When you think of dating, you probably think of getting drinks, going to dinner, or seeing a movie. These are classic go-to dates, but they all cost money and a lot of it. Now, it’s not cheap to want to know ways to date without spending money.
If you work for minimum wage, you could be spending more than six hours of your paycheck in one evening. But you shouldn’t have to break into your savings just to get to know someone and have a good time.
There are plenty of ways to impress your date without throwing money at them. In fact, these money-saving date ideas maybe even more impressive because they are creative and thoughtful.
[Read: 20 fun and unconventional date ideas you can try]
How to date without spending money
It can be intimidating to date when you’re on a tight budget. You don’t want to come off as cheap. It can also be embarrassing and awkward to talk about money on a first date or early on in a relationship.
So, how do you go about dating without spending money?
Talk about it. It is plain and simple. I know it can feel embarrassing, but letting the person you’re dating know you’re on a budget can not only make things easier for you from here on out, but also help them understand your situation.
You can work together to come up with fun date ideas that don’t require spending a lot of money or any at all. It doesn’t have to mean you go eat at McDonald’s. It just means you aren’t going to a boogie restaurant or club. And that is okay.
If your date doesn’t understand your situation, they probably aren’t someone you want to be dating. Whether they are in the same boat as you or not, they should be willing to make you comfortable and meet you halfway.
[Read: 15 of the most memorable things you can do on a first date]
Ways to date without spending money
Free dates don’t have to be boring. Just because you aren’t spending an excess of cash doesn’t mean you are being cheap. You can impress your date with a romantic date without spending any money at all.
But, you have to think about what you like to do. Some of these ideas will speak to you and others won’t. You need to consider your preferences as well as whoever you’re dating. I know dinner and drinks sort of speak to everyone, but going on a date without spending money takes a little more thought.
#1 Go for a walk. This is the easiest way to date without spending money. Get outdoors and take a stroll. You can walk through your neighborhood or a park. If you really want to go all out, bring coffee from home in reusable travel mugs.
This will show your thoughtfulness for them and for the planet. Going for a walk seems so simple, but you get to know each other just as well as you would sitting at a bar, only you get exercise. You don’t have distractions, but you do have things to catch your attention and help guide the conversation. [Read: 30 fun, sexy and free dating ideas that are totally worth it]
#2 Try window shopping. Window shopping is how almost all middle school dates start. You go to the mall and meet up with your crush and just hang around. Who says you can’t do that as adults?
You can try on weird outfits, take a peak in Spencer’s Gifts, and of course, sneak some free samples at the food court. This free date will not only be fun, but it will bring you back to the enjoyment of young love.
#3 Set up a picnic. Why go spend $100 on a fancy dinner filled with weird ingredients and small portions when you can use what you have at home to make a delicious meal and enjoy it outside on a beautiful day?
You can even ask your date what sort of food they would like so you are prepared, and they know you’re thinking of them. A picnic is more romantic than you’d think. It is a sweet way to enjoy a meal together that you made yourself. If you can’t cook, you can even do something simple like sandwiches. [Read: The best and worst venues for romantic picnics – The full guide to perfect picnic dates]
#4 Find a park or garden. If you take the time to do a little Googling, you will likely find some parks, gardens, or even an arboretum to explore with your significant other. You can take photos, discover new plants and animals. You may even meet some other interesting people while you’re there.
These places run off of donations, so they are usually free to enter. Then if you really like it, you can return and make it a tradition, and hopefully donate when you can. A lot of local gardens also offer classes on certain species or how to plant and care for your own garden which could be fun.
#5 Volunteer. Volunteering is the best way to give back when you don’t have the budget to donate. I know it may not be the most glamorous, but taking your date to a soup kitchen or beach clean up will really bond you. It can also help you connect over something you are passionate about.
Volunteering isn’t just good for the soul, but making it something you do together as a couple is a great way to keep your connection alive and strong. [Read: Here are 20 practical ways to stop being selfish]
#6 Exercise. If you already pay for a gym membership, you should be allowed guest passes every so often. If your date likes to work out, that is certainly a great way to share an afternoon. Exercise releases feel-good hormones, along with being with someone you like, that will make the date very enjoyable.
You can run laps, climb an indoor rock wall, or take a class together.
#7 Set up a movie night. Sure, Netflix and chill has been a thing for years now, but that isn’t really a date. Instead of inviting your date to your place to watch the first 20 minutes of a cheesy movie, actually plan it out.
Light some candles, clean the room, have a soft blanket in case they get cold, and prepare some snacks. You can dim the lights and actually make it feel like you’re at the movies. [Read: The perfect movie date guide to build serious sexual chemistry in no time]
#8 Play games. Bowling, axe throwing, and mini-golf all cost money, but there are plenty of other games you can play without the out of pocket costs. Take a look at what you have. Maybe you have a corn hole set in your garage? Or maybe ping pong in your basement?
Board games and card games are extremely underrated when it comes to dates.
#9 Go to a museum. Many museums for history and art are free. You can explore a time throughout history or a new art exhibit together without spending a penny. This can be fun whether you are interested in art or not. Just doing something out of the norm with your partner is what it is all about. [Read: How to not be boring and keep your dates exciting]
#10 Make a challenge meal. Going out or ordering out costs a lot of money. Instead, cook what you have, but make it fun. Instead of going for grilled cheese, have your partner pick out six or so ingredients in your fridge or cupboard. Then you have to come up with a meal featuring just those items.
Make your own rules, and next time it will be your partner’s turn. Challenges like this are not just fun but add some healthy competition to your relationship.
[Read: 15 fun and romantic things to do that are budget-friendly]
There are plenty of ways to date without spending money, you just need to be honest about it and have fun with it.
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