With all the money we spend on rent and student loans, most of us can’t afford extravagant dates. Fortunately, we don’t need to. As resourceful, creative twenty-somethings, we can come up with cheap date ideas that are just as enjoyable as a three-star dinner.
According to Match.com, singles spend an average of $61.53 on dating each month. If you live in a pricey city, it’s easy to spend even more.
Why cheap date night ideas are a smart money move
By saving with fun cheap date ideas, you can pay off debt faster and put money away for retirement. Saving for retirement is especially important in your 20s, as your money will grow exponentially over time.
Let’s say you put $100 a month away starting at the age of 25. At a growth rate of 5.7 percent year, you’ll have a savings of $16,124 when you’re 35. At 45, your savings will have ballooned to $44,597. Most people will have even more because they’ve been able to increase their monthly contribution over time.
Or, let’s take student loans. If you have $20,000 in student loans, you could pay it off in monthly installments of $219 for 10 years. In total, you’ll end up paying $6,285 in interest.
If you were able to increase your monthly payments to $384, then you could pay the loans in five years and only pay $3,032 in interest. By paying $165 more a month, you can cut the amount you pay in interest in half. Plus, you’ll be free of student loan payments five years early!
By paying attention to your dating budget, you can put your money toward other areas that will have a long-lasting effect on your quality of life. Match.com estimates that people pay $738.36 per year on dating. After five years, that adds up to over $3,600.
The next time you want to go out, try out of one of the 14 cheap date ideas. You can still make a connection while managing your money responsibly.
Fun cheap date ideas to try this year
1. Rent bicycles and explore your surroundings
Take out your bicycles or rent a couple from your city’s bike-sharing program. You can explore your neighborhood or find a pretty bike path. If you pack snacks, you can stop for a picnic along the trip.
2. Host a laid-back game night
Instead of going out for dinner and a movie, bring your date and a few friends together for a game night. Whether the game is Cards Against Humanity, Resistance, Punderdome, or good old-fashioned Clue, you can all have fun without racking up a big bill.
3. Throw on your athleisure and exercise together
Are you into running? Lifting weights? Yoga? Plan a day of exercising with your date. You could jog outside or take a free yoga class. Lots of gyms give out free day passes to potential new clients.
4. Play tourist for the day
You probably see the sights when you travel, but have you ever toured your own city? Pretend to be tourists for the day and visit noteworthy spots in your area. You might be surprised what you learn about your surroundings when you look with fresh eyes.
5. Ask each other the “36 questions that lead to love”
According to Dr. Arthur Aron, couples can ask each other 36 questions to form intimacy and pave the way to love. You’ll develop a strong relationship through “sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” You can find all 36 questions here. This isn’t the best of cheap date ideas for a first date, though. Most people will probably be scared off by intense personal questioning.
6. Head to the woods and go hiking
Throw on your hiking boots and plan a day of hiking with your date. You can get to know each other while conquering a physical challenge. If you’re both outdoorsy, then you may enjoy this activity more than sitting through a movie.
7. Go on a grown-up treasure hunt with the Geocaching app
Geocaching is a free app that takes you on a treasure hunt around your city. You use GPS to find hidden containers. When you find them, you can sign the log book and exchange trinkets. There are over two million geocaches in 185 countries around the world. Just download the app to see if there any geocaches near you. Then you and your date can start the hunt!
8. Make your own photo or Snapchat story
Get creative with your date by curating a photo or Snapchat story of your day. You can be as artsy or silly as you want, and you’ll end up with a fun collection of mementos from your wanderings. Well, the Snapchats won’t last long, but you get the idea.
9. Netflix and chill (no subtext intended)
Euphemisms aside, you and your date can binge on that Netflix show you’ve been meaning to watch. Maybe you can even get your hands on a projector to set up a home movie theater experience. Don’t forget the popcorn.
10. Browse a flea, food, or farmer’s market
Track down a bustling marketplace, and spend the day combing through antiques or sampling food. You’re bound to find some unique items and conversation starters.
11. Gather ingredients for a picnic
Instead of going out to dinner with your date, plan a picnic. Grab some groceries and a picnic blanket, pick a pretty spot to snack and get to know each other.
12. Look for free hours at a local museum
Lots of art museums offer free entrance during a certain window every week. Look around to see if any local museums offer free entrance. You can also look around for any free tours, fairs, festivals, or brewery tours going on in your city.
13. Rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboat
Do you live near a river or lake? Boat rentals tend to be cheap, and you can keep them for the whole day. Getting on the water gets you out of the ordinary without much expense.
14. Use Groupon for dinner or a show
Groupon has a discount for everything, from restaurants to pottery painting. It even offers a date night package.
Cheap date night ideas are a smart money move
These cheap date ideas aren’t just fun, they can also transform your budget. One major rule of personal finance is to spend less than you earn. On your next date, try these ideas so you can funnel your money in other directions. You’ll take control of your spending while having unforgettable experiences with your date.
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