Dating in your twenties is complicated. Do you focus on your career or start to think about settling down? Do you finally download Tinder? Is that opening message effortlessly funny or do you come across a little too try-hard? You both swiped right, but now the conversation seems to have dried up a bit – do you still meet up for a drink?
And that’s before you’ve even met somebody. After that, there’s a completely new minefield to navigate. Do I like this person? I’m getting closer to my thirties – do I want to commit to this long term? Do my friends like them? Are we putting a label on this now? When am I going to meet the parents? Will they like me? Do we move in together?
On top of that, it’s often difficult to find the money to go out on dates. When you’ve already spent most of your wages on rent, food, bills and travel, and then a little bit more on after-work drinks and nights out, it can be tricky to find something to do together that doesn’t break the bank and leave you limping your way to payday.
However, until you’re at the ‘collapsing on the sofa in front of Netflix’ stage, there are plenty of things to do together that don’t break the bank.
When you’re planning your next date, remember the immortal words of Jennifer Lopez:
‘Even if you were broke, my love don’t cost a thing.’
And so, in that spirit, here are 5 date tips that are frugal without making you look cheap.
Dating in your Twenties Tip 1: Outside is free! Take a walk or a hike.
Let’s start off with the cheapest idea imaginable: something completely free. Sure, it might seem like the kind of thing that only happens in a Nicholas Sparks film, but it’s actually a pretty great way to get to know each other and discover places you never knew about before. If you live in the countryside, maybe plan an evening walk through the country that ends at a nice local pub. If you live in the city, why not try a similar thing but by just walking wherever your feet take you? Take each crossroad as it comes and see where you end up. If you end up lost, whip out your phone and Google Maps your way back or jump on a bus.
Getting lost together or walking through the countryside is a great way of getting to know each other. Plus, finding a quirky pub or hidden gem down a side road can take a date from average to unforgettable pretty quickly.
Dating in your twenties Tip 2: Find a local open mic night
Open mic nights and cheap alcohol usually go hand-in-hand, making them perfect for a first date. Not only are the drinks cheaper (so you can look flash and buy a round or two, if that’s your thing) but there’s background music to fill any first date awkward silences. And – if you’re really struggling for conversation – you can always talk about the musicians or bands that are playing. You’ll get to find out a bit about each other’s music taste in the process too.
Price: £/££ (depending on how much you want to drink!)
Dating in your twenties Tip 3: Look online for deals and offers at local restaurants
You can often find offers to eat at swanky restaurants for a fraction of the price if you look online. On slower nights or during quieter periods, restaurants often offer massive discounts on their food. If you’re lucky, you can eat at a Michelin star restaurant or the restaurant of a famous chef for less than £20 each. Check sites like Groupon, lastminute.com and Wowcher offer great deals not only on food and dining, but on bars, days out and holidays too. For thrifty daters, these sites are a goldmine.
Dating in your twenties Tip 4: Explore a museum or gallery
Admission to museums and galleries is often free – meaning that you get to look classy and cultured without spending anything at all. If you live in a city, there’s always plenty to see for free – from pickled sheep and outrageous modern art to classic paintings, Ancient Egyptian sarcophagi to dinosaur skeletons – meaning that, even if museums aren’t usually your bag, you should be able to find something that you’ll both find interesting.
And even if nothing takes your fancy, why not choose a museum or gallery that has interactive exhibits or a section for children? Nothing perks up an otherwise dull museum like taking a selfie dressed up as a knight or wobbling around on an earthquake simulator.
Tip 5: Cycle somewhere new
Whether you live in a city, town or village, hopping on a bike isn’t just a great way to keep fit, it can also make for a great first date. And now, with cycle hire schemes in lots of cities, you don’t even need to own a bike. So what’s stopping you? Pack a picnic, cycle somewhere picturesque and enjoy each other’s company for a while.
Is there anything we missed? Have you got a particularly thrifty idea for first dates? Let us know in the comments below!