When money’s tight and schedules get hectic, it’s easy to let romance slide. It’s also tough to find ways to carve out the cash when you’re single and dating new people on a fairly regular basis. You don’t want to look cheap, but forking over a hundred bucks per date a couple of times each week can have you spending the equivalent of a second mortgage. Definitely a no-no for the dating on a dime crowd. Here are some of my favorite romantic dates that also happen to be really affordable.

Take a hike:

My favorite kind of hike has some sort of activity waiting at the destination, whether it’s a waterfall, scenic lookout, or even a lighthouse at the end of an urban stroll. It isn’t the jungle or forest that’s necessary (although I love a good autumn hike with brisk weather), it’s having something to do or see at the midpoint before you turn around to hike back. That gives you a topic of conversation on the way there, an actual planned activity, and time during the middle of the date to lounge, swim and generally connect or get to know each other.

Wine tasting:

The Date

Pick a winery that requires a scenic drive to get to, and head out after lunch or brunch. You’ll have time to enjoy the tasting and pick out a wine for dinner that evening. Hit the farmers market on the way home to pick up meal prep supplies that will pair nicely with the wine you’ve chosen. This is a nice full-day date that definitely brings style to the romance table without breaking the bank.

Annual passes:

My husband and I are working on our twelfth year of marriage and we still use this strategy. Bonus? It also works great for the single folks who need to constantly have a repertoire of interesting dates at the ready. Annual passes to places like the zoo, museum, and area theme parks provide an entire year’s worth of entertainment for less than most people pay for a movie and a nice dinner out. While we still enjoy those types of evenings, it’s nice to have a pocketful of fun options when boredom strikes during a budget-sensitive month.

Camping:

While family camping is certainly a great way to have fun with the kids, you can also use camping as a great romantic dating idea. If tents and mosquitoes would mean a little too much reality for your definition of romance, consider booking a remote mountain cabin near a stream. Your meal supplies could be brought along and enjoyed by the outdoor fireplace after a brisk swim. Natural getaways like this are perfect for reconnecting after a hectic career year, or taking a new relationship to the next level.

Dinner delivered:

While hauling out a coupon on a dinner date early in the relationship never goes well, picking up dinner for your date on the way to their place where you’ve planned to watch a few movies is a discreet way to work them in until the time is right to have those sort of money-saving conversations.  Got a coupon good for BOGO breakfast sandwiches? Simply show up for your morning hiking date with the first meal of the day taken care of. If you’ve got a certificate for $5 off an entrée from your favorite restaurant chain, pick it up curbside on your way. Even when you get to the point where these things are out in the open, it’s a great way to save money on extras like a bar tab and still not have to cook for the evening.

Romance doesn’t have to make you really broke. Finding ways to date on a dime are possible, and can be quite stylish as well.

What are your favorite tips for keeping romance affordable?