Simple and Enjoyable Cheap Date Ideas That Fit Your Budget

Have you gone on a date lately? You may show up to find an unwelcome chaperone – inflation!

Even before Covid, meeting someone new was getting more expensive – and many in the younger generations have even gone into debt, just to cover those courting expenses.

Now that higher inflation is in the picture, couples spend more on transportation, gas, and clothing, even before eating establishments hiked food and liquor prices. No doubt, a return to in-person dating was welcome, but higher prices at bars, restaurants, and venues are a turn-off.

Average Date Night Expenses

According to a Zoosk survey, the average cost of a date in the US was $97.68 and varied significantly from the most expensive to the least expensive state.

Five Most Expensive Date Costs by State

  1. New York City, New York: $150
  2. Honolulu, Hawaii $130.50
  3. Boston, Massachusetts: $126.00
  4. Seattle, Washington: $122.00
  5. Los Angeles, California: $121.00

Five Cheapest Date Costs by State

  1. Des Moines, Iowa: $72.00
  2. Charleston, West Virginia: $74.00
  3. Sioux Falls, South Dakota: $75.00
  4. Oklahoma City, West Virginia: $77.50
  5. Cheyenne, Wyoming: $78.00

Unless you're willing to move to Iowa for low-cost dating, you'll need to switch from conventional outings or pay through the nose to meet people.

There is an urgency to please your partner when you are in the early stages of your relationship. Who wouldn't want to go to the five-star restaurant if you're lucky enough to get a table reservation? However, that may not be the most viable benchmark for future dates, and you may disappoint your significant other as you're forced to plan more down-to-earth places to go for future dates.

Dating Is Disruptive to Your Budget

A recent study discovered more about the current dating landscape. According to the latest LendingTree survey of Millennials and Gen Zers:

  • More money would ease dating, according to 77% of daters. This view is more common among men (83%) than women (73%). Still, about a third will go on a date despite being unaffordable. Men (36%) are more likely to continue on the date than women (30%).
  • Millennials (22%) will be more likely to rely on debt to pay for their dating spending habits. That means borrowing, especially on expensive credit cards, likely to be more costly with high-interest rates.
  • Among those dating, almost 1 in 5 (19%) will go on fewer dates due to inflation, while an additional 14% will reduce spending.
  •  54% of men still believe that their gender should pay for the first date. This contrasts with 26% of women who say the couple should split date costs. Gen Zers differ, saying either the person who initiates the first date should pay (34%), or they should split the expenses (32%).
  • 12% of Americans never want to know how much their partner makes. About a third (34%) of consumers want to know their partner's income amount when they're in a committed relationship, and 26% prefer to do so beforehand.

With creativity, you can have the best first date with fun and unique experiences that fit a tight budget, without spending much money.

The key is to look for date ideas that have plenty of value, but cost less money. You don't have to go to four and five-star restaurants to impress your friends. You can find ways to save more money and fit a tight budget despite high inflation.

Cheap Date Ideas

Dating is about getting to know the other, snagging subsequent dates, and forming a relationship. You can have a good time without spending outrageous prices.

These ideas are not just for young people in the early stage of their relationship. Those who have been together for years can energize their partnership with different experiences. You can start anywhere, from your comfort zone to something more daring.

Take Advantage of Nature

Do you enjoy taking rides and exploring natural beauty? Pack your car with sweaters, wine, and veggies or cheese to eat along the way. Find a fall foliage map for your region of the country that will guide you to where to find the vivid shades that appear on trees ranging from yellowish gold, orange, and crimson red. Drive to a park and walk the falling leaves that sound lovely as you step through them gingerly.

Look for nature trails along rivers or ponds, or discover public arboretums and botanical gardens in your area. They are ideal places to spend a day and start a romance. Nighttime is a great time to find stars on a clear night.

Urban Delights

You may enjoy people-watching in parks, streets, and stores if you are more of an urbanite. Go window shopping down Fifth Avenue in New York City, walk boardwalks, gaze at beautiful views from hotel rooftops or skyscrapers, and walk to museums that interest you. Make sure to grab a hot chocolate with luscious marshmallows. Sharing your favorite places in your town is an easy way to learn about each other casually.

Plan a Meal Together

Rather than going to a restaurant, consider planning a meal, making pizza, or baking a pie. Come up with a budget you can work with and split the costs. It doesn't have to be a complicated meal, and it is probably better if it is something easy and fun to do together.

Go grocery shopping or head to the farmer's market to pick up vegetables, fruit, or anything you need for your culinary delight. Your event will likely be cheaper than going out to dinner and an excellent way to get to know each other.

A Quiet Night at Home Playing Board Games and Puzzles

You may want to order pizza and have a cozy night playing your favorite card or board games. Look to the classics: UNO, Checkers, Chess, Yahtzee, Risk, Scrabble, and Monopoly. It's a great way to test out your competitive nature and temperament.

Alternatively, have a puzzle date night, starting with small puzzles until you can master building a 1,000-piece puzzle.

If you both love building bricks, try out one of the larger LEGO sets. Combine cooking and building on the same evening for an excellent night together.

Indoor and Outdoor Adventures

Find adventures you both want to try, from going up in an air balloon, Go Kart racing, bouldering, or taking an open cockpit biplane ride.

You may decide on something more sedate or indoors, like bowling, rollerskating, taking a ferry or train to different locations, hiking, flying a kite, or paintballing. Go to antiquing, flea markets, or junkyards to find treasures.

Enjoy Engaging Activities

Depending on your interests, there are many fun and engaging activities. If you love to read books, browse through a bookshop and find a book to read to each other or go to literary landmarks near you like a favorite author's home.

Consider pottery-making or painting if you want to exercise your creativity. Go to a karaoke bar, and sing together. Love animals? Volunteer at an animal shelter to walk and play with them for the day. Who knows. You may end up taking another loved one home.

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This article was produced by The Cents of Money and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.


The cents of money is about financial education, here to teach and inspire you about money, seek new ideas, and to create greater comfort in your world about one of life’s great stresses. Linda wants to use her financial skills honed by her professional experience to help others.