Date Ideas for $20 or Less

Dating in college can be difficult for a variety of reasons. One barrier that students may face is lack of funds. It’s hard to get a job while being a full-time student and with the price of almost everything going up recently, going on a date can get a bit pricey. If you’ve just scored a date with your crush and are looking for more affordable options, here are some dating ideas for $20 or less.


Having a picnic with your date can be a cheaper option than going to a restaurant. Pack a few sandwiches and snacks and find a quiet, intimate place to eat to set the mood without breaking the bank.

You won’t have to deal with a noisy restaurant or run the risk of going to a restaurant where neither of you like the food. Going grocery shopping together can be an easy way to get to know your date and their food preferences and give you ideas of what they like if you plan to go on future dates.

If the weather isn’t cooperating, or it’s too dark outside for an enjoyable picnic experience, there’s no shame in choosing a dollar menu at a fast food joint. You can have an impromptu picnic in the car while driving back and forth playing your favorite songs.


After or in place of a picnic, stargazing can be a romantic and free option. Although DeKalb has some light pollution, if you enjoy a clear, cloudless night, many stars may still be visible.

If you have a car, drive north to Annie Glidden as you don’t have to go far to reach the big fields. There is much less light and you will be able to see more stars.

Buy a $1 lottery ticket

A unique idea for a cheap date is to enter a $1 lottery ticket together. It can go two ways. You can either earn money and spend the earnings on the date. If you don’t win anything, go somewhere else, like a thrift store or an estate sale, and discuss what the two of you would do if you won the jackpot. This could be a great conversation starter and can help you get to know your date better. Would they save him? Spend it? On what?

Lord Stanley and the Annex

If you’re both over 21, Lord Stanley’s and the Annex, 142 East Lincoln Highway, offers two pitchers of beer and a pizza for just $20. After thinking about what it would be like to be a millionaire, if you tried your luck with a lottery ticket, it might be fun to come back to reality and savor the fact that right now you two are just two college kids having fun at night in a small town bar.

game night

If you’d rather stay home, buy a board game together at There’s Fun In Store, 229 East Lincoln Highway. This game store offers a wide variety of board games. If you are looking for a game that is not typical like Monopoly or Scrabble, There’s Fun in Store has different escape games under $20. Seeing if you would be able to get away with your date can be an interesting bonding experience.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a date for it to be a good date. Thinking of something more personal and doing things that actually move the conversation along will work in your favor. Don’t let the lack of money in your bank account deter you from dating. Not to mention, do you really want to spend all your paycheck on someone you may never see again? Enjoy the little things and focus on your time together.

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