Considering how much money young adults spend on loans every year, it’s a surprise to some that dating is still feasible.
Most of us can’t afford to be extravagant during dates since, well, there’s hardly any money to spend.
The good news is, unlike what the movies tell you, you don’t have to blow hundreds of dollars on every date. In fact, according to data from Match.com, the average amount of money spent on dates every month is $61.53.
If you live in more metropolitan areas, it’s quite easy to spend even more.
With a little creativity and resourcefulness, you can create an enjoyable experience for both you and your significant other at almost no cost.
Why cheap date nights are a smart move
One aspect of saving money that most people in their 20s never consider is saving for retirement.
Despite the lack of motivation, which is likely due to a lack of foresight, most twenty-year olds are never able to realize how exponentially that money could grow. In fact, let’s do a little math.
If you set aside $100 every month from the time you’re 25, your money should grow at an average rate of 5.7% every year.
In ten years time, you’re going to have $16,124 from an initial investment of $12,000. By the time you’re 45, you’re going to have $44,597. If you’re diligent enough, you will likely have even more since most people increase their monthly contribution with time.
That’s enough to pay most people’s student loans, from saving alone.
The dating scene may seem like an odd place to try and save money, but considering an average of $738.36 spent on dating every year, it’s actually the perfect place to start. If you are able to conserve even that amount every year, you will have over $3,000 in five years time.
Here are some of the most fun and cheap date ideas we could come up with to help you find love without breaking the bank.
Fun cheap date ideas to try this year
1. Rent bicycles and explore your surroundings
Bike-sharing programs are quite common in cities these days. All you have to do is rent a bike together with your date for the day and explore your neighborhood.
Find a pretty trail and explore new places you haven’t been before, maybe even stop by the park for a picnic.
The idea is to visit as much scenery as you can within the hours of the day.
Cost: $10-30 for an hour
2. Host a game night
Going out for a a date will inevitably lead to you spending more money than you really need to.
A night out isn't a bad idea when you have a decent amount of money to burn as a reward, once in a while.
This is a great idea for a double date or group date. You can all have fun without sacrificing a week worth of food.
Cost: Under $25 or free if you already have games
3. Have a fun exercise session together
This point greatly relies on the assumption that you both enjoy being active outside the house. If you’re both into athletics or exercise you could plan a day out exercising with your date.
Alternatively, a yoga class, a jog or a day out at the gym would be a fun exercise.
Places like Orange Theory, SoulCycle and others usually give you your first class free, which makes this a great free date idea.
4. Play tourist for the day
Sightseeing is the oldest and cheapest way to save money. Chances are pretty high you haven’t seen every corner of your city, especially if you live in a metropolitan area.
Even if you haven’t, there are chances the other person hasn’t. Pretend to be tourists for the day and visit new areas of the town.
If you know an interesting part of the town that date may not, suggest visiting that area.
You might be surprised about how mundanity can transform into something interesting when viewed from someone else’s eyes.
5. Ask each other the “36 questions that lead to love”
There hasn’t been that many studies into it, if any at all, but according to prominent physicians, playing the "36 questions to love" game might actually work.
It may be a way to form intimacy and develop a strong relationship through self disclosure.
It’s not the best idea for every date out there though, since most people are afraid of being vulnerable. As such, they may not be willing to reveal so much personal information.
6. Head to the woods and go hiking
Why not get out of the house for a fun day outdoors?
Throw on your boots and plan a day out in the mountains or hills with your date. You could get to know each other more intimately while you face a physical challenge.
If you’re both into the great outdoors, the better.
Before you leave, though, be sure to prepare adequately. Dehydration is one of the leading causes of death on particularly high climbs, which is usually as a result of terrible planning.
Cost: Less than $20 for water and snacks
7. Go on a grown-up treasure hunt
If you’ve never heard of Geocaching, it’s a free app that helps you go on a treasure hunt around your city.
It relies on GPS coordinates provided by uses to help them find containers hidden all around the world. Once you find one of them, you sign the log book and exchange trinkets.Nearly all museums have times of the day every week when they offer free entrance. If you’re able to find one, have them visit and see some interesting pieces of art and history.
At the time of writing, there are over two million geocaches in over 180 countries worldwide. Chances are high there are already some around you. Get the app and have fun.
8. Make your own Instagram or Snapchat story
Even if you’ve never used Snapchat or Instagram stories before, this may be a fun beginning to what may turn out to be a fun relationship with the app.
Filling up moments for use on your Snapchat or Instagram story can be as fun and goofy as you want it to be.
Go as far as the other person is willing to take it - be as silly as you want!
At the end of the day, you will have some fun moments to share with your date and your friends. The Snaps might not last long, but eh, maybe the memories will.
9. Netflix and chill
Euphemisms aside, there are a lot of great shows on Netflix that you can binge watch all day and night.
There are a ton of more movies that you will likely ever care to watch in your lifetime, which translates to enough content to satisfy literally anybody’s taste.
If you can get your hands on a projector, you might be able to treat yourselves to a home cinema experience. Just don’t forget the popcorn.
And who knows what a little Netflix and Chill can lead up to?
Cost: $10.99 for a Netflix subscription
10. Browse a flea, food, or farmer’s market
Track down a busy marketplace next to you and spend your day exploring antiques or sampling food.
It’s a great way to maximize on your surroundings and learn a lot about the other person based on the kind of things they are interested in.
In the process, you’re almost guaranteed to come across something that you both like and give rise to some interesting conversations.
Who knows, later on, you can even go back and get them something they seemed to be really interested in.
Cost: Less than $20 for food or a gift from the market
11. Look for free hours at a local museum
Nearly all museums have times of the day every week when they offer free entrance. If you’re able to find one, have them visit and see some interesting pieces of art and history.
Cheap date ideas can be the start of real love
One of the beauties of not spending too much money on a date is you can focus on getting to know each other.
While extravagant dinners and helicopter rides may sound great, you can't build a solid relationship based on the amount of money you spent.
Save yourself some money and get to know your date with any of the cheap date ideas above.
And if you get end up getting married, you can thank us later.