Though Jenny from the Block insisted that love don’t cost a thing, her side of the story doesn’t ring true for the multitudes of cash-strapped, star-crossed lovers all over. When you’re digging someone and want to make an impression, cash is king. But from finding the perfect dress to making dinner reservations at trendy eateries, date nights tend to add up. However, with a little bit of effort and lot of creativity, winning the girl (or guy!) doesn’t have to require racks on racks on racks.
1. Rent a bike
The jig is up – everyone knows that the sleek rides that people love to pose with (and in!) on Instagram are more than likely rented. While whipping it in a luxury vehicle for a few hours is fun, it’s not the most financially savvy option. Save the planet – and your coins – by biking. If you don’t own your own set of wheels, companies like Hubway in Boston, Citi Bike in New York City and Divvy in Chicago have loaners that cash in as low as $6 for 24 hours. Take your SO for a spin around the city at sunset, when the weather’s cooler and pedestrian traffic is dwindling. Work up a sweat…to shower together later.
2. Instead of the movies, see a show outdoors
[Photo: Shakespeare In The Park]
Gone are the days of single-digit ticket prices and student discounts. If you still want the novelty of the movies without the cost and sticky floors, try taking your date to an outdoor movie, play or musical. Universities and colleges often hold Screen on the Green events with contemporary titles. And if you happen to be in New York City, Shakespeare in the Park draws in plenty of midsummer night dreamers. Don’t forget the snacks!
3. Instead of champagne, buy a personalized bottle of wine
Jay and Bey can afford to get drunk in love from Ace of Spades. For the power couples with humbler budgets, click around on Evermine.com. You’re able to personalize beer and wine labels for as low as $.50. Stick one on her favorite bottle of three-buck chuck, or slap one on his favorite brew. They’ll treasure the thoughtful keepsake forever.
4. Instead of catching the big game, take in a scrimmage
Maybe you want to show spirit with your sweetie…but NBA and NFL tickets can end up going for thousands of dollars. Some NFL teams, like the Denver Broncos, offer free tickets to summer scrimmages for their loyal fans. It’s all of the excitement of Friday Night Lights – without the fees.
5. Stay in and cook!
The way to anyone’s heart is through his or her stomach, but that journey doesn’t have to be a costly one. Sure, the allure of sharing a romantic meal at a cute, candlelit, Yelp-able restaurant – and playing footsie under the table – never gets old…but that bill and tip certainly does. For a fun dinner date, head to the farmer’s market for ingredients (be sure to make a budget!) and prepare a meal with your fresh finds. Vegetarian fare will probably be the best bet for affordability…protein can be pricy! Cooking is a good teambuilding exercise, and a surefire way to see if the heat exists inside of the kitchen and out. If you're not at the "come over!" stage yet, have a picnic.
6. Hit the flea market for a present
Don’t spend your ducats on a date that’ll leave you high and dry. Sure, spoiling your honey and making it rain at the mall or boutique of your choice is a scene straight out of a rom-com…but there are better ways, my friend. Visit a local flea market – Brooklyn, D.C.’s Eastern Market and the Rose Bowl in SoCal are popular – and treat the apple of your eye to treasures from another age. That vintage brooch has way more meaning than a karat she’ll barely be able to see.
7. Instead of an overseas getaway, think local
The allure of a romantic romp on a private, sandy beach is enticing, no doubt. Plane tickets, hotel suites, souvenirs and other travel essentials are at their peak price points when it’s warm, though. Take a road trip and head to the nearest beach for a weekend. Airbnb lets users rent rooms (or entire houses!) all around the world for however much you’re willing to pay. The town 20 minutes away might not be the same as spending a holiday in Montego Bay – but who cares? A day in the sun with bae is a day well spent.