After taking a little hiatus from the dating scene to do the whole self-discovery, I’m just focusing on myself thing, I quickly realized that while dating may be kind to my ego (i.e., it’s always fun when someone try to impress you, is it not?) it was most definitely not kind to my wallet. While singles like to complain that it sucks to be them because their hearts are feeling empty, let me tell you, one major benefit of remaining single, is it keeps your wallet full.
Let’s be real. Dating is expensive.
As someone who took a year off from dating and wanted to jump back into the pool, let’s just say I needed do a little work on myself. For one, my wardrobe needed a little bit of an upgrade in order to “dress to impress.” Two, my hair was in desperate need of professional attention. Three, don’t even get me started on my nails. While guys tend to say they don’t care or notice that kind of stuff, personally, I needed a mini-makeover to give my confidence a little boost. After all, when you feel good, you look good.
But that’s only the beginning. We haven’t even reached the actual dating part.
Now, I am one hundred percent about equality when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex. I don’t mind being the first to text, and I most definitely don’t mind asking a guy out. I’m honestly too Type-A to wait around for a guy to get his stuff together. So, when it comes to paying for dates, I don’t go into them expecting a guy to pay. It doesn’t matter if he ends up paying for the whole thing or not, it’s always just nice to offer. But coffee, dinner dates, and drinks here and there can definitely add up.
For me, add up they did.
When that lovely credit card bill came in the mail, I found out that I ended up spending more in a month of dating than when I was single and partaking in the whole Netflix and chill thing by myself.
So, how does one single twenty-something navigate the dating scene without going broke? According to Lisa Daily, dating expert and bestselling author of Stop Getting Dumped, “The key to avoiding going broke while dating without being a cheap date is to use your imagination instead of your cash. As long as you put in the effort to create a great experience for both of you, your date will feel like a million bucks. Even if you only spent ten.”
Here are seven cute and cheap date ideas that you might want to consider, according to Daily.
1. Tastes like Romance with a Hint of Currant
Do a tour and tasting at a local winery or brewery. Most wineries have elegant tasting rooms, and beautiful grounds, not to mention cheap or free wine. It’s educational, and your refreshments are usually free or quite inexpensive. Plus, many wineries and breweries offer free appetizers at certain times of day. Call ahead so that you can time your date for the biggest score.
2. Volunteer Date
It’s the ultimate in cheap dates, and yet, it might be the best date you’ve ever had. Head down to your local shelter or soup kitchen to serve those less fortunate. Spending the night helping others will make you and your date feel connected to the world and each other – and give you a buzz that even a bottle of Veuve Clicquot can’t beat. Volunteers usually eat free.
3. Just Desserts
The swankiest restaurants in town don’t just have double-digit menus and a snooty maitre d’. They often have fabulous views of the city lights, romantic water views and a great atmosphere as well. Why blow your rent money for an elegant night out? Instead of going for broke on starters, wine, salad, main course and the works, stop by later and split a sumptuous dessert with a couple of coffees. You’ll both love the view and the check.
4. Rooftop Picnic
Every woman on the planet has seen a romantic movie where the guy surprises his wife or girlfriend up on the rooftop of his apartment building, complete with fairy lights, a violin player and a seven course meal for two, yet most women have never experienced such a romantic gesture.
Borrow out a card table, tablecloth and cloth napkins if you need to, light some candles and put something romantic on the iPod. Don’t forget real plates and real silverware. With all that dreamy atmosphere going for you, even sharing some cheap take-out Chinese food will seem like one of the most romantic dates you’ve ever had.
A word to the wise: don’t go nuts with the candles – a few will do the trick. You don’t want your date hanging out on the other side of the fire door for 35 minutes while you try to speed-light 437 candles. Two or three on the table, maybe five or six on the ledge. Any more, and your date may go up in smoke.
5. High School Musical
Check out the offerings of local high school, college, and community theater productions. Most high schools have a production every quarter, and the talent can be surprisingly good. Besides, tickets are cheap and the snacks are a bargain. And, if your nephew happens to be in the show, you’ll win some extra bonus points for being a nice guy.
6. Friday Night Lights
How long has it been since you’ve been to a high school basketball, lacrosse, or football game? The crowd is as enthusiastic as in any professional stadium, and most of the players are still in it for the love of the game. Pick a team, any team, and cheer your hearts out.
7. Parallel Parking
Cost: Free (entertainment), $10-20 for dinner
Most cities have free festivals, concerts, and even outdoor film screenings in and around area parks. Pack a cozy blanket, a picnic dinner, an inexpensive bottle of wine and snuggle up for some cultured fun, free of charge. Check your local paper for upcoming events, and get there early to stake out a good spot on the lawn.
What are some of your fun date night ideas that don’t break the bank?