These Budget-Friendly Date Ideas Will Help Your Romance Survive the Recession

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Love hurts sometimes, but when it comes to dating in a down economy, sometimes your wallet takes a bigger wallop than your heart. From gas to groceries, you’ve probably noticed things are more expensive than ever these days. You can thank inflation for that.

“Inflation is when prices go up, causing a decline in the purchasing power of consumers. It typically affects most products and services; however, the percentage increase varies,” personal finance expert Laura Adams says. “In other words, inflation affects people differently based on their spending habits, such as traveling, dining out, and entertainment.”

Which means if you’re single, wining and dining a potential love interest might just destroy your budget—but it doesn’t have to. Relationship coach Krishna Avalon recommends prioritizing “spending in a way that feels reasonable and responsible and honest while still being open to love.”

Budget-friendly date ideas

Dating doesn’t have to mean champagne and caviar if you remember the purpose of getting to know someone better is, well, getting to know them better. Here are Avalon’s best budget-friendly dates.

1. “Fresh air, sunshine, and water are still free. They’re also mood enhancers and make great date material. Bike ride or walk to your favorite park, river, or ocean spot and picnic.”

2. “Play is important in healthy relationships that last,” so ask your date for a friendly game of volleyball, tennis, basketball, or invite them to roller skate with you.

3. Take a drive through the mountains or somewhere scenic. “Bring a picnic for the best spot … This makes for a great dating experience.”

4. Make dinner together. “For your dinner prep, make a playlist in advance and set the mood. Just because you’re budget-friendly doesn’t mean you skip on thoughtfulness and intention. You can create a lot of moods for free. Maybe you go to the grocery store together, too, to share meal costs.” You can even make it a habit of taking turns meal-shopping and cooking, which she says “helps set the tone for the relationship habits that you want and the ones that help you feel responsible and honest about your budget.”

5. Play records and slow dance, have a dance party, or sing karaoke. “Keep it light and simple. The best things in life are often exactly that. Even better when experienced with someone you care about and are attracted to.”

Get creative with other date-related savings

Stretching your dollar during these times can also inadvertently help your dating life, Adams says. For example, when your budget is tight, “always shop and compare prices carefully and take advantage of second-hand stores, sales, promotions, and coupons.” For a new date outfit, she suggests looking for new or secondhand clothing on sites like ThredUp, Poshmark, and TheRealReal.

Additionally, if you make charges on a credit card, she recommends using a rewards card that allows you to earn spending points or cash back—your charges might be able to pay for a future date.

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