The budget dating game: cheap date ideas for when you have no dollar

Going on a date while you’re at uni is no walk in the park – seriously, because we haven’t gymmed in weeks, so talking and walking simultaneously would be worse than two three-hour seminars one after another.

All your cash is wrapped up in textbooks and other serious stuff (translation: saving for Ibiza this summer) and you still need to style your hair, find something to wear and do your face if you’re a chica (and you’re into that).

That’s why we’ve put together a list of cheap date ideas that’ll still get you in the good books.

Sure, it’s not everyone’s priority to find ‘the one’ between surviving long lectures and learning to live off a student loan. But the perfect opportunity to find that special someone could be lurking right under your nose.

Buckle up, grab a pen and take notes my friend. With our free date ideas, you’ll be a dating guru in no time.

Wine and dine for a discount

Just because you haven’t got a small fortune to spend on a fancy dinner for two, doesn’t mean it’s the best idea to treat your date to a Happy Meal at your local Maccies (although chicken nuggets do make us happy!)

Keep a beady eye out for restaurant deals and special offers that will give you some pretty significant savings. Sign up to your favourite food chains’ newsletters who might email you vouchers and discounts, especially on your birthday – what a gift!

And don’t forget your saving grace – the student card. Student discount means you can save yourself some serious wonga whenever you take a romantic restaurant trip.

If you’re new to the whole student dating thing – or if you’re a normal human for that matter – you may feel like a couple of bevs are necessary to calm your nerves (and sweaty palms). However, drinking booze at a restaurant quickly adds up. Try sticking to bottomless soft drinks or places that include a drink in the price of your meal.

Want to let your hair down? Some restaurants let you bring your own booze (BYOB), so you can pick up your favourite bottle of cheap rosé – bonus! Just make sure to check individual rules first; some places charge per unit or only allow beer and wine, as opposed to spirits.

If you and your lucky date have big appetites, go to an all-you-can-eat buffet and get your money’s worth with some scrumptious snacks. Be careful not to overdo it though – undoing the top button of your jeans on the first date might not make the best impression.

Fright Night

If the ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost’ film sends shivers down your spine, you might want to give this one a swerve.

Suggest a unique, exciting first date and go on a spooky ghost hunt around your local area. You can read online about the history of specific buildings to give yourself the best shot at a genuine spirit sighting.

It may sound scary but it’s a great way to see how your date does under pressure – and an awesome excuse to cuddle up whenever you hear a noise!

Be your own MasterChef

Who says you need to go out to have a good time?

Having a night in with a home-cooked meal is just as enjoyable as going out for a meal. Ask your date what their ideal menu is and show off your skills in the kitchen. Don’t worry if your talents don’t quite stretch past beans on toast, you can check out our tasty DIY takeaway ideas for students for recipes that will always impress.

If baking is more up your alley, why not have your own Bake Off and play Mary Berry at her own game?

Indulgent treats like gooey brownies or chewy cookies are bound to go down a storm (the mess of flour on the kitchen floor will be worth it).

 

Cuddle up watching rom-com (or horror film)

Contrary to popular belief, we think the cinema is great for a relaxing first date. You can cuddle up and not have to worry about awkward silences. Make the most of two-for-one cinema tickets, half-price tickets on Saturday mornings or perhaps consider buying a cinema card if you’re a film buff.

We recommend staying away from the snack counter (it will eat your wallet as a snack). You can bring your own supermarket treats instead and you’ll look even more thoughtful.

Keep a look out for any open-air cinemas in the warmer months. What could be better than watching your favourite movie snuggled under the stars? You’ll be the resident halls couple in no time.

If you’d rather have a film night in – and no, we don’t mean ‘Netflix and chill” – it’s an uber-cheap way to have fun in the comfort of your own home. Build a blanket fort in your front room, add some fairy lights for a touch of romance and voila! You can even make your own popcorn for extra brownie points.

Show off ya’ knowledge

Maybe you want to flaunt some knowledge about your student city and show you’re not an uncultured swine.

If that’s the case, you could go on a ‘landmark crawl’ and explore the historical sites right on your doorstep. Have a look online to find some hidden gems or tourist attractions you never knew existed; maybe throw in a few facts you learned the night before to spice things up.

If history is your cup of tea, national museums and galleries are also a must-see (with free entry most of the time!) There’ll always be plenty of exhibitions in your local area, and if you’re struggling for things to say, art and culture is bound to inspire some kind of interesting conversation!

How about a romantic stroll?

Despite what we said in the intro, a romantic stroll in the park can be one of the best dates out there, depending on our scatty British weather – although there’s a reason that loads of films end with kisses in the rain! Just sayin’.

Take a walk in the open air (maybe even hold hands if you’re feeling confident) and get to know each other with an Insta-worthy background.

You could even make it into a fun dog walk if either of you has a pet pooch, or feed the ducks at your local park – the perfect chance to get rid of that stale crust at the bottom of your bread bin.

The person who gives their chosen duck the most hilarious name is the winner.

Impress with a picnic

If you do go for a wander around the city, you might find yourself working up a bit of an appetite. A picnic in the park will really show off your prep skills and could make the least romantic person blush.

You could ask your date for their top five favourite foods and splash out on a cheap bottle of vino to really push the boat out. Even if you just bring a couple of cheese sandwiches and some cocktail sausages, it’ll make you look super romantic and thoughtful.

Weather not on your side? A couple of cosy blankets and a flask of hot chocolate will still go down a treat!

Whether you meet someone special or find yourself asking where all the normal people are, we hope our cheap date ideas help you to have a laugh along the way. After all, dating should be fun!

Pluck up some courage (you can do this!) and give it a try. Let us know on Facebook or Twitter how your first date went – we’ll be expecting a wedding invite!

Head back to the #YouGotThis hub for more of our handy student guides!