You don't have to go broke to have an active dating life. By applying a little creativity and some rule-breaking, not only can you save some serious cash in the dating playground, you can also have more interesting dating experiences. From learning the tricks of how to look fabulous on the cheap to a few inventive no-cost date ideas, check out our date great on a budget guide -- because a fabulous date with little money spent is always priceless.
Shop your friends' closets
To look your hottest without going broke, swap cute tops, adorable dresses, killer shoes and ooh-la-la accessories with your besties. Although the goods aren't technically new, they will be new to you -- and certainly to your dates, too. Also, consider keeping a dating wardrobe log. Write down what you wear, with whom and where you go. This way you can recycle favorite outfits without fear of repeat.
Groom at home
An easy way to save a bundle is by handling basic maintenance such as eyebrow waxing, mani/pedis, bang trims and even basic highlights at home. Consider hosting a pre-date party with your girls, second-grade-slumber-party style, and give each other makeovers.
Avoid extraneous costs
Dating can come with a lot of superfluous costs. By skipping valet parking, that last drink that never gets finished, dessert that just makes you feel guilty later on anyway, bars with cover charges and so on, you can pocket some serious cash to put towards future dates. Focus on being with each other more than unnecessary amenities.
Splitting dishes, be it the appetizer, main course or a sinful dessert is not only cost effective it has other benefits, as well. A couple can get to know each other's tastes and discover how they work together through deciding what to order. Plus, eating off the same plate requires an intimacy that can be a highly sensual experience.
Dial down your idea a notch
Cocktail conversation? Opt for coffee conversation. Dinner date? Tantalize your sweet tooth instead with a dessert date. Pro sports game? Cheer on a minor-league or your old high school team instead. Movie night? Try a matinee or a second-run theater. You get to have all the fun for half the price, with a simple modification.
Cash in on free events
Indulge at a variety of events for free by checking out your local paper. From free museum or zoo nights to complimentary wine, chocolate and cake tastings, as well as street festivals and farmer's markets that are open to the public, there is no shortage of no-cost adventures to be had.
Hit up happy hours
Half the price and just as nice, happy hours usually offer specials like two-for-one drinks and half-priced appetizers on weekdays from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Cook at home, but with a twist
Meet your date in a bookstore cooking section. Mull through cookbooks until you find something delectable to cook for dinner. Shop for necessary ingredients and then together, create a culinary masterpiece!
Explore the wonders of nature around you by taking an explorer's walk to trace shadows and collect interesting finds, hike in a nearby forest and stop for a picnic, bike ride through an undiscovered part of your city or lie in a sentimental field and gaze at the stars over a bottle of vino… all low in cost but high in delight.
Both you and your date should select your favorite childhood activity… swinging on the swings, playing Monopoly, making a mess with fingerpaints, having a pillow fight and so on. Do each other's activities and while doing so, share stories of what you were like as a kid -- also nibble on your favorite childhood treats.
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