20 Cheap Date Ideas for College Students on a Budget

20 Cheap Date Ideas for College Students on a Budget


The struggle is real when every last penny you own has to go towards paying for tuition, books, room and board, gas, notebooks, soap, and toilet cleaner. Like, seriously, I’m about to ask someone to slap me with a $200 textbook because I just spent my last $5 on toilet cleaner.

And if you think finding room in your budget for all of this isn’t already hard enough, you’re also going to need money if you want any sort of social life, not to mention a dating life. Right? Wrong! I have 20 dates for $20 or less to help you land that cutie from chem lab. With these super cute date ideas, you’ll be able to come in clutch and be quite the catch…whether your wallet is thin or not.

1. Picnic

Bring a Frisbee, some PB&Js (or leftover pizza), a blanket, and some tunes, and spend the day talking, relaxing, and soaking up the sun. I did this with my boyfriend for our second date. Still to this day it’s probably my favorite date we’ve been on.

2. Game Night

Get cribbage, card games, checkers, or Monopoly. You could even make it a double or triple date and invite some other friends or couples to play Cards Against Humanity or Truth or Dare with. Buying a game is a one-time cost that can payoff in dozens of dates.

3. Movie Night

Netflix is a classic. Throw down some blankets and pillows, make some popcorn, and maybe spend a dollar on your date’s favorite candy bar as a special little treat. To bring it to the next level, dig out your Christmas lights and build a fort with your date before you watch your featured film.

4. Bowling

I know this might be cheating a little bit on the $20 budget, but if you’re able to SPARE a few bucks, hit the lanes late on a Friday or Saturday night when your local bowling alley is doing their “all you can bowl” special. If you each pay your own way, you can bowl the night away! Just make sure you don’t STRIKE out with your date.

5. Thrift Challenge

With a budget of $15 or $20 each, find the coolest gift for your date, or see who can put together the best outfit. The winner gets to pick the movie for later.

6. Ice Cream

You could grab 49-cent cones from McDonald’s, or go a little bit fancier by running by your local ice cream shop. It doesn’t matter. The only thing that really matters is that you hold hands and enjoy a sweet treat together.

7. Wal-Mart Scavenger Hunt

Make a list of 10 items and see who can find all 10 first. One person starts from the bottom of the list, and the other starts at the top so there’s no cheating. For more fun, bring friends and go in teams.

8. Karaoke

Show off your singing skills, and have a good laugh. (If you’re legal, it might help to have a drink with your date first, TBH.)

9. Story Date

Read your favorite books and stories to each other. Do some scary stories and cuddle close, or read a good novel, and split it up over a few dates!

10. Hiking Date

Find a trail or a local park, and go on a little adventure on a nice sunny day. Maybe even incorporate a picnic into your day for the ultimate date.

11. Miniature Golf

Putt your way into your date’s heart, and maybe show off your competitive side on the mini golf course. Who knows, your date could be a total hole in one!

12. Water Balloon Fight

A pack of water balloons only costs about $3, so this is definitely an affordable way to cool off when going to the pool is out of the question.

13. Photo Date

Get dressed up, and do a photo shoot. Find some cute locations, and bring a friend to snap some pics.

14. Messy Twister

Old clothes, colorful paint, and a twister board can make a fun date. I must note that a cute picture of the aftermath is necessary.

15. Baking

Don’t forget to eat some batter and throw little flour as you bake a sweet treat or confectionary masterpiece. Music is optional, but stuffing your face once your creation is out of the oven is not.

16. Sports Game

Either go watch a home game on campus, or go to your local gym or park and play a game of one-on-one. You’d be surprised how flirty things can get!

17. Sledding

A plastic sled from Wal-Mart costs five bucks. Laughing together with someone you care about is priceless.

18. Ice skating

For just a few dollars per person, you can laugh at each other as you stumble (romantically!) around the skating rink.

19. Hide and go seek in Target or Wal-Mart

Bring some friends, make it a double or triple date, and don’t get caught.

20. Stargazing

No summer is complete without lying in the grass, or in the bed of a truck with blankets looking at the stars. S’mores and a miniature bonfire are encouraged, too!

Related: 35 Date Ideas for Broke College Students



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