A boy lying on the grass

Great Dates for Couples on a Tight Budget

Wallet a little thin this Valentine season? That shouldn’t mean you cancel all dates until things begin to look up in the finance department. The solution is to get creative, to find reasonable and fun alternatives that require only pocket change and the right attitude—or with any luck, some that are absolutely free.

A boy lying on the grass

9 ideas to get your creativity going

Volunteer together

Find a local charity that meets the needs of some area of life you are passionate about, such as a soup kitchen or pet shelter. Volunteer for the day—together!

Free day

Most art galleries and museums have a free day or hours each month or have gone to a “pay as you wish” policy. Here’s an example: Los Angeles County Museum of Art is free after 3pm Monday-Friday for L.A. County residents; also free on the second Tuesday of each month. Also in Los Angeles, The Getty Center is always free. Check those in your area.

Karaoke

Just hear me out. Karaoke is guaranteed to be a fun night, even if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Let your hair down, spring for a few drinks and have a ball.

Stargaze

When is the last time you lay down on a blanket and stared at the stars? Grab some hot chocolate, warm blankets, and your best gal or guy, then try to find your favorite constellations. If you need some guidance, you can download apps like Star Tracker (Google/Apple).

Walk

Seriously. Whether it’s in a park, downtown or along a waterfront, walking is such a good way to open up and just have a great talk. Actually, you won’t find a better activity to get to know one another. And you’ll get a little exercise to boot.

Hike

If you live in Colorado as I do, you already know the meaning of hiking! There is no end to the number of hikes available—all for free. All you really have to pay for is gas to get there and a few snacks and bottles of water for the journey. Don’t know of any hiking trails near you? Do this: Google the name of your city and state plus the word “tourist.” You’ll be amazed by how many things there are to do, some of which you may not even be aware of.

Photography tour

Grab your digital cameras or camera phones and take off. Just wander around and take pictures—of each other, surroundings and so on. Open your eyes to really see and record all of the beauty that surrounds you.

Hit the books

Whether a glorious central library downtown, a cozy regional branch or bookstore, spend a few hours browsing. Talk about your favorite books. Browse the art and photography books and point out what each of you likes. You can be as corny or intellectual as you like. Grab a coffee then sit to chat.

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