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Cheap Date Ideas When Saving Money is Your Priority

By Lindsay VanSomeren
December 19, 2018

When you’re trying to funnel more money into your savings account, one thing’s for sure: A lot of cheap date ideas start to sound pretty lame. After all, good ol’ Netflix is only good for so many nights.

So, how are you supposed to get your romance on without appearing a little too much like Tramp from the Disney movie Lady and the Tramp? Fear not. We’ve got you covered.

Here are 16 fun and cheap date ideas that will help you hang onto your cash and your love interest.

1. Volunteer at an Animal Shelter

If you’re an animal lover, it’s important that your partner likes furry friends too. So, why not see how he or she fares with animals by volunteering at a shelter together?


Some animal shelters require a small fee to pay for things like a background check or T-shirt. Other shelters, however, have no volunteer fees whatsoever. To find a rescue or shelter to volunteer at, research local organizations or call your city pound to ask about area shelters.

Cheap Dates Tips

Wrap up your volunteer experience with a cheap meal or snack (like ice cream). Take lots of pics and share them with each other, the shelter and perhaps on social media.

2. Thrift Store Dress Up

Another fun idea is to visit a thrift shop or flea market to see what hidden treasures you can find. It’s a good way to suss out your partner’s tastes to see if they match yours. For example, if you don’t give two hoots about sports, it may be a problem if your partner wants to paper the walls with old sports posters found at a thrift store.


You can spend as much or as little as you want. Try to set a budget before you go, however, so you don’t get caught up in mindless spending.

Cheap Dates Tips

Try this fun game: Play dress up. Disperse in the store and find the most ridiculous garb you can imagine for your partner, trade outfits, and then both get dressed up for an epic Instagram-worthy photo shoot. You don’t have to buy the clothes to try on silly combinations of outfits!

3. Rent a Human-Powered Vehicle and Go For a Ride

How about a nice serene bike ride along a scenic path? Or a kayak paddle down a river on a hot day?


If you already have bikes, all you have to pay for is the transportation to get to your starting point. Many places will rent kayaks by the hour for $25 or so. If you don’t have bikes, find out if your city has a bike share service. You can usually rent bikes by the hour or less on the cheap.

Cheap Dates Tips

Scope out deal sites like Groupon for some cheap kayak or bike rental deals in your area or within a reasonable driving distance.

4. Board Game Night

If you’re a game nut, you’ll definitely want to make sure your partner likes board games too.


If you already have the games, it won’t cost you anything (and we bet you already do have some games you love).

Cheap Dates Tips

Check out geek-themed coffee shops, microbreweries, and other cafes in your area. Many of these places have a small area set aside for board games, so you can try new ones without having to buy them.

5. Go Geocaching

Remember how fun scavenger hunts were when you were a kid? With geocaching, you can relive that experience by finding real-life treasure caches that people have hidden all over the world (and we mean all over — there are over three million geocaches).


It’s free to get the coordinates of most geocaches. If you really get into it, you can find premium-level geocaches that you can purchase for an annual subscription.

Cheap Dates Tips

Bring a picnic with you while you’re out exploring.

6. Take a Hike

Day hikes can be a really fun way to explore a new area and get some good one-on-one conversation time with your partner. Just make sure to choose a trail that you’re both comfortable with!


The only thing you really need to pay for is the gas to get to the trailhead. If you’ll be hiking straight through (i.e., not out-and-back or in a loop), you’ll need to drive two cars and drop one off at the end of the trail so you have a way to get back.

Cheap Dates Tips

You can scope out the details of all kinds of trails for free on the website AllTrails. The site does have a premium membership for $2.50 per month or a $99 one-time-only payment, but the basic features are free.

7. Take a Class

Learning new skills is hella fun, especially when you can try it out with a partner. Try taking a cooking class, a dance or yoga class, or even for grins and giggles, how about a knitting class?


You can probably expect to spend $10-$30 on a class (or more, depending on the type).

Cheap Dates Tips

You can often find cheap classes for sale on Groupon. Libraries and your town’s event calendar are also underutilized places to find free (or cheap) classes.

8. Take a Walking Tour

Unless you’re an extreme history buff, chances are there’s a lot to learn about your city. Taking a guided or unguided walking tour can be a great way to be a tourist for a day in your own hometown.


Many cities offer free guided walking tours, although it’s generally expected that you’ll tip the guides at the end.

Cheap Dates Tips

Check with your city’s historical society, chamber of commerce, or library to see if an organization offers a free DIY printable walking tour of your city.

9. Start a Two-Person Book Club

Book clubs can be great fun, especially if you’re both reading nerds. Unfortunately for introverts, book clubs usually involve lots of people — unless you start up a two-person book club.


You can spend as much or as little on books as you both want.

Cheap Dates Tips

To start, both of you can create a want-to-read book list (Goodreads is a great resource.) Then, compare notes, and check out one book per month from your local library. Read it, then meet up and discuss (preferably over a bottle of cheap wine.)

10. Go to a Protest Together

Protests are becoming about as commonplace as car washes these days. But what better way to step outside your own lives than by visibly supporting issues that you both care about? Just make sure you’re on the same side first!


Protests are free to attend. The more, the merrier (or scarier)!

Cheap Dates Tips

Try taking public transportation to the protest site. If it’s a big enough protest, you won’t be able to get very close with your car.

11. Brew Beer

If you’re both serious craft beer nuts, why not try brewing a batch of beer together? Pro tip: This gives you more chances for follow-up dates, since homebrewing is typically spaced out by at least three days over the course of several weeks.


A beginner-level homebrewing kit costs around $150 to get started. It sounds like a lot of money, but if you use it over time, you can brew beer for a fraction of the cost of store-bought craft brews.

Cheap Dates Tips

Cook a nice dinner while you’re at it.

12. Try Cooking Something New

No, I’m not talking about making a different kind of taco (although that’s OK too.) Instead, try cooking an entirely new meal, such as homemade pasta, gourmet pizza, authentic stir fry, etc.


Most staple food ingredients are pretty cheap (think eggs, water, and flour for pasta, for example). You can also go as fancy as you want, of course — after all, store-bought crab legs are way cheaper than seafood at a restaurant.

Cheap Dates Tips

Watch YouTube videos for free tutorials on how to cook your meal.

13. Learn a New Accent

Learning a new language takes hours of work and often lots of money. But if you already know English, why not have some fun perfecting different accents, like an actor might?


There are tons of free YouTube videos available to teach you how to speak in different accents. Australian? Irish? British? The (English-speaking) world is your oyster.

Cheap Dates Tips

Buy a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s or cheap boxed wine. It’ll help loosen your tongue and make it even more hilarious.

14. Go On a Brewery or Winery Tour

Craft beer and wine might not come cheap, but do you know what is? Tours and tastings at the places that make the stuff.


Many breweries and wineries offer free tours and tastings. Other ones charge a nominal fee.

Cheap Dates Tips

At super-popular places like California’s Sonoma County, you can often buy a passport for a reduced price that gets you into top wineries.

15. Go to Pub Trivia

Dinner is one thing, but dinner and a show that you participate in while testing your wits? It’s the perfect place for a great date night.


Many bars and restaurants offer trivia night for free. If there is a price, it’s usually cheap.

Cheap Dates Tips

Look into local pizza joints, especially if you live in a college town. One pizza pie and two beers is a very cost-effective date night, especially if trivia is a part of the game.

16. Try Stargazing

What’s more romantic than gazing at the stars with your partner? See if you can take turns picking out constellations, or make a plan for a night when there’s a cool nighttime phenomenon, like a meteor shower or a visible aurora.


Totally free.

Cheap Dates Tips

Download a stargazing app on your phone and head out to an open area with a couple of warm blankets and a bottle of wine to share.

You Don’t Have to Spend a Lot to Have a Good Date

Did you know the average cost of a standard dinner-and-a-movie date night was just over $100, according to a 2018 survey? Obviously this can get very expensive after a while. And the last thing you want to be doing on your date is checking your mobile banking app to make sure you’ve got enough cash to pay for the date. That’s a huge buzzkill.

Instead, refer to these 16 cheap date ideas. And remember: The best cheap dates are only limited by your imagination. It’s time to turn on your creative juices and impress your partner while watching your savings grow!

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