A Collegiate’s Guide to Cheap (But Fun) Dates

A Collegiate’s Guide to Cheap (But Fun) Dates

There are always positive and negative aspects to everything in life, and being in a relationship is no different. Sure, you can go on all the cute dates you want, but also: cute dates are expensive. Like, really expensive. And when you’re on a college student budget (aka you cringe at the thought of meals that costs more than $10), being in a relationship can seriously kill your wallet.

My boyfriend and I have been on this relationship train for almost two years now and even though we’ve seen pricier dates (yikes, he once treated me to $20+ dinners!) we’ve been getting by with cheaper opportunities.

Even if you’re not in a relationship, these are all still applicable to that best friend in your life that’s always down to hang (but in a cheap way, because we’re all in that struggle together). With Valentine’s Day coming up soon (like, tomorrow!), I figured a round up of all my favorite date ideas would be fitting. So go and grab your boo, your bae, your BFF for life and have fun without breaking the bank.

As a college student, I barely have any money to treat myself, let alone go on expensive and lavish dates. But I still have fun regardless. // #college #valentines #dateideas

See what your student discount can get you.

You should be bringing around your Student ID everywhere anyway, so why not put it to good use. There are so many places that accept student discounts; don’t be afraid to ask them if they do. From cheaper movie tickets to roller skating passes, you’ll never know what you can get if you just ask.

And, if you’re like me and you’re afraid to ask them, look it up online ahead of time! Company websites tend to list whether or not they accept student discounts.

Stop using Uber.

Hear me out: I love Uber. I think the idea is genius. As a college student with no car and a hatred of public busses, Uber is endlessly helpful when it comes to getting from Point A to Point B. But let’s not kid ourselves, those $4 Uber rides add up quick.

Despite how convenient it may be, stick to dates you can get to on the public bus system or by walking.

Explore campus.

I don’t know about you guys, but my campus is pretty. Like, really pretty. But because of my constantly hectic schedule, there’s very little time to experience how pretty it really is. (I’m still finding more spots to love after almost four semesters of being here!)

Because my boyfriend is from a different college than me, this is perfect because everything is new for him too. But even if you and your boyfriend go to the same school, chances are you’ll still see a hidden gem that you’ve never thought to look at. Just start entering random buildings to see what you can find.

(Best of all, this is freeeeeeeeeee.)

Check out what to do around your campus.

Just slightly different from the above, it would be so beneficial to know what you can do on campus. There are probably a ton of fun opportunities, if you look hard enough.

For example, I didn’t know my college has an Arts and Crafts center where you can paint mugs and bowls and other ceramics. There are so many uncongenial date ideas to be found on campus if you just look hard enough. We also have weekly Friday night events that show movie. And most college campuses have game centers where you can play table tennis or other small games.

Have a picnic.

Nice weather? Decent breeze? Good food? What more can you want? I’m not a very outdoors-y person (trust me, I scowl at the thought of leaving the comforts of the inside), but I’m always down for a good picnic.

Spend a few hours (or a lot of hours) on Pinterest and make a cute picnic basket. Scope out some cute picnic-esque spots (from your previous exploring campus date wink wink). Who hasn’t thought of going on a cute picnic every now and then?

Netflix and chill.

Forget that the internet has forever ruined this phrase and branded it as an awful date idea. It’s not.

We all have a giant list of Netflix shows we’re waiting to binge watch, or movies that we keep meaning to see but ugh there’s just no time. Make time. It’s super relaxing to just lay in a cozy bed with the lights off and a bowl of popcorn to share between the two of you. Or to hog by yourself. No judgement.

Here’s my small but rad list of things I’ve been meaning to watch on Netflix, in case you’re interested:

  • Finding Dory
  • The Office… again
  • Portlandia… again
  • Cosmos
  • X-Files

Study together.

Let’s not forget that we’re all still struggling students. A lot of my friend dates involve settling down in a library for hours on end and struggling through classes together. There’s nothing more motivating than being with the right person while you’re pulling an all-nighter. Yeah, it’s a little lame, but library time is special for me and my friends (and we get a lot of work done too so it’s a win win.)

Watch out though: you have to be prepared that you may not get much done. People can be distracting and if you have to really study, this might not be too smart an idea.

Stop overlooking quality time alone.

Some of my favorite times are those spent with my friends or my significant other… doing nothing. Just sitting around, mostly. Talking about who knows what that you won’t remember a week from now. But yet, it’s still very fulfilling in a strange way.

Just being around someone and sitting in silence or, my personal favorite: trying to beat my Tetris score while my boyfriend watches and cheers me on. There’s something about moments like these that just seem special.

Stop thinking like you need big flashy dates to make your time with them worthwhile. A little alone time is just as good.

Watch out for deals.

Let me tell you, one of my raddest dates I’ve been to this year was the one time I got free tickets to see La La Land for me and my boyfriend. (It was an okay movie, but I had an A+ time with him.) If your college has a Facebook group for all of you, chances are someone will post every now and then about free events or cheaper opportunities that you should hit up!

There are also coupons for free food, if you’re a big foodie. My favorite kind of days are holidays where everything goes on sale. Last Halloween was the holy grail for me and my friends; Chipotle burritos were only $3 and Krispy Kreme gave away free glazed donuts.

(By the way, I got the free movie tickets from Atom Tickets! I’m not even affiliated with them, they just give out good deals so often.)

Explore your city

As of the late, I’ve been very into the idea of seeing what my little college town has to offer. My entire freshman year, I did nothing but stay inside my room and go to class, so everything is still new to me. Get out of your university bubble and see a world outside of your campus. The downtown area of whatever city you’re in is bound to be absolutely gorgeous, so take a trip and see what it has to offer.

What dates do you have planned?

I’m a big believer in no one needs a significant other to have fun. I’m probably going to go on some of these dates with my friends instead! But with Valentine’s Day (or Galentine’s) coming up, I’m dreading sitting at home by myself instead of going out and having fun.

What are some of your favorite dates you’ve been on?

Published by Joanne
I'm Joanne, an eighteen year old college student living in rainy, rainy Florida. On this blog, you can find a collection of all my random thoughts and maybe some actually helpful college advice here and there.

2 thoughts on “A Collegiate’s Guide to Cheap (But Fun) Dates

  1. This is such a cute post! The best date my boyfriend and I went on was a spontaneous hike – it was totally free to go on the trail, and we ended the day with the most amazing view. I totally agree that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a good date!

    • A hike sounds awesome! I don’t think my boyfriend and I have had much outdoors-y dates but that just sounds adorable. Plus, having a nice view at the end of it sounds like the best thing ever. I don’t think we have much hike-able places where I’m from, but now I’ll definitely be on the lookout.

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