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16 Cheap Date Ideas That Don't Break the Bank

Inexpensive date ideas for when you’re on a budget but still want to woo your partner

Coming up with cheap date ideas can be tricky, but with a little imagination, there are plenty of ways you can spend time with your partner — without spending (too much) money. 

While we’d all love to be able to wine and dine our partners with fancy dinners and extravagant trips, most of us can’t splash the cash like that. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bond with your partner and find new, exciting ways to have fun together. 

While there's nothing wrong with ordering a pizza and browsing your favorite streaming service, it's not exactly an exciting date idea. So if you’re strapped for cash, it’s time to get creative. 

Without further ado, we put together 16 fun cheap date ideas that don’t feel cheap — and aren't “Netflix and chill”.

Cheap date night ideas

1. Go for a picnic, but with a twist

Ok, so a picnic date might be a bit cliche — but you can always put a more creative spin on it. Pick a theme, like “foods that begin with the letter G”, maybe decide on a specific cuisine (Spanish tapas, for example), or each of you brings your partner’s top three favorite foods. 

Alternatively, you can each pick a color and bring five food items of that color. Picnics don’t have to be boring, or expensive. 

2. Browse a library or used bookstore

Unleash your inner bookworm and take your date to a second-hand bookstore or your local library, where you’ll find some reads on a budget. Books are great conversation starters, so this is a perfect date idea even if the relationship is still new. 

Have a browse and play a game to find each other the perfect book. You can even test how well you know your partner’s literary preferences, or surprise them with a book they would have never picked up for themselves.

Once you’ve exchanged books, reward yourselves with a job well done by finding a quiet spot to rendezvous for a quick smooch among the shelves. Bonus points if you do it in the romance aisle!

3. Have a fantasy night 

No, we’re not talking about Dungeons & Dragons. Come up with some sexual fantasies that you'd both like to try, put the suggestions in a hat, and pick one at random to try out first. 

Research shows that couples who talk about sex have a better, more satisfying sex life. This date idea is not only cheap, but it will give you the chance to talk about your desires and boundaries, and explore new passionate ways to be intimate. 

4. Take a dance lesson

Head on over to your local community or rec center, or any other community-organized dance class. They’re often inexpensive and a great place to people-watch. If you don’t want to leave your house, find a choreography to learn on YouTube or TikTok. 

Even if you or your partner have two left feet, dancing together is a fun way to explore physical connection, and you’re guaranteed a laugh or two. It might also be a great way to practice your wedding dance… 

5. Plan a holiday together 

Keyword: plan. So you might not have the funds right now, but why should that stop you from creating the ultimate getaway together? 

Pick a destination you’re both dying to visit, do the research and find all the best landmarks and foodie spots, scout the best deals online, and then come up with a plan to save for the holiday. 

Research shows that having shared goals is strongly linked to relationship quality,  and working towards shared goals as a couple and perceived partner support for individual goals were both related to increased happiness in relationships.

6. Go on a lover’s supermarket sweep 

All you need for this week’s date night idea is your local grocery or dollar store. Make a list of three or four items to buy each other — for example, “partner’s favorite snack”, “something they need”, and “something that reminds you of them.” 

You can agree on a budget together and set a time limit to make it even more of a challenge! It's a cheap and cheerful way for you and your partner to shower each other with gifts, and a pretty adorable way to see how well you really know each other.

7. Volunteer together 

Rather than doing something for each other this week, why not do something that also benefits someone in need? 

Research shows that people who volunteer report feeling more satisfied with their mental health and overall lives, which can only mean good things for your relationships. You could give back to your local community by supporting a neighborhood initiative, spending some time with pets at an animal shelter, or picking a cause that is close to both your heart. 

8. Host a game night

For this date idea, invite over your couple friends for a healthy dose of competition. Toss in a friendly wager to spice things up a little. Dust off classic games like Charades and Pictionary, or get a card game going. 

Don’t want other people around? Not a problem. Turn any game sexy and introduce your own saucy rules (hint: strip poker).

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9. Go stargazing 

Put away your phones and take a mindful walk out under the stars and connect with each other. See how many constellations you can recognize and if you’re lucky you might even see a shooting star! 

For city-dwellers, if the light pollution is making it tricky to see the stars, visit the planetarium or take a midnight trip to the countryside and camp out in nature. 

10. Hit up the arcade

Want to feel like a teen again? Grab a few quarters and head to your nearest arcade. See who can score the most points on Pac-Man, shoot some hoops on the basketball machine, and try to win as many tickets to buy your partner a teddy bear or test your luck at the claw machine. Once you’re done enjoying the retro fun, treat yourselves to a slushie. 

11. Have a DIY spa night 

No need to break the bank for fancy spa treatments — you can recreate a pampering session at home. 

Put on some sultry music, light a few candles, draw a bubble bath for the both of you, give each other a sensual back massage, and treat your skin to a face mask.

12. Learn a new skill 

Don’t worry, you won’t have to invest in expensive equipment to try this cheap date night idea. The internet is packed with free tutorials, whether you want to try a new recipe, learn origami, or give a new craft a shot. 

You might even be able to find a cheap (or free) class on Groupon, or, if you and your partner have a special skill, teach each other! Maybe you’re great at playing guitar and your S.O. is handy with a paintbrush. 

This will be a fun way to learn something new, laugh at how bad you are (at first), and practice the art of patience. 

13. Go hiking

Are you the outdoorsy type? Then make the most of nature and hit the trails. The scenic views, fresh air, and quality time together will guarantee a good time. 

And if you’re worried about running out of things to talk about, the Paired app is filled with relationship questions and conversation starters to keep the dialogue going. 

14. Go indoor camping

And if you’re not the outdoorsy type? You can still get away from it all but from the comfort of your living room. 

Think blanket forts, pajamas, and even a playful pillow fight. You get the best of camping, but with no bugs or outside elements in sight. And yes, this means s’mores and scary ghost stories are a must!

15. Hit up a flea market

There’s nothing more satisfying than a good bargain, so why not rummage through as many flea markets as possible and see who can score the best deal? 

Who knows, you might even stumble across a cool vintage find for a bit of nostalgia, or pick up some homeware essentials at a great price. You’d also stop something from going to a landfill by giving it a second life! It’s a win-win. 

16. Watch the sunrise together

You’ll have to wake up really early for this one, but we promise it’ll be worth it. Scout a scenic spot to snuggle up together and watch the sun come up. Bring a blanket and a flask for coffee, and take it all in together. 

Leave your phone in the car and enjoy the sunrise without taking any photos. Not only will this help you stay present and in the moment, but will help you stay grounded in nature and start the day positive, connected and relaxed.

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