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4 Simple Tips for Low-Budget Dates

If you’re on the dating market or in the throes of an early relationship, you understand how quickly nights out can wreak havoc on your budget. Before you know it, you’re putting dinner, drinks and festival tickets on your card and not paying it off at the end of the month. Although dating can be a blast, it can quickly drive up debt if you’re not careful. According to Match’s Singles in America Survey, single Americans spend more than $1,500 on dating a year. That’s a big hit to the wallet. These ideas will help keep your spending in check without derailing the excitement or romance.

Be open about your finances

Budget date talk may not be the first subject that comes to mind for setting a fun mood. But don’t hesitate to be honest if your date-to-be recommends a restaurant that’s out of your price range. You won’t come across as stingy for suggesting an alternative place with a more casual vibe for getting to know each other. Keeping quiet and going along on an expensive adventure right off the bat only sets the precedent that you’re game for continuing to throw down the cash. If the chemistry is right, you can plan for pricier special-occasion dates in the future.

Insist on two checks

Gone are the days when it was cute to fight over who has the pleasure of paying the bill. Most restaurants and bars can easily split tabs into two tickets. You can pay for exactly what you had, and no one has to feel resentful about the other person’s third $15 cocktail. If you’re on a tight budget, you can order accordingly, and your date can feel free to get the steak. If your dinner companion gives you the side eye for insisting on separate checks, just explain that it’s always your policy. You can figure out a system down the road on handling who gets to treat, how often and when, if the two of you continue dating long-term. Apps like Venmo, Apple Pay and PayPal easily allow you to send cash back and forth. These apps come in handy to reimburse each other for purchases that can’t be split at the point of sale, like if one person buys concert tickets so you can secure seats together.


Drinks are one of the priciest date-night expenses. If you live in a city that has BYOB restaurants, take advantage of them. Grab a growler from a nearby craft brewery or fetch a budget bottle of wine from the store to share.

Spend time together rather than money


Although a date often includes an evening out with dinner, you’ll save cash and possibly even have a better time if you skip this old-fashioned tradition. Does your city have a bike share or rental program? Go for a cruise in the park and be sure to bring treats for a break. If it’s winter, go ice skating or find a sledding hill. Or head out for an afternoon of bookstore browsing followed by coffee at a cozy café. If an evening date is necessary for scheduling purposes, do a local art walk or gallery hop and then grab dessert. The more creative your plans, the more memorable the date will be.