Many of these ideas could apply whether it's the first date or the 20th date. In fact, as fancy restaurant outings start to add up, finding inexpensive things to do gets more important as you go on. And of course, even married couples need to get out for a special date occasionally while managing a mortgage and family expenses. Meanwhile, the old standby dates, like going to the movie theater, are getting increasingly expensive.
Avoiding fancy dinners and overpriced movies doesn't mean sacrificing fun or culture. Creative date ideas can involve something as simple as going on a bike ride together and packing a picnic lunch to enjoy at a park.
But the most romantic and creative ideas will come from considering the other person's interests. Is she a sucker for Shakespeare? Take her to a Shakespeare in the Park or local community performance. Urban areas especially will offer ample opportunities for cheap tickets to community theater. Search online or through newspapers for announcements. If she enjoys antiques or finding used treasures, try an antique fair, a flea market or an estate sale.
And is he a sucker for battle history? Suggest an outing where you visit a battlefield together. Allow him to impress you with his extensive knowledge of the battle and time period. Strolling around historical landmarks and national or state parks should provide plenty of conversation topics. Museums and art galleries make for great dates, too, and many only require moderate entrance fees or a suggested donation.
A girl who's let a guy pay for the past few dates can offer to make dinner for the next date. Or a guy who's skilled in the kitchen can really impress a girl with his culinary prowess. Staying in and testing a new recipe together will be a nice change of pace from going out, anyway. Likewise, going to a friend's place for a house party can be a great way to meet the other person's friends -- which can tell you a lot about someone else.
The great thing is that budgeting your dates will probably force you to think about more interesting activities. In the end, it'll remind you that the important thing is not how much money you spend, but that you enjoy quality time together.