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Feb 132013
 February 13, 2013  Posted by  Entertainment, Hot Deals, Valentine's Day

Budget dates can be better than those at fancy restaurants. The emphasis on relating and innovating rather than impressing creates a low-pressure situation that gives you a chance to build chemistry and develop memories. The following free or cheap date ideas are heavy on relating and light on the wallet.

People watch

Take up residence in a crowded place like a shopping mall or coffee shop, sit back and, as inconspicuously as possible, analyze passersby or those sitting nearby. Try to read lips and watch body language and then compare notes with your date. You’ll probably never know if you’re right about what’s going on, but hearing what each of you think is entertaining, and the sport is totally free.

Visit open houses

If there are new housing developments nearby featuring model homes, spend the day roaming through mansions, condos and everything in between. This enlightening activity shows new trends in home building and interior design, and you’ll probably walk away with some great free decorating ideas.

Browse an art gallery or museum

Art galleries require no admission and museum tickets are usually reasonably priced. Some museums also feature free admission on certain days of the week, for special occasions or if you qualify by age or membership in certain organizations.

Go to your local bookstore

Visit your local bookstore, get a cup of coffee or tea if it’s available, and look for your favorite books. Then trade with your date and see what he or she thinks of your taste in literature. You’ll discover what you both like to read and may find common interests.

Walk along the water

Water tends to soothe the nerves and encourages conversation to flow. If you live near water, whether it be the ocean, a lake or even a stream, walk and see where it takes you. Bring along a picnic or small snack and stop along the way to refuel and enjoy the view.

Hit the rink

Take a trip down memory lane or try something new and roller skate. It usually costs very little for admission and skate rentals, and this is a good way to discover if your date is adventurous.

What cheap date ideas have you found to be fun?

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Julie Bawden Davis

Julie Bawden-Davis is a freelance writer, editor, speaker and website publisher, who enjoys seeing how far she can stretch a dollar. She specializes in writing about personal finance and frugal living, home and garden and small business. Since 1985, her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Family Circle, Better Homes & Gardens, The Los Angeles Times, American Express Open Forum, MSN Money,, Credit and She is also editor of the bi-monthly Old Towne Orange Plaza Review. An avid gardener—an aspiration that attracts the frugal—Julie regularly speaks on the topic and publishes the website for indoor gardeners everywhere.

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