Cheap Dates: Cool Ways to Impress For Less

  • Real romance can't be bought...

    Some of the best dates, so we hear, don't involve large outflows of cash. You need not dip into your checking account, line of credit, or home equity to show her a great time. Here are some ultra frugal date ideas that will feel anything but cheap. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Take her to a psychic
  • Take her to a psychic

    As AskMen.com shrewdly explains, "Women love to know about the future, their karma and all that mumbo jumbo. Get her palm read and have her find out if somebody close to her is going to win the lottery or if a new love is coming into her life." Psychics can actually get pretty expensive, so try to find one who charges only $5 to $10 for a basic palm reading -- sometimes amateur psychics set up shop in the park. Try to find one of those. An appointment with Sylvia Browne will probably cost a bit more. Photo Credit: David Sifry
    The beach
  • The beach

    Another AskMen.com suggestion, taking a date to the beach could be very expensive (a three-day weekend in Bermuda) or -- if you're savvy -- almost free. Don't rent beach chairs; bring towels instead. Bring your own Sun umbrella. Don't forget the sunblock and an early 90's era boombox to show her your vintage side. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    "People watching"
  • "People watching"

    Take her to a Starbucks or other area coffee shop with an outdoor seating area along a well trafficked street. Try not to buy anything whatsoever, but if you do, go for only a standard cup of coffee. Avoid expensive pastries and iced beverages. Stir your cup of joe thoughtfully and comment on whatever music is playing (it will be Bjork, Sufjan Stevens, or The Shins at some point -- my personal guarantee). Sigh frequently as you observe those around you. Say something vaguely intellectual. Adjust your glasses. Repeat as necessary. Photo Credit: fukagawa
    Art galleries
  • Art galleries

    Nothing says classy and sophisticated like an art gallery opening. Even if you haven't actually seen a paycheck since 1982, your date will assume you are a captain of industry. Art gallery openings provide plenty of subjects for intimate conversation (now's the chance to put your Art History minor to good use!) and often have generous quantities of free wine available. Photo Credit: lifeontheedge
    Restaurant openings
  • Restaurant openings

    Similar to the art gallery date idea. If any of your friends work in the restaurant biz, get them to alert you to any new restaurant openings or "soft" launches. Those on the family & friends guest list typically eat for free, trying whatever they want off the drink list as well. Go for the champagne. Photo Credit: infomatique
    "Wine night"
  • "Wine night"

    You need not go out and splurge to show her a great time. A totally decent bottle of wine can be had for $2 nowadays, as we recently reported. If you have roof access, or an actual patio, spend an evening over said $2 bottle and some generic appetizer cheese. This whole package should set you back no more than $6. Comment on the beautiful sunset and use this time as a sell-in opportunity for your next frugal date to the beach. Photo Credit: yashima
    Hiking
  • Hiking

    Your tax dollars pay for those fancy national and state parks. Use them. Go on a hike. Stay on the trail and avoid dangerous wildlife. It's fine to show off your rugged side, but don't go anywhere too cold or truly desolate, lest your date turn into the premise for a new Jon Krakauer book. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Bookstores
  • Bookstores

    Find a crummy independent bookstore with "character" and spend hours browsing the shelves for hidden literary treasure. Try to avoid big-box stores like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million -- you want to seem exotic and cultured, not milquetoast. Photo Credit: smudie
    Museums
  • Museums

    Many museums offer discounted rates with a student ID (if you have one left over from college or are still in school), while others are free altogether. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, for example, has a "suggested" donation amount -- but you are free to ignore it altogether. Just give a nickel or dime and you will both get in for the whole day. Nothing beats a priceless collection of art for less than the cost of a gumball. Photo Credit: Angellote
    Pet stores!
  • Pet stores!

    Nothing warms a woman's heart like puppies, kittens, angelfish, and delicate baby tarantulas. Browse the local pet store... virtually every mall has one. It won't cost you anything; think of it as the frugal man's zoo or SeaWorld vacation. Just make sure your date is OK with pet stores in general. Plenty of people think they are the worst places to buy a pet. Maybe opt for a petting zoo instead. Photo Credit: edanley
    A word of warning
  • A word of warning

    Cost-conscious is one thing, but don't be lazy about it. Taking your date to FedEx because you forgot to mail off a contract for work is not likely to spark a love connection. Similarly, making her wait while you get your car's oil changed or go in for your annual physical is also a bad idea. I recommend you check out Going.com; the site allows you to browse and instantly RSVP for fun free events in your city (open bars, seasonal happenings, launch parties, etc). Photo Credit: cjc4454
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