Low on cash but drunk in love? Planning dates seems easy for those with steady paying jobs, but today’s college students need more frugal ways to treat their significant other without going further into debt. Put away your wallet and put your heart on your sleeve; it’s time to date on a budget.
1. Go to an Animal Shelter
You love animals and animals love attention, so what better place to fulfill both than at an animal shelter? Walk adorable dogs and play with lovable furry kittens at your local animal shelter; it’s a win-win situation. “Volunteering here is a good idea because not only is it free, but you get to spend time with your boyfriend. Also you get to play with lots of dogs which is always nice,” University of Georgia freshman Nicki Brown said. Go with your boyfriend or girlfriend to your nearest animal shelter and feel nothing but warmth and happiness in your heart and wallet.
2. Get your Game (Night) On
Embrace your inner child for a night. Break out the old board games gathering dust behind your Xbox and make the evening into free, competitive fun. UGA sophomore Leah Johnson said, “It’s fun to have a little bit of friendly competition between each other while allowing us to spend time together without having to worry about how much money we’re spending.” You’d be surprised at how intense a game of Connect Four, Battleship or Monopoly can get, even as an adult.
3. Take a Hike
Pro tip: Hike during the day to avoid putting you and your date into a horror movie cliché. Explore the (free) wilderness with your significant other to change up the scenery. “Hiking is a really creative option for a date opportunity,” UGA freshman Hamilton Steimer said. “It gives you the chance to visit somewhere beautiful and experience nature together, which is free and accessible.” The added bonus? You burn some calories together. Pack lunches, grab your hiking shoes and go explore.
4. Netflix Binge the day away
Everyone loves a lazy day when they can just watch Netflix—with or without the chill. Pick a fun ’90s sitcom like Friends or a suspenseful show like House of Cards and don’t stop watching until you can’t stay awake any longer. UGA junior Will Crawford said,“Netflix marathons are the perfect lazy Sunday date. You just grab some chips and queso and relax.” The thriftiness doesn’t stop on date one ,either. When the show you choose releases new episodes, it can become a weekly tradition to see your boyfriend or girlfriend.
5. Stargaze on a Clear Night
Whether you’re impressing your significant other with your thorough Star Wars knowledge or your ability to spot certain constellations, star gazing will make your date out of this world. “Stargazing is a fun way to experience the outdoors while being alone. It’s free, relaxing and really romantic,” said UGA freshman Andrew Teal. It’s free and romantic as long as you bring cozy blankets and relaxing music. Throw in a line or two about how their eyes shine brighter than any star in the sky, you know you want to.
6. Bake Sweets with your Sweetie
Instead of a super fancy dessert that costs you $10, pick up cheap sugar and flour to make something sweeter than your partner. Hit up Pinterest, pick a recipe and then dedicate a date to partnering together in the kitchen baking an amazing treat. “You’re saving money because you’re making your own food,” UGA freshman Jillian Argento said. “Plus cooking is a great bonding experience and food is just a great part in general.” If you fail, at least you can look back on the day and say “Remember that time we baked something hotter than me?”
7. Culture Yourselves
Checking out a bunch of unique sights doesn’t have to drain your checking account. Lots of museums offer free entrance and display one-of-a-kind items that’ll make you and your date gawk in awe. “We went to the Tellus Science Museum over the summer and learned about dinosaurs and renewable energy and then did interactive science activities! We even saw a planetarium show,” UGA freshman Shea Hill said. Check out your college campus; the art department might have a free art museum for students.
8. Try Sneaking into an event
If there’s a nearby concert or festival you and your date can’t afford, it’s worth a shot to still try and buy cheap tickets by the event or beg security to let you in—or you can always try the sneaky way. “In my town, we have this music festival called Pygmalion every year. After I had been at some cheap restaurant with my date, we went on a walk and found the festival grounds,” UGA freshman Lucie D’Angelo said. “We hopped a fence and spent hours listening to music. Honestly one of the best dates I’ve ever been on.” Whether you succeed or not, you’ll have a great story to tell later.
9. Hit the Books
Studying doesn’t have to feel like agonizing pain. If you have to cram for an exam, why not also spend some time with your boyfriend? UGA freshman Ashlie Robertson said, “When I have a few bucks to my name or have a chem test the next week, study dates are the answer I search for. Hit on her while you hit the books!” You can help each other memorize terms and explain concepts all while taking the occasional five minute break to laugh and take some dumb selfies. Get an A on your test and your relationship.
10. Plan a Picnic
The classic picnic date can take you anywhere. Whether you lay out a checkered blanket and basket in a nearby park or bring a fancy tablecloth to a dining hall, a picnic is a cheesy but adorable way to have a cheap, loving meal with your partner. “Whenever my boyfriend and I don’t know what to do with a nice day we will go on a picnic,” UGA freshman Spencer Linton said. “It’s cheaper than going out to eat and you’ll get more quality time.” If you can’t cook, bring fast food and lay it out on fancy plating. It’s all about presentation.
After your date, commemorate the experience with a gift for your girlfriend.