The Cheap Date and 15 Ways to Have Fun Ones (without feeling like a cheapskate)

10 years ago

Since I’ve spent the past week watching the stock market plummet and looking for a place for me and the boyfriend to move into, I have money on the brain. And it occurred to me that just because we were all worried the banks might fail (what do you think?), that didn’t mean people were going to stop going out, dating, or meeting strangers for coffee—it just meant that there was a greater need for things to do that wouldn’t cost as much money.

Hence, this guide. While typically it’s the man who pays for those early first dates (or seems like a total cad if he doesn’t), few women I know want to have the guy pay all the time when they’re in the early stages. Once the relationship is ongoing, finding things to do that are fun but affordable is even more important, since you’re probably paying some of the time. That said, here are some ways to spend time together that shouldn’t break the bank.

1. Take a hike. Walking and talking while looking at nature is something most people enjoy; make it a habit to seek out interesting local hikes and walks and do them together. Every city has areas you can get to, often on public transportation, that are both beautiful and easy enough for people preferred method of going up a mountain would be to be carried by a Sherpa. In New York, the Palisades are memorable; in San Francisco, it’s that walk north past Chrissie Field up to the Golden Gate; In Columbus, Ohio, it’s the footpaths along the Olentangy.

2. Cook a meal with a movie. Turn food preparation into a fun activity. Even if your usual routine is to stick a frozen dinner in the microwave, there’s no reason picking out something to make and then enjoy can’t be a pleasure. Go easy and make Croque Monsieurs, French-style sandwiches that involve eggs, ham, cheese, and butter, then settle in front of the TV with a great rented action flick or a drama like Minority Report.

3. Crash a scene. Maybe you don’t want to be a swing dancer, your passion for slam poetry abated once you passed 30, and those pagan full moon ceremonies your former roommate practiced left you cold, but scene-surfing is a great way to try new things and see if doing them together makes them better. Meetup and offer invaluable access into low cost events and communities, take advantage.

4. Savor weekend wine tastings. The cost of a good bottle of wine at a restaurant can be steep, but doing a tasting at a local wine shop or distributor is often fun and affordable. Many wine shops have weekend scheduled events, where, for $10-$15, you can listen to a brief talk from a winemaker or importer/distributor, then sample the wines. Comparing notes on what you each liked and why is fun, and if you’re really close, you can save even more money by sharing just one flight.

5. Watch a high school or college football game. A small one. Tickets for Stanford games can be a big deal, but watching the play between less accomplished schools—or the early games in a Big School series before demand goes up—is amazingly fun and affordable, and sometimes free. And the athletes are just as passionate—they just don’t throw as far.

6. Visit a museum or arboretum, yep, on the free day. We all love having those museums and other bastions of culture nearby, but how often do you go there? Yep, that’s what I thought. Plan a visit to your local arts center or great museum on a night when it’s free and have a snack in the café if there’s time. Make it an occasion to people watch as well as experience the art.

7. Borrow a great car and go for a drive. One of my friends has a friend who belongs to a car club; once a year her buddy arranges that she and her husband can take a Maserati or some other collector car out for the day (she’s the speed demon, but she lets hubby drive). If you don’t have a friend with access to lots of vehicles, consider whether you have a friend who will swap your heap for her Miata for the afternoon; if the top goes down, so much the better.

8. Read the Kama Sutra, the Joy of Sex, or the Good Vibrations web site and talk about, then act out, the stuff you like. (That's right people, sex is freeee!) If you’re adventurous, google “pervertables” and learn about the interesting uses to which people put their kitchen equipment.

9. Borrow a dog or a kid and play for a while, then give’ em back. On a lovely fall day, taking a kid to the park and going on the swings, or throwing a ball to an eager Labrador can be sheer bliss—especially since you know you can return the little darling to her owner/parent as soon as you’ve had enough. Of course, if you’re really mushy, this can spur chats on “We could have one of these ourselves someday…” Or not.

10. Hear free music or go to free theatre. While there are lots of clubs with weekend covers, there are others let pay the musicians as a way to bring in business. And bigger cities have tons of student performances(college orchestras and chamber groups come to mind) that cost next to nothing. Ditto for student theatre, where a ticket can be less than a sandwich.

So, BlogHers, what are your cheap date tricks? Share here, please.

First dates, second dates and then some--blogs to read

Stacy J Warner

Stacy is blogging for a college writing course, but her posts onb pychics, true love and dating services make for a juicy read. "I’ve always thought a movie is a strange first date. It doesn’t leave much time to get to know one another and everyone has their own moving going rituals from where they sit to if they share popcorn. A movie is a third or fourth date but I didn’t think sparks were going to fly so on this occasion I didn’t mind.”

Annie Sprouts her views on the world: Dating’s a bitch, ain’t it?

"Guy walks up and starts complaining. Just a drag. Then tells me about how he likes to beat up on those who work for him (he's a chef), how he no longer drinks after his twenties (and he's happy to tell me all about it), how he can't stand most people, how he's a control freak, how he works 6 days a week and always brings the stress home with him and that will never change. He also said, "wow, I thought you would be more dressed up at work."

The new new plan: a chronicle of my fresh start: first date

“As we walked along, I told him that I had been so nervous all day. He had been too. There was immediate, unmistakable chemistry between us.”


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