No romance without finance is an adage that some live by.
And if you are like most people when you think of romance, you think money and lots of it. The Beatles may have sung "Money Can't Buy Me Love," but it sure helps make a downpayment.
Ian Stanczyk, a probability expert, estimates that the average date costs $250. The actual cost of the date is about $130 but he included the cost for one's time because, after all, time is money.
Whether $250 sounds correct or a bit high, creativity, energy and enthusiasm can create great dates on the cheap.
Creativity equals clipping coupons, thinking out of the box and just going old school now and then.
And while some may frown at the use of coupons, there are plenty of savings available if you clip them.
Don't be afraid to pull out coupons
The Entertainment Book may actually have more value than your "little black book" because it has coupons for really nice places that make great dates. The book includes two-for-one coupons for restaurants, area attractions and movie theaters.
Of course, you will have to pay for the book, but it doesn't take long to earn that money back in savings.
The book also has a section for special coupons to be used 72 hours within a birthday. So a date that might have cost $50 to $100 will be cut in just about half.
It may not be the best idea to introduce a coupon on the very first date, but if you have been dating for a while, why not?
Still, many may be put off a bit by whipping out a coupon when trying to impress that special person.
If so, there are ways to date without spending any money at all.
Walk in the park
A nice park is a dating gold mine.
In the summer and spring, it can be used for walks, working out and even watching a sunset. In the winter, you and your date can build a snowman or make snow angels. In the fall, just look at the colorful leaves.
Dates in the park also can provide a great opportunity to talk much more than hitting up a movie can do -- and much cheaper to boot. Coffee, hot cocoa, bottled water, soda or ice cream will add a minimal cost.
If you have been dating for a while, a nice poem or card can make the date even more meaningful and romantic.
But if you are looking for something more exciting and a bit more filling, go to a happy hour.
Hit up happy hour
McCormick and Schmick's, a seafood restaurant in more than 20 states, like many restaurants, offers a variety of inexpensive options during happy hour. The specials include drinks and food.
And if happy hour specials do not accommodate your schedule, set a lunch date.
Lunch menus are always cheaper. McCormick and Schmick's even offers 10 lunch entrees for less than $10.
McCormick and Schmick's also offers personalized menus. When making a reservation, tell the host that it is for a birthday, anniversary or special date of any kind and the menu will reflect the occasion. For example, "Happy Birthday, Jen." Just imagine how he or she will feel if you take that extra time to make the date special.
Applebee's and TGI Friday's are other great chains that offer inexpensive entrees and other special offers.
And why not grab a movie after eating?
Rent a movie
Checking out a good flick at the matinee is always a good deal.
But if the matinee hours have passed, make it a Redbox night. Redbox is a self-serving DVD vending machine that provides movies for a little more than $1 a night. The company has more than 28,000 locations across the country. They are typically at grocery stores and drugstores.
Buying a cheap pizza or putting together a meal with food already in the refrigerator can make for an enjoyable evening indoors.
If there is a little more money in the budget, pick up a drink of choice.
Keep in mind the type of movie you select can set the mood. If it is early in the dating process, consider comedy or action. Be sure to ask what types of movies are preferred.
If staring at a TV screen for more than an hour watching a movie bores you, what about using the TV to play games?
Play some games
A fun-filled cheap date of video games, board games and cards can be a big hit.
Nintendo Wii provides an opportunity for an exciting and maybe even competitive date.
And if not video games, what about a competition involving the most popular board game -- Monopoly, Risk, Scrabble, backgammon, checkers and chess are other options.
Even UNO is a good game to play. But don't just play the games. Make the games interesting by incorporating possible wagers to share personal interests and information so that you can learn more information about a suitor.
So whether it is mustering up enough courage to use a coupon, enjoying time in the park, hitting a happy hour, grabbing a movie or playing games, creativity can make dating cheap.
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