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March 13, 2017 | By: Kerri Barreca

10 Best (Cheap) First Date Ideas

Couples and Money

Dating. Some people love it and some people dread it.

It might not seem like it but dating season is just around the corner. We’ve moved our clocks ahead, next week marks the official start to spring and soon enough every major city will be teaming with people looking for a little extra spring in their step and a partner in crime. To help here are my top ten first date tips for finding love on a budget.

  1. Change your routine. It can be hard to meet new people while sticking to your usual routine at your usual hangouts, like the office, your gym, or the local bar.  You may be lucky enough to meet someone who also happens to be at these regular joints, but chances are, you’ve depleted the pool and it’s time to move on. Get a free 3-day pass at a different gym, or simply go to a different gym location. Also try different activities, so if you usually do yoga try rock climbing, or if you go running take a different route.
  2. Try a dating service. Getting a bit of help from online dating sites, speed dating or even a matchmaking service will be more efficient when it comes to meeting new people who are looking for the same things as you.  Using these services can take out a lot of the guess work.  Both parties go in knowing it’s a date with the purpose of getting to know one another better and see if sparks fly.
  3. Keep it short and sweet. A first date can be exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time.  Chances are, you don’t know the person very well. Maybe there was some prior chit chat online, or you met at a party last week, or they might be a friend of a friend, but bottom line, you don’t really know what you’re getting into—it can be magical or it can be mortifying, so I wouldn’t make a huge commitment (and investment) by going to an expensive restaurant or show.
  4. Keep calm and have an escape plan. A first date should take place in a safe and public space, but you should also come ready with an escape plan. It will come in handy should you need to duck out gracefully, and you won’t have to spend more than a few bucks for the entire ordeal. If you hit it off with the person, great! But you can wine and dine each other later.  In the meantime, why go to expensive restaurants or shows if you don’t even know if you like the person yet?
  5. Coffee talk. Sometimes the best option is the simplest one.  Meeting at a coffee shop is tried, tested and true.  It passes the test, it’s affordable, it’s public and you don’t need to wait for the second course to arrive if the date goes sour and you need to bail.
  6. Get outside and play. If you’re bored or tired of the coffee thing, consider going outside and doing something active.  Most cities have free skating rinks in the winter, and tons of bike and hiking trails during spring and summer. You could also go for a walk or a bike ride around town as we move into warmer months. Not only are these ideas affordable, but fun activities like these can give you something to talk about and act like an ice-breaker. Plus, any lull in the conversation is less awkward if you’re busy pedalling.
  7. Get cultured!  Most museums have free days or reduced pricing on certain days of the week, so you and your date can get inspired by impressionist art or learn about prehistoric animals without hurting your wallet. This is also a good way to find some common ground and interests between you and your potential new partner.
  8. Attend a street festival. Who doesn’t love a good street festival, especially during summer? Explore one of the many street festivals in your city or go exploring in a fun neighbourhood.  Admission is free!  Enjoy the street bands, food trucks and the chill vibe together.
  9. Plan a picnic. Want to try something quieter? In the warmer months, plan a picnic in a city park. Do not underestimate the power of a picnic. It’s a great opportunity to show off some of your culinary skills while also enjoying nature. Bonus points if you bring a checkered blanket and a wicker basket!
  10. Engage in a creative exchange. I have a friend who went on a first date with someone where they each had to teach the other person something. Her date was an artist so he brought a bunch of crayons, paints, spices, and regular household items to do art together in the park, while my friend taught him a few yoga moves.

The key to dating is having an open mind, not an open wallet, so there are no excuses to staying home alone and sitting out what could be a fantastic dating season. 

Use our Free Budget Calculator to find ways to save for you next date!


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