7 Date Ideas for a Small Budget (or for FREE)

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! Are you still recuperating your bank account from the winter holidays?

Perhaps you didn’t pay off that new, flat-screen TV you bought for your family as quickly as you had wanted to.

No matter the case, you still want to treat your significant other to a fabulous date night, whether it’s for Valentine’s Day, a birthday or just a special occasion.

How do you put together a memorable evening when you’re on a tight budget? Below, we’ve listed seven great date ideas that are separated into two categories: A Little Money and No Money.

We’re certain your loved one will love any of these great date ideas.

A little money

You have a little cash set aside for your special night. Here are a few ideas to stretch those dollars while making your romantic night together worth a million bucks:

Cook Together

A night of cooking a romantic dinner together can be a lot of fun for you and your partner. Instead of one person cooking while the other watches T.V. in the next room, spend some time to make a fabulous meal and improve your teamwork.

Make this date a full experience by ignoring what you already have in your fridge. Search online for a really decadent meal that will take time and effort. Challenge yourselves, so this dinner doesn’t blend in with your other weeknight meals. Go to the grocery store and pick out your ingredients together. Maybe splurge on a slice of cake from the bakery for dessert later on.

While you cook together at home, take turns at the stove and help each other out, like Patrick Swayze in You’ll truly be eating a meal made with love!

Weeknight Deals

A lot of public entertainment locations in your area have special deals on weeknights. Instead of trying to squeeze in an expensive date on the weekend like most others, try going out on a Tuesday night! Many movie theatres have $5 specials on certain days of the week.

Check your local museums, too, for resident discounts. Usually, the state you live in offers discounted fees, or even free days, at the local art/history museum or aquarium.

Even bowling allies and miniature-golf courses will have discounted entrance fees in the middle of the week to bring customers in.

Plus, if you have your date on a weeknight, you’re less likely to be crowded by others. A little privacy can be very romantic.

Skip Dinner, Do Dessert

Going out for dinner can be very pricey; those drinks add up! Instead, have dinner at home and then dress up for an evening at a chocolate shop. A couple of glasses of wine with a few chocolate truffles will end up being much cheaper (and tastier) than a three-course meal at that Italian joint.

If that’s still a little too expensive, find a local bakery. Many bakeries will sell their cased products by weight. Order an eight-ounce box of freshly made cookies, and go for a walk while you munch and talk.

You could even take your bakery treats to an open area to star-gaze and nibble.

Support Local Art

If you still want to see live entertainment, but you can’t afford those concert tickets just yet, find your local art venues. There’s a variety of choices when it comes to local art, such as a gallery, a comedy club, a poetry reading or a play.

Local artists want a crowd, so, the get you in the door, ticket prices are usually cheap or even free! Pick something the two of you would like to see, and support the arts!

Date ideas when you have no money

You’re broke.

I mean broke.

If you have zero dollars to spend, that doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself and your significant other of a great night. Here are a few ideas to remind yourselves that the perfect date is about having a good time together:

Go to a Forest Preserve

Not every date means you have to go to dinner and a movie. Instead of sitting on your butts all night, grab your gym shoes and head to your forest preserve. Forest preserves have beautiful wildlife, flourishing foliage, and trails for hiking. Forest preserves are usually several miles wide, so it’s up to the two of you to decide if you want to spend an entire afternoon in the great outdoors or just an hour or two.

You’re not limited to just walking, either; you can go biking or skate on the designated trail. Do you like photography? Bring a camera, and help each other spot photogenic wildlife and perfect Kodak moments.

Picnic Date

If you really want a meal included in your date, go on a picnic together! Work together in the kitchen to make a couple of sandwiches, a salad, and some finger foods. Pack it all up, and head to your local park with a big blanket or tablecloth you won’t mind getting a little dirty.

You can even dial up the romance by bringing some candles, but make sure to extinguish them before leaving! If the weather isn’t permitting for an outdoor meal, take the picnic inside.

Set your blanket up in front of a crackling fire (or set up one of those “realistic fire” DVDs on your T.V.), and enjoy your intimate meal in the quiet and comfort of your own home.


Volunteering is a wonderful opportunity to do some good in your community and to bond with your loved one. Heck, it’s even impressive to show how selfless and caring you are!

There are so many options for volunteering, so you’re bound to find an activity that the two of you can both enjoy. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen to feed the homeless, or you could offer to read to children and your local library. Do you like animals? Most animal shelters are thrilled when someone volunteers to help take care of and play with their animals. You can even volunteer to walk dogs.

There are a lot of options for a memorable and romantic date, even if you have little to no money. You might even start to wonder why you were spending so much on date night in the first place!

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