8 Ways to Save on a First Date Without Looking Cheap


A first date is your chance to get to know someone better — and if you're lucky, make a love connection. However, if you come off as a cheapskate, you may never get the chance. (See also: If You're Doing This on a First Date, You're Not Getting a Second)

Like so many others dealing with the aftermath of a recession, you may not have the resources to wine and dine your date. But this doesn't mean you can't show her (or him) a good time. Luckily, you don't have to break the bank to guarantee a second or third date. Here are eight ways to save on the first date without looking cheap.

1. Know Your Date's Interests

There's no law that says you have to spend a lot on a first date to make a good impression. If you're trying to keep the date within a specific budget — but you don't want to appear cheap — you need to find low-cost activities that match your date's interest. Maybe your date enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, or maybe she's an animal lover. After you know what makes her tick, research inexpensive options in your area. With this trick, even if you choose a super cheap activity, your date won't think you're being cheap. Instead, you'll score big points for being intuitive or observant, which practically guarantees a second date.

2. Pick Seasonal Activities

Choose seasonal activities that don't cost a lot and you'll save money without looking like a miser. Since these activities are once-a-year events, your date may enjoy the experience regardless of how little or how much it costs. Seasonal activities might include a hayride, a parade of holiday lights, strawberry picking, or fireworks in the park.

3. Wine and Dine at Your Place

Going to a nice restaurant and catching a movie isn't exactly cheap. You can easily spend $40 or $50 on dinner and another $30 at the movies. If you cannot afford a $100 night, offer to wine and dine your date at your house — or hers. Choose a budget-conscious meal and create a romantic ambience. Perhaps a bottle of inexpensive wine, candlelights, fresh flowers, and an after-dinner movie on Netflix. Your date will be so impressed by your effort, that he or she won't give thought to how much you actually spent to make the evening possible.

4. Plan an Early Date

If you want to take someone on a date but you can't afford the experience, get creative with the times. Instead of an evening or night date, how about a lunch date? Go to brunch or lunch and you'll save money by ordering smaller lunch portions. After you finish the meal, catch a matinee and pay $3 or $4 less for a movie.

5. Miniature Golf

Going to dinner is a cliche first date night. If you're looking for something a bit more casual and fun, take your date miniature golfing. Get outdoors and enjoy some activity as you laugh at each other's struggle to make a hole-in-one. Laughing can ease nervousness, and when you're finished playing enjoy a cup of coffee or ice cream.

6. Pay in Advance

If you want to checkout a concert, a play, or another cultural event but can't afford two full-priced tickets, use websites like Groupon to score discounts. Using a coupon on a date is a controversial subject (I think it's perfectly fine, frankly), but your preference may be to avoid showing up with one. You can get around that by picking up the tickets from the box office in advance. Your date won't be any the wiser.

7. Spend the Day at a Lake

If your date is the outdoorsy type, he or she might enjoy spending an afternoon in the park. But you don't just walk around holding hands and chatting — create a memorable, romantic experience. There are plenty of low-cost park activities suitable for a first date. You can rent paddle boats or go kayaking, or locate a shady spot underneath a tree for a picnic lunch or dinner prepared by your hands.

8. Skip the Expensive Flowers

Some people bring flowers on a first date, but this practice isn't really necessary. A bouquet of roses can set you back as much as $50, which is too much to spend when you don't know what the outcome of your date will be. Besides, if you're meeting your date at a public place, she probably doesn't want to carry a bouquet of flowers in her hands the entire evening. And even if she's able to leave the flowers in her car or at home, a big bouquet might be too much too soon. However, if you can't let go of tradition and you insist on bringing something, a single rose or flower will do — and it's much easier on your wallet.

Do you have other ways to save on a date without looking cheap? Please share in comments!

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