10 Tips for Debt-Free DatingBy Andrew Housser
For those who are dating, summer can be a wonderful time to enjoy activities together. But dating can be costly. Today, dates can cost upwards of $100 if you include a nice dinner out, wine and a movie. Some estimates put the cost of fine dining during a two-year relationship at about $8,000. Yet it's possible to get credit for dating creatively – without overusing the credit card and overspending.
1. Give dinner a theme.
Cooking in is much more affordable than eating out. Try a new cuisine, and perhaps try shopping at an ethnic market for ingredients if one is available in your area. Accompany the meal with a related movie or music.
Go for a walk or a drive away from city lights. If you are not an astronomy expert, look for an app to help you identify planets and constellations. Or consider checking out astronomy groups in your area. Some meet at observatories or other locations to give people a closer look through a telescope.
3. Watch for free days.
In many areas, cultural institutions have free days. Whether you learn more about what you and your date have in common, or how you differ, it is a good opportunity to follow up with a cup of coffee or cocktail and conversation.
4. Make a picnic.
Picnics are classic date destinations for a reason. They can be romantic, take you outside, and help you get away from day-to-day activity. Choose a nearby park, or drive to a remote spot. If weather is not cooperating, you can even spread out a feast on the living room floor.
5. Play games.
Whether you choose a board game – an old favorite or something new – or a video game, you'll have fun. It's simple, too. At the minimum, you simply need a deck or two of cards and a copy of Hoyle's – or an Internet connection.
6. Visit open houses.
Especially appropriate if you are saving up for a home of your own, visit open houses in an area of interest. For couples who are in a serious relationship, it can provide a good forum for discussions on future lifestyle.
7. Walk a dog.
Even if you do not have a pet of your own, you and your date can help a friend, neighbor or family member and have a fun experience in doing so. Some services, like Rover.com, even make it possible for qualified people to earn money while taking care of pets. Many animal shelters host programs for volunteers who would like to walk and care for pets, too.
8. Get your hearts racing.
Many couples like to sign up together for a walk, run, bike ride or triathlon. Training and participating together will give you a shared goal and activity.
9. Go shopping.
There are plenty of interesting shopping experiences beyond the mall. One popular activity for couples (or groups of friends) is to check out a thrift store or yard sale (or string of sales) with $5 each and see who can find the best bargains.
For this popular, growing activity, use your phone's GPS to track down one of the 2 million geocaches around the world. Once you are experienced, set up your own cache. Find out more at www.geocaching.com.
Ultimately, you and your partner will have the most fun when you have honest expectations of what you can afford. Love is priceless, but it is not worth going into debt on a date.
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