When it comes to dating, staying on budget can be a tricky balancing act. You want to make a good impression, but you don’t want to over-extend yourself financially to do it. The price of tickets to a game or show, along with dinner, drinks and parking can add up pretty quickly, leaving your wallet empty if you’re not careful. To avoid seeming cheap, the key is planning a budget friendly date night.
As with most budget-driven decisions, planning ahead is key. By being strategic about where you’re investing your cash, you can create an experience that you and your date will enjoy – without breaking the bank.
How to Plan a Budget Friendly Date Night – Without Seeming Cheap
I’m not going to beat around the bush here: tickets can be expensive, especially when you’re looking for premium seating. There’s no getting around that. However, ticket prices for many events do still run the gamut, and there are some bargains for a budget friendly date night depending on exactly what you’re looking for.
Are you going with a hardcore fan, or someone who’s just happy to be at a live event for the night? If it’s the latter, consider getting lawn seats for a concert or bleacher seats for a ballgame. For concerts in particular, I’ve found that the sound can often be a little better in open-area style lawn sections, and it also allows you to mix in some conversation with the music. I’m definitely a fan of exploring the cheap seats in certain situations!
Don’t want to compromise on seats? Purchasing your tickets as early as possible can help you save significantly.
Here’s another area where your spending options have almost no limits, so you’ll want to make your choices in the context of the overall date experience. Are you trying to fit in food and drinks before heading out to see a live show? Then it might be best to avoid the upscale steakhouse and instead seek out a local tapas joint or a place that specializes in small plates.
If you’re pressed for time, a full dinner can often be overkill – and it’s just not as enjoyable when you’re watching the clock throughout your meal. Consider an eatery that leans more on its broad selection of beers and/or wines to go along with a solid selection of appetizers. Luckily, small plates are trendy now – so you can save money without looking like you’re trying. For extra savings, find out which nearby restaurants offer nightly specials.
You could easily spend a big chunk of your budget on parking in some major cities, where a spot can go for $30 per hour or more. There’s definitely money to be saved in this area, but you’ve got to have a plan of attack or your date night could unravel before it begins. There are few things more frustrating than wasting time searching for a parking space.
This is where your smartphone can really help you out. A variety of apps are available to scout nearby parking locations in cities across the country, and many of them even let you compare prices. So, you can find that perfect bargain spot, know exactly how close it is to the venue or restaurant you’re going to, and even get turn-by-turn directions. And be sure to have some coins handy just in case you find one of those rare metered spots outside of the venue.
You’ve got some options to consider here too, depending on how far you’re traveling for your date. If you’re just going out in your own hometown, a ride-sharing service like Lyft or Uber can be a great option that will likely be cheaper than calling a traditional taxi.
If you’re going further than that, even a ride-share can start to get expensive. In these cases, think about taking a train into the city. Check the schedule for the closest commuter rail or Amtrak line that serves your destination, and see if you can make it work for your budget friendly date night. If you’re heading out after regular commuting hours these trains are often pretty quiet and make for a relaxing way to get to your destination while also having a conversation with your date.
With a bit of planning and preparation, you can have a memorable date night while still staying on budget. And if your date seems disappointed with the night you’ve carefully planned? They just may not be a good fit for you anyway.
As the founder and CEO of Event Tickets Center, Adam Young enjoys being able to help people find seats for live events that fit their budget and also provide a great experience. He has sat in everything from box seats to the uppermost decks at venues across the country.