5 Cheap Date Ideas for Summer

Between spontaneous three-day weekends at the shore and endless pitchers of happy-hour sangria, summer and all its partying ways can drain you and your S.O.'s wallets before you can say "overdraft fees." It's not unusual to be more hard-up for cash than during other seasons, because you're likely making more impulse purchases. They're hard to avoid: The weather is so lovely, you're going out tons more, and, really, what's $7 for two scoops of gourmet chocolate fudge ice cream when it's so freakin' creamy and delicious? 

But if you've been feeling the pinch, it's time to start making better decisions. Sit down with your partner and talk about some ways you can spend less money as a couple, like saving up for a nice vacation you both really want to go on by cutting out expensive dinners at restaurants. Don't worry, this doesn't mean you have to sit in a non-air-conditioned room all summer watching Netflix. You can still go on dates; you'll just have to get a bit creative about where you go and what you do. There are plenty of cheap and free ways to have fun as a couple — here are just a few ideas:

Host a potluck dinner

Invite a few other couples over for a triple or quadruple date, and watch the free food pour in ... ahem, I mean, enjoy the company of friends. You can ask everyone to bring something different, from appetizers to desserts, and provide the home-cooked main dish yourself. 

Take a hike

It's free, fresh air is good for you, and, if you're lucky, there'll be a romantic, mountaintop makeout session involved. 

Hit up a farmers market

You can create a smorgasbord of a meal by combining smaller items from different vendors with free samples — much cheaper than dining at an outdoor cafe (and more active!)

Picnic somewhere other than a park

We've all heard the picnic in the park idea: It's cheap but kind of yawnsauce. Take your picnic basket to a local lake, the beach (if you're lucky enough to live near one), or a favorite local landmark. 

Find a free outdoor movie or concert

Practically every town has some free nighttime cultural options — take advantage of them. Watching a movie under the stars is more romantic than sitting in a movie theater anyway.

Images: Fotolia, tish/Flickr.com; David Goehring/Flickr.com; Rhett Maxwell/Flickr.com; vastateparksstaff/Flickr.com; Heather Harvey/Flickr.com

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