Keepin’ It Cheap and Fun: How to Do a Date on a Budget

Doing a date night on a budget doesn’t mean you won’t have a great time.

In fact, Nicole and I love setting a budget because it sparks creativity. You tend to find good ideas for a date night when you can’t just throw everything on a credit card (you’ve been neglecting).

A low budget date can still include food and entertainment if you’re willing to get thrifty. And, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck doing a cheap date night at home, either.

Today, I share how to do cheap date (that’s actually really, really fun).

This is up to you on what type of food you like (and your budget). But, we’ve got a couple of places that’ll make it really cheap when eating out on your date:

  • Street food
  • Food trucks
  • Lunch specials
  • Ice cream
  • Pizza-by-the-slice
  • Buffets
  • Bodegas

We’ve got this bodega that does mounds of food for $5 a plate. It’s great.

You can usually keep the meal cheap if you avoid the expensive drinks. Or, just changing up when you go because lunch specials (with coupons) are way more budget-friendly than going at peak dinner time.

You should also pay attention to the gratuity (like if it’s included or not) so it doesn’t creep up on you.

Here are some resources for eating out on the cheap:

You might be able to do a date night on a budget by turning it into a double date. Some places will give bigger discounts for larger parties. Plus, depending on where you’re eating, you could easily split a bunch of smaller bites versus each ordering a single, big meal.

Try an izakaya, for example.

Okay, so where do you go for this budget date night? That’s the hard one because every place wants to charge, and this adds up fast if you’re bouncing between places.

I always think of that one part in Half Baked where Dave Chapelle’s character goes on a date for $8.

This one:

Well, you don’t need to push it like that but that’s generally the idea haha.

Consider these some options:

  • Go for a hike and setup a picnic
  • Head over to the beach and do a beach bar
  • Go downtown and grab some street food
  • Look for local plays and outdoor theaters
  • Swing by the flea market or a community yard sale
  • Volunteer at a local charity or pet shelter
  • Check out a barcade and do a game night
  • Head out on the paths by biking
  • Take a stroll through Ikea or open houses
  • Snag cheap (or free) tickets to a comedy show
  • Use a good promo deal for mini golf
  • Check out the vineyards and do wine tasting
  • Visit a museum or a local art show
  • Head over to your local sports park
  • Get in some exercise at a gym or do a jog
  • Hit up the billiards and darts at a dive bar
  • Check local listings for free outdoor concerts
  • Catch a flick with those free movies on the lawn

Think back to those days when you were just getting into dating.

You were young, you had to stretch whatever money you had. You still had a great time – because there were some restrictions, so you made the most of your outing! You did stuff that made great memories.

Now, obviously these will change whether you’re doing a summer date or if it’s during the winter. You also gotta factor the low and high seasons in your town/city. But overall, a lot of these places are super cheap if you spend a bit of time doing your research.

A great portal for this is through Facebook, honestly. You can find a lot of free events listed there like community get-togethers, meetups, and the like. Or, use something like TripAdvisor or your local Reddit to ask around or find some good advice for inexpensive date ideas.

Our typical, cheap date night goes a little something like this:

  • We budget the outing – We start off by setting a budget for the evening. This is usually around $40 on the high side which should give us enough for food and a bit of entertainment. Sometimes we can stretch $20, but the $40 seems to be the sweet spot.
  • We do a big meal at home – Eating out will turn your budget date night into an expensive one real fast. It’s kind of like going to the grocery store on an empty stomach. So, what we do is try to eat a late lunch on the days we have planned for date night this way we tend to stick to smaller meals, appetizers, or quick bites when we’re out.
  • We pick an off-day – Going out on Fri, Sat, or Sun usually means you’re spending more money. So, we try to do our cheap date nights around Tuesday or Wednesday because these are often “industry” nights. This means you get a lot of great deals on food and entry into events and locations.

That sort of sets up the scenario…

This is how we like getting creative with the date:

We live close to about 3-4 thrift stores (we love thrifting) so usually we’ll drop in to look around. Nicole will usually gravitate to the clothes while I look at electronics and movies. We’ll set a small budget for the thrift store but also a challenge seeing who can find something fun and crafty we can try later.

After the thrift store, we’ll head off to where we wanted to eat. This is where Groupon comes into play with meals since we can find good deals + it’ll be local cuisine. We like going to hole-in-the-wall places that don’t get a lot of foot traffic – which usually have way lower prices vs the chain restaurants.

Once we’re done eating, we’ll usually do something pretty low-key and cheap. This could be just going to one of the parks around the area. Or, we’ll head downtown to people watch, grab some street food, and mingle with friends if they’re coming out.

When the night is winding down, we’ll head back home and look through what we got earlier at the thrift store. We’ll dig out our art supplies and get into a neat project. We’ll put on music or a movie in the background, and just have fun with what we’ve got.

We shared a couple ideas for budget-friendly date nights. Also shared an example of one of our typical outings. But… what about you?

Got any good ideas for a cheap date? Leave a suggestion on where to eat, where to go, and what to do in the comments below!

Doing a date night on a budget doesn’t mean you won’t have a great time. In fact, Nicole and I love setting a budget because it sparks creativity. You tend to find good ideas for a date night when you can’t just throw everything on a credit card (you’ve been neglecting). A low budget date…