Dating doesn’t have to be expensive. To impress your significant other, you must be thoughtful, not spendy. Get creative with these nine inspiring cheap dates that are sure to charm your partner without stressing the budget.
1. Explore your city.
Live like a tourist for a day, and join free walking tours, informational presentations, and welcome activities either in your city or take a road trip to a nearby town. While the programs are geared toward tourists, it’s the locals who can best appreciate regional quirks.
2. Take an art class.
Professional art classes cost a fortune, but if you find a free one online, then the only cost is art supplies.
3. Go glamping
Purposely overpack for a camping trip, and hit the road. Pitch a tent, but deck it out with battery-operated music, ambient solar-powered lights, rugs, and fluffy bedding. Hang a thrift store chandelier from a tree branch for extra charm.
4. Volunteer together
Choose a behind-the-scenes volunteer opportunity. Pack care boxes for soldiers, drive to deliver goods long-distance, or sort used clothing at a donation center. When you work shoulder-to-shoulder, you’ll enjoy more space for organic conversation than you will if you force topics over an expensive dinner table.
5. Movie marathon.
Take advantage of a free trial to stream an entire TV series (or two) together. Or, choose a theme and rent a few movies about that one subject. Pop popcorn and spend an entire evening on the couch together.
6. Float your nearby lazy river.
Join a guided excursion first, and once you get the hang of drop points and free parking spots, strike out on your own to float the same shallow stretch every time you and your significant other need a date. Just remember to read up on river safety from the National Park Service before heading out.
7. Dream about the future.
Get dressed up, stroll through a fancy real estate open house, or test drive your dream car. For the most memorable cheap dates, do all the above!
8. Fancy dinner.
Just because you don’t want to spend a fortune doesn’t mean you can’t still eat well. Practice a recipe you’d find at a fancy restaurant and tell your significant other you have “reservations” for a certain night. Then, recreate your masterpiece recipe and serve it at home with a tapered candle and a free French Cooking Music Playlist.
9. Bust boredom with board games.
You can learn a lot about someone—even if you’ve known them for years—by playing board games. Every yard sale has a stack of classics, so grab a few and enjoy a game night. Scattergories, Monopoly, and Clue are all great games to expose just how your partner’s mind works.
Try all these cheap dates—you’ll find you love a few of the ideas more than others. Choose your favorite, and enjoy it regularly. Once you’ve made it your own, invite another couple to join you for double-dates. This way, you’ll multiply the savings and motivate each other to stay on budget.