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Dating on a Dime: Budget-Friendly Date Ideas

Dating can be fun…and expensive. But just because dream dates on TikTok cost hundreds, doesn’t mean yours have to. Here’s 6 budget-friendly date ideas to help you find love, without losing your shirt.

Dating on a dime: Budget-friendly date ideas

We all know that costs have risen for…well…everything 💀 And just like you’re paying more for gas, rent and Doordash than ever before, finding love has gotten more expensive too. 

How expensive? Online dating site Zoosk recently looked at the average cost for a dinner for two and a movie, across the entire US. dinner and a movie might not be an extravagant date, but nonetheless it would not set you back just under $100. $97.67 to be exact.Yeh, sliding into the DM’s might be free but what follows sure isn’t 🙃

Of course it’s potentially a lot worse than that (or a bit better) depending on where you live. Daters in New York are looking at $150 for a first date, while lovebirds in Des Moines, Iowa get two New York dates for the price of one, with the average coming in at ‘just’ $72.

Whichever way you look at it, dating can be expensive. But it doesn’t have to be. Cleo’s a bit of a hopeless romantic, so we’re here to share with you 6 budget-friendly date ideas that can help you find a spark, without setting fire to your wallet.

Cook a meal

Eating a fancy meal doesn’t have to mean booking a restaurant 4 weeks in advance and having to yell your conversation over an arguing married couple sitting 12 inches away from you 🤡 Not only can you save a fortune by cooking at home, but it also gives you much more opportunity to get to know your date.

Try to pick a recipe that isn’t too complicated. You don't want to spend the entire evening prepping multiple courses, this is supposed to be about getting to know each other. Also remember that it’s not just about the meal. Put on some music, light some candles, get a bottle of wine. Don’t get cringe about it, but make an effort.


When it comes to affordable date ideas, getting out in nature for a while is a great way to get to spend some quality time. You get to enjoy some fresh air, get some endorphins flowing, and it doesn’t feel like you need to fill every second of silence with conversation. 

Obviously this is weather dependent, so you’ll want to plan ahead ☔️  You should also make sure you know your date well enough to judge the hike you choose. A 10 mile trek up a mountain might be a normal Saturday afternoon for you, but your date might prefer a casual stroll around a lake 🥵 

Movie night at home

Everyone loves the movies. But not only does a trip to the movie theater wreak havoc on your bank account, it also means having to put up with people on their phones, talking and chewing 🤢 during the film.

Instead, why not have a movie night at home? Get cozy on the sofa or in your bedroom, and put on a classic movie to watch together. You could each choose your favorite to watch, or even spring from an at-home rental. It’s still going to be a ton cheaper than a movie ticket.

Even better, you can load up on popcorn and candy without needing to sell a kidney on the dark web 🍿


Don’t want to stay home for your date? Choose brunch over dinner 🍳 Opting for eggs benedict in the morning rather than steak or pasta in the evening is a cheap date option which means saving a bundle on the bill. And you still get all the benefits of a nice meal out.

Not only are the food options cheaper for brunch, but cups of coffee are much better for your wallet and your health than wine or beer. 

Yoga class

Here’s another option for an active date, but without having to rely on nice weather. A yoga class is a great way to get the blood flowing, and it’s gentle enough that anyone can do it🧘‍♀️  The ✨positive vibes✨ that accompany this activity will put you both in the right mindset for some great conversation afterwards.

Finish off the date with a green juice at a nearby coffee shop or juice bar, and you’ll have the perfect pairing of finding love while practicing self love 💜 Namaste! 

Comedy club

Taking in an open mic night or amateur comedy show is another cost effective way to spend the evening. Comedy clubs often have low cost or even free entry, on the proviso that you buy a couple of drinks while you’re there.

You can get in a few laughs, get to know each other during the breaks and have a couple of drinks, all for far less than a meal at a restaurant. And if you do want to get something to eat, the vibe of these places means splitting some nachos or a pizza won’t make you feel like a cheapskate.

It’s all about the details

At the end of the day, there are a million different things to do on a date that don’t cost a lot of money. But here’s the secret to making them feel special👇

Low 👏 cost 👏 doesn’t 👏 mean 👏 low 👏 effort 👏

The key to making these date ideas work is to put thought into them. Don’t just open up your laptop and ask your date to choose a movie. Don’t buy a packaged lasagna and slap it in the oven for dinner. Make it clear that you’ve put time and effort into planning and preparing for the date.

It’s obvious when someone cares enough to make that effort, and that’s the difference between a date who sees your low cost option (and, by extension, you) as ‘sweet and thoughtful’ instead of ‘cheap and nasty’ 😬

Let Cleo help build your bankroll

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with frugal dates. But it’s nice to have options, right? The problem is, saving money can be tough. Luckily, Cleo’s here to bring you AI-powered savings features that can help build your bank accounts in no time.

The app offers a huge list of features to help you save, like Round Up, which stashes the pennies from your transactions into a separate savings pot. Or Autosave, which automatically moves money into your savings pots based on rules you set 💁♀️

And if you need a little kick to keep you motivated, simply type ‘Roast me’ in the chat to get some tough love on your spending habits 😈 If you’re more into ✨ positive affirmations ✨ just type ‘Hype me’ and get a little boost from your gal Cleo. 


Finally, a budgeting app that understands your real essentials—iced coffee.

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