more in thing to do.
Some of the Most Romantic Dates are Free (or Almost)
Jetting off to a foreign land with the one you love or eating in a fancy French restaurant while violins serenade you table side is very romantic. Can you afford this? Even if you can you may be missing out on some of the most romantic dates that can fill you with memories forever.
How many times have you asked yourself what you could do different on your next date? You know if you fumble around indecisively she may perceive you as less than confident.
Being unsure of yourself is not romantic and women do compare their dates with the dates of their friends. Consistently planning boring dates could lead to the final date. Be a leader, take charge and plan your dates with romance and thought, not necessarily with cash and credit cards.
An ice cream and magazine date is an inexpensive and fun way to laugh and learn about each other. Buy yours and hers favorite ice cream and head to a quiet spot in a park or garden.
Pints, or other small containers of ice cream would be best for this and don’t forget spoons and napkins. On your way to the site, pick up a couple of the tabloid magazines with stories of celebrities, UFOs or other strange happenings. Laugh at the ridiculous articles and don’t forget to share a nibble of each other’s ice cream…or each other.
Walks along the beach are always filled with romance. Hold hands, go barefoot and get your feet wet as you watch the waves crash. Yes, it does happen in real life too, not just the movies. And, who can resist a soft kiss as the sun slips slowly below the horizon.
Read poetry to each other. This can be done at home or in some romantic location near the water or flower garden. Don’t knock this idea until you’ve tried it. Also, each of you could try your hand at writing a poem about each other. Sipping on a little wine might make the verses flow a little more freely.
Just be together and talk. What, without the television on? Yes. Talk about each other’s goals in life, their dreams and plans for the future. Also talk about what’s going on in your current life, both the good and the bad. Share things that you’re grateful for and what you look for in a person you enjoy being with. Communicate.
Fill balloons with notes. This would work well in conjunction with the talk date if you plan ahead. Get several small balloons and stuff each of them with a note telling what you like about the person you’re with. It’s more fun and exciting if you give your friend a pin to burst the balloon as the note falls out.
Snuggle together on a rainy day as you fondue chocolate strawberries and marshmallows.
Swap out back and foot massages with warm massage oil. Warning: This could lead to repeat performances. Some of the best things in life are free and that goes for best dates too.