Frugal dating tips are much-needed in this time of economic downturn and rampant bankruptcy. Those of us in the dating pool tend to be younger and less established in life, so the bad economy is hitting the dating community worse than the married and settled. To help the cash-strapped singles out there in the dating scene, I’ve produced “50 Frugal Dating Tips”, which I hope will be the ultimate guide to dating during a recession.
Cheap Dating Tips – Frugal Dating Guide Basics
I’ll start with 10 basic dating tips for singles and couples of all stripes. These cover the some helpful hints and general advice for dating during a bad economy. After these 10 basic frugal dating tips, I’ll try to touch on ideas for specific dates.
- Avoid Talk of Money – The first thing to remember when dating frugally is you never talk about money. Avoid discussions of how cheap or expensive a meal or activity is. If it’s expensive, you’re going to sound like you’re either bragging or whining. If it’s inexpensive, you’re going to sound cheap. Avoiding money talk for a few dates is a good idea anyway, but it’s especially important when dating on shoestring budget.
- Try Online Dating – If you’re having trouble finding a date, avoid the bars and go online to find a date. Over half of America’s singles look online at least occasionally for potential dates, so it’s a bigger dating pool than any bar you’ll go to. Most of all, you’re cutting out the expensive bar bill you’re going to run up looking for someone. Watch out for internet creeps. People aren’t always truthful in a dating situation, but the virtual relationships make it a whole lot easier to lie. If you do meet this person in person, don’t do so alone. If you do, meet them in a public setting.
- Avoid Alcohol – Guys with loads of money to spend might argue just the opposite. But if you want an inexpensive date, the first thing you do is cut out the alcohol. A bar bill adds up pretty quickly, so there’s no need to introduce that into your first date. Not only is getting a buzz expensive, but neither of you will be on the top of your game. Sure, a buzz might take off some of the edge of nerves and shyness, but you can do that on your own. So don’t drink and date.
- Cook Dinner For Her (or Him) – Women love when a guy cooks for them. The guy is putting out a lot of effort just for her. She’s being pampered. Staying in and cooking your own meal is generally a whole lot cheaper than the alternative, too.
- Manage Expectations – When you start dating a woman, don’t buy several dozen roses for your first date. Don’t even buy a dozen roses. Buy a single rose instead of a dozen. It seems more personal. Also, if you buy 12 roses on the first date, she’ll expect a dozen (or more) on the second one.
- Thoughtful Is Good – Give her a gift, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Make it thoughtful. Give her a gift that’s more sentimental, though you don’t want to come on too strong. Little mementos from a fun date will mean more than some expensive gift. Women love to collect memories. The stuffed animal or plastic ring from the arcade game you played could mean more than a necklace, if there’s a good memory behind the thought. Don’t overplay your hand, though. If you get over-sentimental, she’s going to think you’re needy or desperate.
- Keep Her Wanting More – Whether you’re having a great time or a disastrous first date, make sure the date doesn’t stretch out too long. Less is more. It’s better to leave your date wanting more. If you’re having a horrible first date, it’s better you just tell her that the two of you obviously aren’t made for each other, and why not just call off the date. It’s cheaper, but you also let her off the hook and retain your dignity. She’ll respect you for that much, at least. If she’s been rude, insulting or obviously disinterested, then there’s no reason for you to waste anymore or your time and money. Things won’t get better. If things are going well, ending the date a little early retains the mystery. Mention to her you enjoyed her company – end bad dates quick – cut your losses – don’t mess around – if she’s rude, insulting or disinterested, just call it of
- One Night at a Time – Established couples having trouble with money should follow the less is more philosophy, too. If you are used to taking a whole weekend away together, take a night instead. The two of you will have a shorter, more compressed good time. You won’t be in one another’s company all weekend, so the time you do spend together is likely to be more pleasant. If you go out of town for Friday night and part of Saturday instead of the whole weekend, you’ll have “me” time back home to decompress or get chores done you normally would.
- Time Share Babysitting – Another dating tips for a couple with kids is to trade off nights with another couple. If you have a friendly couple you trust and who also has kids, trade out nights baby-sitting the kids. One couples takes Friday night out on the town, while the other babysits. The next night, the Friday babysitting couples gets a night out alone on Saturday. This is cheaper than hiring a babysitter and it makes your friends happy, too.
- Bag of Dates – Now we get to the fun part. If you’re dating seems too conventional or stale, make yourself a dating grab-bag. Both of you should list ten different date ideas. When the night comes, grab one out of the bag and that’s the date for the night. This creates a spontaneous dating experience, while doing something one of the two of you wants to do. You can go through the whole bag of dates if you like. Here are 40 ideas for those dates, by the way, starting with “10 Fun Activities”.
Ten Fun Activities on a Date – Going Out
A lot of times, people have trouble coming up with new and inventive date ideas. These ten fun date activities try to put the couples into a fun situation, or simply get the two of them thinking about their relationship. When your date is over, these ultimate dates will be memories the two of you will have the rest of your lives. You’ll look back and say, “That date was different, at least.”
- The Thrift Shop Game – You and your date go to a local clothing thrift shop. Each of you take the same amount of money, maybe $5 or $10, and buy something for the other one. Each person has to wear that item of clothing out for the evening. Watch the strange looks and imagine the comments of people who see the two of you out for the night.
- Read a Book on Sexuality – A more established dating couple can buy a book about human sexuality or sex and take turns reading select passages out loud to one another. At first, you’re likely to get nervous laughs from your partner. It’s likely to be hot, though, and may lead to a nice night in with your partner.
- Nature Hike – Find a local hiking trail or state park and go for a nature walk. Not only do you get out into nature and away from your everyday life, but the two of you get to spend private time together talking. Buy a disposable camera and take photos of your walk. You can take pictures of animals you see, interesting parts of the landscape or each other. Build a photo album of your hikes and enjoy the memories.
- Geocache Hunt – It’s probably too expensive for a couple struggling money wise to buy the equipment necessary, but you might be able to borrow from a friend or family member the GPS you need. Geocaching is a game of the 21st century, where people search for buried treasure using clues and a global positioning system finder. Your GPS device will take you to where one of the 800,000 geocache items have been buried (by other geocachers). Essentially, geocache hunters are scavenger hunters using technology for their search. It gives the two of you a puzzle to solve while you’re getting to know one another.
- Letterboxing For All Ages – If geocaching is too expensive or technological for your tastes, you might consider letterboxing. This follows a similar concept, where a person follows clues (usually given on the internet) to find a “letterbox” buried somewhere in the world. Like the geocache hobby, letterboxing is popular enough that you’ll find letterbox treasures to find in and around most major American metropolitan areas. When you find the letterbox, you either record your find by pressing the letters or symbols from the letterbox on a scrapbook, or you place your person letterbox stamp on the treasure yourself — then rebury it.
- Double Date Mall Competition – When two or more couples are going on a date together, you might consider the $10 Mall Hunt Contest. Each couple gets $10 to spend on any one item found in the mall. The couples then separate and find the best item they can for ten dollars or less. Bring the receipt for proof, of course, and may the best shopper win. Usually, the teams vote on which item is best.
- Stalking Is Fun – You and your date need to pick out a person or couple and follow them on their date. You do this until you’re noticed, then pick someone else to follow. You and your date will go on a spontaneous journey throughout town, and there will be the aura that you’re spies or private eyes or something. There’s no telling where you end up. If the person or couple you’re following notices, end the pursuit and move on. Be sure not to do anything illegal in your surveillance.
- Inner Tubing – Find a local river and inner-tube down the stream. The two of you get out in nature and get private time together. The great thing about the innertube experience is that you’re constantly moving, so the sights and sounds change along your journey. Many rivers have start and stop points, though you’ll need to arrange for a ride back to your starting point.
- Home Movie or Home Album – If you have a home movie recorder, make a home movie. This encourages fun and creativity, and doesn’t necessarily have to be sexual in nature. Couples without a recorder can make a photo album with a disposable camera. Or bring a camera or recorder on your date and make a visual record of your time together.
- Photograph Scavenger Hunt – This is another idea for a larger group of dating couples. Each couple contributes 1-3 items (depending on numbers of couples) to the scavenger hunt list, making out a list of 5-10 items. Then, each couple takes a disposable camera around, taking a picture of every item on the list. Whoever finishes the list first wins a prearranged prize.
Getting To Know Each Other – Private Time
Sometimes, couples just need some private time with one another. New dating couples need private time to get to know each other. Old couples need quality time to remember why they fell in love in the first place. These 10 frugal dating ideas are not only inexpensive in a time of recession, but these timeless dating tips encourage the couple to enjoy their partner’s company and maybe even learn something new about the person they love.
- Stargazing – Spread out a blanket, lay under the stars and talk. Tell your date or partner that you’ve heard about “active listening” and you want to give it a try. Essentially, the two of you place yourself in a private spot conducive to thoughtful conversation and you listen to what he or she has to say. You can talk about the past and the future of your relationship, how you enjoy looking at the stars or simply reaffirm your feelings for one another. Take a blanket, inexpensive wine, cheese and crackers and make an evening out of your sky watching.
- Gone Fishing – Go fishing together. That might sound like it would a big, smelly mess for the city dweller, but here’s what fishing entails. You get out into nature and have loads of time to sit and talk. Fishing is relaxing, because there’s nothing to do but think and talk.
- Cheap Heat – One of you should rent a cheap hotel room. Then leave a note or a phone message for the other to meet them at so-and-so room at the hotel and “knock three times”. The cheap hotel is a cheap thrill, because it provides a sense of something out-of-the-ordinary and illicit. This is what cheating couples do, so you get a sense of the forbidden. Most of all, it’s cheap.
- Road Tripping – A road trip is another way to add a sense of adventure, spontaneity and mystery to your date. Choose a town on the map the two of you have never been. This destination should be within an hour’s drive. Make a road trip to this town and see what it has to offer. Maybe you’ll find a local festival or a landmark, or so other event of local color. And if you can’t find any of that, it’s sure to have a cheap hotel.
- Picnic and People Watch – Go to the local park and have a picnic. Watch the people come and go and enjoy the company of your date. People watching is always interesting with a new date, because you get a real sense of what this person you’re dating is like form his or her comments about the people around you.
- I Scream For Ice Cream – Dine in and then go out for a trip to the local ice cream shop. Most of these specialty shops allow you to build your own banana split or sundae and a couple can enjoy a dessert together. Or if the two of you want to express yourself, you can make your own cone. An alternative is to buy a few materials and stay in for ice cream. A scoop of your favorite flavor of ice cream, candy and whipped cream are always fun to play around
- Share a Hobby or Skill – The two of you should considering learning a new skill or getting a hobby together. Many communities have free or almost-free classes for hobbies the two of you can enjoy together. Self-improvement is good. Take lessons learning to juggle or perform card tricks or, even better, learning to dance. Or the two of you can get into self-improvement with a class or club together. Maybe the two of you can join a book or movie club. These are non-traditional weekly or monthly “dates” that encourage you to spend time together, but also keep things fresh. And, best of all, it’s inexpensive.
- Learn to Play His Favorite XBox Game – Here’s something wild. Show an interest in that blasted XBox he’s always spending time with. Learn to play his favorite game and spend a little time each week enjoying the Playstation, Wii or XBox 360 with him. He certainly invested enough time in that contraption, so don’t let it drive the two of you away from one another all week. Once you show a little interest in what he uses to blow off steam, you’ll have more credibility when you later ask him to do something else with you.
- Pick a Card, Any Card – Go to the local card store together. Search through the cards and pick the card out you would buy for one another. Read the card aloud. You don’t even have to buy these cards, which makes this an extremely cheap dating activity. The great thing is, you can read through the funny relationship cards and share a laugh or two, then find the one which really shows how you feel. You end up with laughs, togetherness and a touching sentiment all at once. And it’s free.
- Share a Good Book – Take a date to the local library or book store and spend a couple of hours. Browse through the books, have a cup of coffee and pick the book you want. Then head out to the park or lake and read to your date. Choose a romantic book or a selection of poetry. This makes reading relevant to your dating relationship and enjoyable for the both of you.
Staying In – Dating During a Recession
There’s nothing more frugal than staying in. The problem with dating during a recession is that staying in becomes a bore. If the two of you fall into the same routine over and over, one or both of you are likely to wonder whether this was the relationship you expected it to be. If your finances dictate that the two of you have to stay at home, here are home dating tips to spice up your dating life at the house.
- Bring Out the Candles – Light a few candles instead of turning on the electric light bulbs. It’s debatable if this is cheaper or not, but it does turns the drab old house or apartment into a slightly different setting. Remember, everyone looks better under candlelight. Candle light is flattering to the complexion, so a simple candle lighting or two is enough to spice up the dull old everynight.
- Home Spa Treatment – Spas are expensive, so turn your home into your personal spa. Get a home spa kit or an inexpensive electric shiatsu message device. Massage your partner for ten minutes at a time massage, then trade off. Or set a night when one of you gets pampered and the other acts as servant and massage therapist. Personal massage therapy for couples often leads to even better couples fun.
- Bath Tub Fun – Offer to wash his hair. This is something that only happens when he gets his hair cut. He probably hasn’t had his hair washed in a bath by someone else since he was a kid. When it’s over, he can do the same for you. Washing your lover’s hair is a sensual thing to do. Better yet, it’s a slightly different kind of sensual than you’re used to. Bring out the bubble bath soap if you want to. The idea is to trick things up a little bit.
- Cook a Meal Together – Nothing inspires togetherness like cooking a meal together. Research on the internet for a good, cheap cookbook. Then recruit your partner into cooking a slightly exotic dinner. The two of you can work together on a home project and then enjoy the meal together. Don’t forget the candlelight.
- Dvd Marathon – Okay, couples spend a lot of time watching movies at home together. If you’re going to do this anyway, you need to spice it up. First off, get a Netflix account. For $10 or $15 a month, you’ll have your pick from a huge amount of movies with which to plan your movie night. Then start a routine with DVD marathon or alternate choosing movies. Each of you might select a movie and the two of you watch them back-to-back in a DVD marathon. Consider rating each movie to get a discussion going about your likes and dislikes with movies. Those who don’t like to argue and discuss should forget that last piece of advice.
- Living Room Picnic – If you’re staying in all the time, try to make sure things don’t get stale. Have a picnic in your living room. If you want to pretend you’re out on the town, get a concert or comedy DVD off of netflix. Then you can watch the show while the two of you are dining in.
- Have a Music Party – Download 5 to 10 songs apiece and burn a CD for one another. Then have a music party while you eat dinner together. Most songs cost $0.99 apiece, so you’ll be able to share with each other your latest musical tastes for cheap. If you’re afraid he will download something inappropriate, you might narrow the playlist down to romantic songs. Maybe the two of you end up slow dancing in the living room.
- Play a Drinking Game – I suggested earlier that you shouldn’t drink and date. But that was for the first date or new couple, because it was too expensive and too unstable at first. If the two of you enjoy a drink every now and then, consider playing a drinking game like you would at a party. Just because it’s just the two of you, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play games. Heck, you might write “house rules” for a card game or board game you normally play, something with a little alcohol and nudity thrown in.
- Naked Date – Set aside a naked date night. This can only lead to good things. Watching movies and eating the usual mush at home gets awfully old, but you’ll be amazed how much different it seems when you’re both nude. If the idea of eating naked grosses you out, then each of you buy and wear sexy undergarments. That should get the idea across.
- Celebrate Yourselves – Along the same lines, the two of you should celebrate your relationship every once in a while. This doesn’t have to be on birthdays and anniversaries. Have a personal party some time. Do something special for one another. Buy a card or gift for one another. Surprise your partner. These little moments will mean a lot in the long run. Unexpected celebrations of your special dating relationship can be inexpensive, and will ultimately create more lasting memories than a dinner out on the town to celebrate your anniversary. The idea is to keep things new and different and to break out of the pattern. Anything done with love and a little imagination will mean something.
Free Shows – Cheap Activities – Frugal Dating Tips
Finally, here are cheap activities and free shows the two of you can attend when the two of you finally get cabin fever. Keep in mind there are forms of entertainment in your town that are inexpensive or even free. Just be resourceful and keep your eyes open for frugal dating opportunities. Read through your local newspaper and look at fliers wherever you go, because you’ll find some bargain dating ideas and entertainment on the cheap. These frugal dating tips are simple reminders of the kind of entertainment you can look for, though these are dozens of other cheap date ideas you can come up with on your own when you’re dating with little or no money. Remember, dating is about enjoying your partner’s company, so just try to find new ways the two of you can enjoy each other’s time together.
- College Life – If you live near a local college, you’ll have access to all kinds of free culture and fine arts events. College activities are meant for kids without a whole lot of money, so you can go out on the town for cheap. Musical students put on concerts. Drama students put on plays. Art students display their art. It may not be Broadway, Radio City Music Hall or the Guggenheim, but the two of you are experiencing new sights and sounds together. Often, you’ll walk away very much entertained.
- Laugh a Little – Concerts and professional sports can be expensive, but a comedy club is usually fairly inexpensive in comparison. Go out and have a laugh. Life can get serious at times, and laughter lifts the spirits. If you’re really out of money, go out to an open-mic night at a local comedy club. The stand-ups will either be hidden talents or so bad they will be unintentionally funny. Comedy clubs are usually intimate settings, which are good for getting to know your date and their sense of humor.
- Animals Are Always Fun – Go to the local zoo. Zoos usually have a small admission price, because they are publicly-funded and they cater to families with children. But the zoo isn’t just for children. Everyone has their favorite animal, and you always end up seeing something interesting at the zoo.
- Support Your Local Team – Local high school and college sports events have low admission prices. Football and basketball teams usually have large, enthusiastic crowds, so spectators can soak in the raw emotions of the game. If you aren’t a sports fan, let me give you a word of advice. If you watch the games, become a fan. Watching a basketball game when you don’t care about the winning is like watching a movie where you don’t care about the characters or what happens to them. Sports requires the fan’s participation for them to get the full enjoyment.
- Go To The Museum – With a few notable exceptions, the museums in major metropolitan areas attempt to be affordable. You can spend an afternoon or evening in an art or history museum with your date. This gives the two of you a chance to experience new culture and discuss the experience.
- Hitting and Shooting – Go to the local driving range and hit a bucket of golf balls. If your date enjoys activities, this is a fun way to spend a little time together. Bad golf drives are better than good ones, so you’ll each get a good laugh. The price of admission is almost nothing and you’ll end up with some memories from your attempt at golf. Other, more extreme versions of this idea are the batting cage and the shooting range.
- Skating is cheap and fun.Whether you go ice skating or roller skating, your date and you will get a kick trying to relearn how to skate. People tend to look like fools the first few minutes when skating, and inexperienced skaters are likely to have mess-ups even once they learn to skate.
- Become a Biker – Rent bicycles and go biking in the park. If you can find a good biking trail, you’ll be able to enjoy the nature around you. The two of you can stop along the way to enjoy the scenery and the company of one another. And when you’re finished with your biking date, you won’t have to worry about the extra weight you put on at the meal.
- Festivals and Free Concerts – A lot of communities put on festivals and free concerts, especially in the temperate months. Look in the local newspaper and city website for information on spring and summer festivals. These are great destinations for a cheap date, because lots of people are coming to have a good time and so the concert or festival seems like a place to be.
- Live Music – When you decide to go to a local restaurant, search promotions for those with live music. Suburban restaurants these days often have indoor live shows and music shows on the patio. This is a great way to get a good meal and a concert for the same price. It gives your date the sensation you are spending for musical entertainment. Try to find a live music show in the genre the two of you will enjoy. There should be plenty of options.