Dating on the Cheap: 15 Ways to Save Money and Have Fun

cheap_summer_dates_kayakingWhether you’ve just met the guy of your dreams or you’ve been in love with your BF for years, dating is fun and a great way to spend time with the one who makes your heart flutter. But let’s be real: we’re in college and strapped for cash. Luckily, hanging out together doesn’t have to drain your wallet. There are lots of fun activities to do with your sweetie without spending lots of green:

1. Take a bike ride together. Pack a picnic and hit a bike trail with your honey. Peddle your way to a nearby attraction — like a park or beach — or just enjoy scooting around town. Take a break to eat…and steal some trailside kisses.

2. Hit some balls at the batting cages! You don’t have to be Babe Ruth to make bat-to-ball contact — batting cages are fun for everyone. If you’re clueless about baseball, it’s a good excuse to ask your date for some help…which usually leads to some close contact.

3. Get wet and wild. Summer is H-O-T, so what better time to hit the water with your beau? Go to your local pool, hit up the beach, or set up a sprinkler or slip-and-slide in your own backyard!

4. Browse some books. Grab some iced coffee and set up camp a bookstore or local library. Browse the books together, pick out interesting or silly reads, or share passages with one another. Bonus points to the one who can stifle their laughter as you read trashy romance novels aloud.

5. Get cultured at museums and art galleries. Many offer free days or discounts for students. Escape the heat or summer rain with a date at a local museum or by attending an event at an art gallery.

6. Work your muscles. Playing sports and exercising together is free! Go for a run together, shoot some hoops, or head to your college’s gym for a workout.

7. Go to a drive-in movie! Drive-in theaters are usually less expensive than the Cineplex and make for a unique and romantic setting. Bonus: You can pack your own snacks to save cash.

8. Volunteer together. Do some good on your date – volunteer at an animal shelter, work with Habitat for Humanity, or help with Special Olympics. The options are endless! Volunteering can be fun (check out University Chic’s picks for places to volunteer) and rewarding.

9. Tour a brewery or winery. Looking for a mini roadtrip? Visit a picturesque winery for a free or stop by a local brewery. Tours are usually free, and sometimes include a free beverage at the end! People under 21 can usually go on brewery tours too, but (sadly) they don’t get to sample the goods.

10. Go to an outdoor concert or art fair. In the summertime, you can usually find free outdoor concerts, especially in big cities or at fairs and festivals. Bond over a mutual favorite, or take a liesurely stroll and check out a some cool crafts.

11. Play some games. They’re not just for kids! Go to an arcade and challenge each other to some friendly competition. Or have a game night at your place with your favorite board (video game rentals are pretty cheap as well).

12. Cheer on your favorite minor league baseball team. Tickets for a major league baseball game can be pricey (not to mention the super-expensive food and drinks) but minor league games are a different story. Tickets are usually pretty cheap and the food tends to be cheap compared to a big ballpark. Batter up!

13. Get crafty together. Try tie-dying white cotton shirts or making a cool collage for each of your dorm rooms. You can talk and laugh together as you fasten your designs AND search for inspiration via old photos, ticket stubs, and mementos.

14. Make dinner together and have a TV marathon. Dinner and TV doesn’t sound like the sexiest date, but it can be very fun if you’re looking for a little down time. Stop by the video store and pick up the first season of a show you’ve both been dying to watch (Mad Men anyone?) then kick on the barebecue and let the good times roll!

15. Plan a day of paddling. Looking for some cheap fun in the sun? Most big cities that have river or ocean access have canoe, kayak, and paddleboat rentals available for less than $20 bucks. Pack a lunch, grabs some drinks, and hit the water. It’s a great way to get some excercise AND get to know each other on the cheap!

— By Ali Straka, University of Missouri

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