Let’s be honest. Who wants to look like a tightwad when you’re trying to make an impression at the start of a relationship—especially when you’re not sure if it’ll progress beyond the first date? However, spending wads of cash while trying to impress your date can leave you penniless in a hurry. Using coupons for dinner the first date is tacky, so what do you do?
Don’t worry, I got your back. Here are some ways to save money on dates, while still keeping it classy.
• Why not try a coffee house for lunch or dinner? Alternatively, even breakfast for that matter. Some tasty coffee and baked goods (some coffee houses even serve small sandwiches) can be filled, but for a much smaller tab. It is also a great casual environment for flowing conversation and easing first date anxiety. Keep an eye out for coffee houses that have small local bands playing for tips (for some free entertainment).
• One way to instantly add a touch of class to the date is to attend a live theater production. It may cost as much as going into the movie theater, but is much less cookie-cutter and will be a more memorable date as well as much more impressive. It does not have to be a professional event—you may not have to dress as fancy, but a community, college, or even high school production is cheaper than a professional one, and can be quite enjoyable.
• Go for a walk—with a purpose. Wandering around aimlessly or in circles can become tedious, but if you’re walking with a destination or purpose in mind, it can be a great way to break things up halfway. Walk to the ice cream shop, and enjoy your treats on the walk back. Go through a fun part of town to an outlook where you can have a picnic. Walk to the museum or zoo if they are close enough. Take a photography tour while walking with a couple of disposable cameras. Strike wacky poses for each other and makes a game of taking pictures of all the red things you see, or everything in a circle shape. Get the film developed while you grab a bite to eat and then compare pictures.!
• The same idea works for small hikes. Hiking is much more enjoyable when you are working your way to a destination, such as a waterfall, an underground cave for swimming, etc. Having something to walk to, rather than just walking, creates more opportunities for the date to be remembered. And walking is free!
• Make dinner together! Visit a pick-your-own farm (many only charge a small entrance fee, or by what produce you pick), then go back to your place and cook a meal together using your fresh produce. It’s a great way to get a delicious home-cooked meal, and gives you something to do while talking and getting to know one another. You could even rent a movie and watch it while you eat your dinner. It is certainly better (and cheaper) than the expected dinner-and-movie.!
• Are you both a fan of sports? Minor-league games cost much less than professional games, and are just as fun. Community games and school games are usually just a nominal fee and are a great way to show your support for the community. If you want a little humor, go watch an elementary school aged sports game. Watching a 5-year-old outfielder chase butterfly instead of catch the ball can give you a few laughs!
• Consider purchasing some annual passes to different local attractions, such as museums, galleries, zoos, or gardens. They might be pricey up front, but remember it isn’t a one-night price. You’re buying a whole year of quality dates you can be proud of.
A couple dates with your annual passes, throw in a walk-with-a-purpose, a make-your-own-dinner, and a sporting event and theater production, and you easily have 4-6 weeks of dates lined up. Plenty of time to find out if you want to take your relationship to the level of—gasp—steady, exclusive dating.
Engagement – Engagement Rings
You’ve done the steady dating thing for a while now, and you want to take your relationship to the next level and propose. Of course, your sweetie-pie deserves the best, but you might not have the budget to sweep them off their feet to a Bahamas getaway, or take them to a fancy $100/plate restaurant.
No worries; I’m here for you. Here are some ideas for proposing to your honey bun while still sticking to your budget.
• TV ads, movies, books, etc. would all have you believe that you have to spend thousands on a ring to win your lover’s heart. However, what is most important is that your love likes the ring. There are no rules that say the ring has to cost thousands, or that the ring must include a diamond. If your snookum’s favorite gemstone is a Ruby or Emerald, pick a ring with that stone instead of a diamond. If you really can’t to afford a ring, or really don’t to know what exactly your sweetheart likes, propose with something else and go ring shopping together later. Guys, there are plenty of places to buy some affordable gold jewelry for women, like a necklace or bracelet, that she will love.
• Write a love letter to include with your proposal. Explain why you want to marry them, how much they mean to you, and say all the things you have always wanted to say but haven’t had the chance. Not only will the sentiment make up for any missing violinists or the 5 dozen roses you couldn’t afford, but it will give your beloved something to treasure for years to come.
• Make a homemade dinner. It might be a little expensive, but home-prepared steak is much cheaper than buying one from a restaurant, and it will be more intimate and meaningful. A few cheap candles lit around the room will set the perfect mood.
You do not have to wait to date or propose just because your budget is a little tight. There are plenty of ways to be classy and romantic on any budget—all it takes a bit of creativity.
Elizabeth Lancaster is a professional writer and self-proclaimed shopaholic, with her new favorite site being Olive Yew. She puts her skills to use helping people find the right products and services. Her favorite things to shop for are shoes, accessories, and home decor.