If you’re a habitual “first dater,” you’re probably spending a lot of money on typical first date things like trendy dinners, complicated cocktails, art house movies – your typical first date expenditures. Let me be the first to say this: That sort of first-date dating is not sustainable! You’ll go broke within a month. Through experience, I’ve put together a list of perfect, cheap first dates that’ll help you save for the wedding when you finally meet the right one.
For the Athletic Types…
1. Hiking A good, brisk hike is not only free, but it gives you the chance to see your date in a relaxed setting, which honestly, is the best way to see a potential partner. This natural state is how you’ll see this person 90 percent of the time if this becomes a long-term relationship anyway. Pro tip: Bring water and healthy snacks.
2. Tandem Kayaking For around $20 an hour, you’ll get quality one-on-one time with someone in a low-key environment. It isn’t too strenuous of an activity if you two can work as a team – it’s a good test for long-term compatibility. Pro tip: Someone’s going to get wet – throw a towel in your car just in case.
3. Biking With so many cities turning to bike share programs and creating designated bicycle paths, this is a fun way to enjoy company, and see the city from a different perspective. Pro tip: Plan a pit stop on your route (like a diner, coffee shop, or bar) where the both of you can get out of the saddle and chat for a while.
For the Food Aficionados…
4. Picnic A picnic might be an old-fashioned notion, but there’s something to be said about throwing down a blanket with some great food and drink in a natural setting. Almost any beach, lake, or park will do. Pro tip: Find out beforehand if your date has any food preferences or restrictions – it’s a gluten-free world, baby.
5. Cheese and/or Wine Tasting This may give you a hint of sophistication and it’s something you can do this at home. Pro tip: I already got you started here.
6. Cook at Home While trying out trendy restaurants is fun, you can literally save hundreds of dollars by cooking at home. Just be sure to steer clear of long roasts or overly complex dishes. Pro tip: Your place better be in order if you’re hosting.
For the Nature Lovers…
7. Scenic Drive Sure, gas is expensive now, but for the cost of a few gallons, get out of the city and take a mini road trip. It doesn’t have to be anywhere amazing, just pick a destination and enjoy the scenery along the way. Pro tip: Keep the volume low on the radio (or off completely) – converse instead.
8. Arboretums and Botanical Gardens For $10 or so per person, enjoy smelling the roses while getting to know each other. Pro tip: If this gets dull, many of these places now serve wine and beer.
9. Star Gaze Unplug from the hustle and just drive to where you’re clear of all the street lights and general evening congestion. Pro tip: If you have a telescope, bring it along. If you don’t have one, make your own out of paper towel rolls.
For Arty, Bookish Types…
10. Museum The art is a perfect backdrop for getting to know someone and testing to see how open-minded they are. Pro tip: Large museums get crowded and the bigger and better exhibits require reservations – do your internet research.
11. Lecture or Book Reading This may not be the most social of choices, but these events tend to be free and will give you plenty to talk about afterwards. Pro tip: The most outlandish book readings are always the best – go to those.
For the Competitive Types…
12. Trivia Night Have a few pints at your local bar while seeing how smart your date is. You’ll spend around $20 and show off your mastery of ‘80s movie knowledge.
13. Arcade For under $10, you can playfully show your competitive side with a few games of foosball, ping pong, air hockey, or pool.
14. Board Games Whatever the vibe of your date may be, Cards Against Humanity or Monopoly, you’ll save plenty, and have fun as well.
Pro tip for 12 – 14: Competition tends to bring out the worst in us – you’re in this to get to know your potential life mate, not annihilate the person for sport. Go easy, you don’t have to win every round, (but win a few).
Photo credit: Guian Bolisay via Flickr