Inexpensive Date Ideas for Dinner and More

Check out these four cheap date night ideas that are fun, creative and most importantly, affordable

Cooking at home or ordering take-out are great options for everyday dinners, but there's something memorable about taking your sweetheart out for a romantic date. And while some people hear 'romantic' and think 'expensive,' it is possible to have one without the other. In fact, some of your best memories as a couple probably don't involve spending a lot of money.

If you're looking for something to do together, here are four fun, cheap date night ideas that may even get you to venture to parts of your city you've never explored before.

1. Authentic ethnic cuisine

Large chain restaurants can offer delicious, consistent meals no matter where you are in the country, but there's no substitute for the real thing. Smaller, family-run restaurants usually follow more traditional food preparation techniques and can be less expensive than mainstream versions of the same type of cuisine, making them a great cheap date idea. These restaurants often spring up in ethnic communities with names like Chinatown or Little Havana and cater to immigrants who miss the tastes of home.

So next time you're in the mood for pasta, skip the unlimited breadsticks at big chain restaurants, and support your community by finding a local restaurant run by the people who do Italian food best: Italians.

2. Matinee and happy hour

For an inexpensive date idea, shake up the order of the timeless dinner-and-a-movie date, and catch a matinee first on a weekend afternoon. Tickets are much more affordable than they are in the evening, and you might even find better seats since the theater tends to be less crowded during the day.

Afterward, head to your favorite bar or restaurant that has a regular happy hour; the food and drink specials will make the date a little easier on your wallet. Both matinees and happy hours are designed to get people in the door during slower business hours, so why not adjust your schedule and take advantage of the savings?

3. Picnicking and hiking (or biking)

Few dates are as romantic as a picnic in a park, on the beach or anyplace with fresh air and a view. If you're feeling ambitious, prepare hot food at home and take it along in containers - or pick up some good bread, cheese, fruits and veggies, wine and maybe some olives or hummus, and enjoy a simple 'farmer's lunch.' Pair your outdoor meal with a hike or bike ride, and you'll enjoy a wonderful afternoon together at a relatively low cost.

4. Social coupon excursion

Social couponing sites have changed the way people find restaurant deals. You can also often find deals on activities like romantic carriage rides, a day at the waterpark, golfing, art classes, dance lessons and more, making date night on a budget even easier. Use these discounts as an opportunity to explore your city and eat at or visit a place neither of you have been before.

Most of the deals work by offering discounts or selling restaurant gift certificates for less than face value; for example, you could buy a $40 restaurant credit for only $20. Find several activities you'd both like to try and make a night of it! It's an inexpensive date idea and an excellent way to try new and unfamiliar restaurants and activities in your area. Just remember, at dinner, it's considered good practice to tip your server according to the true price of the meal, not the discounted price.

Finding money for your date night on a budget

Planning a memorable date night on a budget doesn't have to be a challenge - these are just a few cheap date ideas, and with a little creativity, you can enjoy all your city has to offer without breaking the bank. One way to make sure you don't overspend on a date night is to combine finances with your partner and allocate a portion for spending time together to a joint checking account. Then, consider using our mobile banking app to keep an eye on your date night spending. Since you're both accountable for the funds and have only what's in the account to spend on a date, there's less of a chance you'll accidently overspend, and you can even plan a weekly date night into your monthly budget.


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