Econodate: How to Propel Your Love Life on a College Student Budget – Ten Great Cheap Date Ideas

It’s hard to impress that special someone when you’re on a college student budget. But you can create a memorable date without sacrificing next week’s ramen budget. Take advantage of free on-campus activities and other low-cost outings. Here are ten cheap date ideas to get you started.

Show some art appreciation. Spend an afternoon in the galley of your school’s fine arts department. See if you recognize your peers’ names on the artwork, and share your theories on what each painting means.

Get sporty. Students usually receive free or reduced admission to campus sporting events. For offbeat fun, catch an event you’ve never watched before, like a soccer game, volleyball match, or swim meet. If you have a friend on the team, then bring a poster that shows your support.

Take a garden stroll. Many universities have a botanical garden on campus. They often have fountains, walking trails, and cozy nooks, making them the perfect out-of-the-way locale for a date. If you’re into photography, then take artsy shots along the way. Sneak a flower for your sweetie and let love bloom.

Get beachy-keen. If you live near water, then grab some plastic pails and shovels and head to the shore to make sandcastles. This innocent activity will bring out the kid in both of you. For more fun in the sun, collect shells, throw a Frisbee, and take turns burying each other in the sand. At dusk, cuddle up to watch the sunset. Sure, it’s cheesy, but there’s a reason why people do it.

Hit the ice. If your college has a hockey team, then it probably has an ice rink. Find out when open-skating hours are held, and enjoy an afternoon of playful fun. Afterward, warm up with a skating-themed DVD—say, Miracle or Blades of Glory—and sip cocoa with marshmallows.

Go fly a kite. Literally. For directions on how to make an inexpensive paper kite, go to Take your creation to a field or beach and see if it flies.

Rent equipment. Your campus recreation center may have a program that allows you to rent equipment including bikes, canoes, horseshoe sets, tents and sleeping bags, and even scuba gear. Logon to the rec center’s Web site and check out your options.

Be do-gooders. Volunteer for a worthy cause: help build a Habitat for Humanity house, shake your groove thang during a dance marathon, walk homeless dogs, or train for a 5K that supports your favorite charity. If you need suggestions, check with your school’s community service office. You may even get credit toward your Greek organization or scholarship requirements, and volunteer hours always look good on a résumé.

See stars. Some university astronomy departments have a planetarium—a dome that simulates the solar system. If yours doesn’t, then park on a hill and take in the night sky.

Work smart, not hard. Check your school’s online activities calendar for a list of upcoming concerts, plays, comedy shows, lectures, and other events. Also scan bulletin boards and ask your resident advisor if anything good is going on this weekend.


This article was written by Dalia Wheatt

Dalia Wheatt is from Cleveland, Ohio. She has worked as an editor, freelance writer, and Spanish teacher.

1 Comment

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