"A light purse makes a heavy heart," or so says the old proverb. But if the recession has put a damper on your disposable income don't despair - it needn't take the fun out of your love life. In fact, there are many things you can do on a date that don't cost a fortune. But there's one caveat: The key to succeeding at a cheap date is all in how you pitch it. Above all, this means you should avoid haggling, asking for a discount, showing your coupons, telling your date that you're worried about money, or complaining about the cost!
Read on for 25 ways to impress your date on a dime, despite the economic slowdown. Feel free to add a few of your own ideas to the list ...
- Stay In
Sure going to the movies is fun – who doesn't like paying $4 for a Snickers bar and $7.50 for a soda? Instead, save the money, buy some movie-sized treats at the grocery store and spend the evening in. You can pick up a movie through a RedBox location for only $1, at most Blockbuster stores for $2 daily, or watch a show you've already taped to DVR or TiVO.
- Cook Up Some Romance
If you're going out to a concert or a sporting event, cook dinner together at home. This will save the money you would have spent in a restaurant and, rather than waiting for a table, you can spend the time impressing your date with your cooking skills (or laughing about your lack thereof).
- Pack a Picnic
Cut the cost of any date by bringing your meal. Many outdoor amphitheaters will even let you bring a picnic basket or cooler, so take advantage of it instead of spending on overpriced mediocre meals.
- Break the Rules
If you'd like to take your date out to eat think early. Lunch is always cheaper than dinner - and breakfast trumps them all.
- Love and Learn
Check out the schedule of classes offered through your local rec center, gym or arts studio and find one you'd enjoy taking together. When you break the cost down per date, it's often very affordable, and a fun way to build a relationship while you're building some skills (or laughing at each other while you're trying)!
- Volunteer Your Valentine
If the point of a date is being together, why not do some good while you're at it? Look for volunteer opportunities to serve meals at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter, walk dogs at the local shelter, stock shelves at a food pantry, or whatever cause tugs on your heart.
- Enjoy an Afternoon Delight
If you just can't wait for the movie to come out on DVD, save a few dollars on tickets by seeing the early show.
- Shop Smart
Warehouse club stores like Sam's Club, BJ's and Costco often sell reduced-rate gift certificates and coupons for local restaurants, golf courses, spas and more. Find discounts at SmartCircle.com and half-price gift certificates at local eateries on Restaurant.com. (To learn more, read Coupon Shopping: Clip Your Way To Savings.)
- Get Progressive
Instead of footing the bill for an entire evening out, invite friends to do a "progressive" party, where guests go from house to house enjoying an appetizer, entrée or desert. You'll have fun and save money by splitting the costs.
- Scout It Out
Spending a day cruising garage sales, swap meets and flea markets can be a cheap way to stumble across some great vintage finds - you'll probably share a few good laughs as well. (For tips on holding your own garage sale, see In A Cash Crunch? Hold A Yard Sale.)
- Get Competitive
Pull out those old childhood favorites like Yahtzee, Monopoly, Sorry and Clue and see how much competition your relationship can stand.
- Make Your Pick
Look in your local paper to find a nearby pick-your-own farm to get some seasonal produce. Or support your local farmers by buying locally-grown foods through a nearby farmer's market. Then take your haul home and whip up a few homemade dishes to enjoy together. (For more shopping tips, see 22 Ways To Fight Rising Food Prices.)
- Bag the Majors
Instead of shelling out big-time money for big-time sports, start supporting your local, minor-league teams. The tickets are much cheaper, and seats and parking are much easier to find. (For more tips, see 8 Money-Saving Tips For Sports Fans.)
- Watch It on the BIG Screen
Find a local drive-in through driveins.com and snuggle up under the starry sky for a memorable (and cheap!) evening out. Bring your own snacks!
- Go Wild!
Visiting the wild animals, that is, at a local zoo - or petting zoo if you want to get up close and personal. The American Association of Zoos and Aquariums provides information on facilities nationwide.
- Score Some Brownie Points
If you have young nieces and nephews in your family, take your significant other out to watch their Pee Wee football game or ballet recital. It's free, it's fun and it'll put you in everyone's good graces for a while.
- Take a Hike
Walk, run or ride your local trails together for a fun and invigorating day together. Trails.com lists more than 45,000 trail guides to hiking, biking and walking tours nationwide.
- Go Historical
Take a day and do that historical walking tour of your city or a nearby town. You'll get a little exercise while you're getting a little bit smarter. And it's free. Check out Preservationdirectory.com to find the nearest historic tour in your area.
- Live Out Your Fantasies
Well, at least the G-rated ones. Take a day and tour model homes, window shop for yachts and test-drive nice cars. It's fun to dream together - and dreaming is always free.
- Try a Little Culture
Many museums are free, or accept donations; others offer free admission on specific days. Find one near you at Museumstuff.com or Galleryguide.org.
- Consider College
Go online and find out what sporting and cultural events your local college hosts. You can enjoy a day or evening out for a relative bargain and who knows, when the local pitcher goes pro you can brag that you "saw him when!"
- Get Fit
Take advantage of those free one-day or one-week gym membership offers you get in the mail and spend a little time sweating off all those dinners out!
- Sample With a Sip
Visit a local winery, vineyard or brewery to enjoy free tastings. (To learn about how to invest in this classic beverage, see Investing In Fine Wine.)
- Hit the links
Well, actually, skip the 18 holes (and pricey greens fees and cart cost) and head over to the driving range instead. If you're more playful, opt for an afternoon at a nearby putt-putt golf course! (There are a few things investors can learn from golfers. Read 10 Golf Tips To Help Investors Tee Off.)
- Keep it Local
Check your paper for unique local activities that are often much less expensive than dinner and a movie, like lectures at the library, an art gallery showing at the local community center, watching bands play a small club, going on a local garden tour, or going to a community festival or fair.