8 Ways to Date On a Budget This Summer

Don't have a lot of cash to spend this summer? No problem. There are plenty of inexpensive date options.

8 Ways to Date On a Budget This Summer

Don’t have a lot of cash to spend this summer? No problem. There are plenty of inexpensive date options.

-Faye Brennan

couple picnic date

Just the other day, my friends and I were complaining about how expensive dating can be, especially in the summertime. The desire to be out in the nice weather adds up to high drink tabs, long cab rides home, and countless other expenses that you don’t remember until your bill comes at the end of the month.

But, summer dating doesn’t have to kill your bank account. Consumer Savings Expert Andrea Woroch, who’s appeared on the Today Show, ABC News NOW and more, has come up with a list of great, inexpensive date ideas for the warm weather season.

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It doesn’t matter if you’re playing the field or are happily married, one of these eight inexpensive date ideas will work for you:

1. DIY Picnic
Okay, you’ve heard of the “Picnic in the park” date idea plenty of times before… but have you ever actually done it? You’ll be surprised at how easy and romantic it can be. Besides packing a scrumptious meal for the two of you to share, Woroch also suggests the following details: “Pack portable speakers with a pre-mixed playlist on your iPod as well as a bottle of wine and a few chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert,” she says. “Not only is this DIY date an inexpensive alternative to a night on the town, but you’ll score extra brownie points for taking the time to plan this special event.”

2. Skip the Cocktails
For those single people on the dating scene, this may be a hard tip to swallow. But, drinking alcohol on a date really does add up fast. Try having a great time without the liquid courage. “Hit a restaurant that doesn’t serve booze or make it an afternoon date,” Woroch suggests. “Otherwise, plan to drink and dine at a restaurant or bar that offers happy hour prices, which is usually in the early evening.” And stick to just one cocktail, will ya?

3. Use Gift Cards & Daily Deals
There are so many great resources now that make it easy to explore all your area has to offer at a major discount. Woroch suggests checking out sites like CardAvenue.com, “Which will save you anywhere from 5 to 50 percent on restaurants and other entertainment activities,” as well as Groupon and Living Social. “If you’re worried about appearing ‘cheap’ on the date, redeem the offer when your date is in the restroom,” Woroch advises.

4. Swap Babysitters!
One of the most common problems for couples with children is finding (and affording!) a babysitter when date night comes along. Instead of handing over a chunk of your paycheck to a high school student for one kid-free night out, consider Woroch’s advice: “Why not swap services with neighbors, co-workers, family or friends for a free night or afternoon out? Otherwise, consider sharing one babysitter among a coupe of families and splitting the cost. Consider searching SitterCity.com for vetted babysitters in your area who will match your needs and budget.”

5. Plan a Freebie Activity
As always, outdoor dates are free, free, free! “Hiking, biking or visiting farmer’s markets don’t cost a dime and tend to reveal more about your partner than a standard date,” Woroch says. So get out there and enjoy the great outdoors together!

6. Get Smart Advice from Your Smartphone
For those with iPhones, Droids, and Blackberrys, finding a fun and affordable date idea is just a few clicks away. There are smartphone apps that do all the planning for you, such as A Date Night iPhone app. “It will help you find unique, interesting and affordable events that are sure to impress,” says Woroch. “The app randomly selects a ‘thing to do’ for your next evening on the town, some of which won’t bust your budget.” How easy is that?

7. Get Some Inexpensive Culture
“Many libraries and coffee shops offer free poetry readings and musical entertainment,” Woroch offers. “Look for art gallery tours or free museum days to improve your cultural IQ while impressing your date.” Smart and captivating beats boring and same old every time!

8. Create a Thrifty Movie Night
And finally, if you still can’t find something to do together, nothing beats a movie night at home. “Pick-up a free DVD from your local library or a new release for just a dollar from Redbox,” says Woroch. Then, kick it up a romantic notch: “Dim the lights and serve some freshly popped popcorn or your date’s favorite candy for a theater-like experience.” Woroch, you are a budget dating genius!

For more savings tips, follow Andrea Woroch on Twitter: @AndreaWoroch.

Faye Brennan is senior editor at BettyConfidential.

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