Five cheap or free date ideas for couples on a budget this autumn

Dating and a tanking economy don’t quite go hand in hand.

With the majority of first dates consisting of buying overpriced drinks in bars or dropping more than your weekly food shop on a nice meal, it’s no surprise people are craving more casual (read: cheap) dates amid the cost of living crisis.

Research by Bumble last month found that 42% of single people now prefer modest date locations to avoid stress about the bill, with 21% of people making sure to set themselves a budget.

On top of this, 34% said they would suggest a free date activity.

But with wet and gloomy weather on the cards for the foreseeable, free dates are harder to come up with – you can’t exactly enjoy a picnic in the park when the rain is bouncing off the pavement. 

But fear not! We’ve rounded up five cheap (or free) autumn date ideas for anybody looking to get involved in cuffing season.

Go for an autumnal walk

Nothing says romance like autumn. Who isn’t a sucker for crunchy leaves, amber landscapes and big wooly scarves to keep you warm?

Nature isn’t only for the summer, and the best thing about going for a cosy autumnal walk is that it’s completely free, save for transport if you’re a city-dweller.

So get your big coat on, wrap up warm and appreciate the autumnal scenery. 

Grab a coffee

Coffee is good all year round, but even more so when the temperature suddenly drops five to 10 degrees in late september. 

Head to your favourite spot for a warming cappuccino or, if you want to push the boat out, go for a seasonal hot drink. Pumpkin spice, anyone?

If you don’t fancy braving the cold, you could also have an at-home coffee date where you make each other fancy drinks or create a ‘station’ featuring syrups, marshmallows, cream, and all the extras. Stick a film on and cuddle up.

Try the £5 present challenge

This idea was shared by our senior writer, Jess, and we have to give credit where credit’s due.

If you’re skint but looking for a new and fun date idea, try the £5 challenge. All you need to do is choose a shop, split up, and try to find each other the perfect gift for under £5.

Perfect if your main love language is gift giving – plus you’ll end up trying new foods and products, or get a few keepsakes in the process.

Get cosy and have a film marathon

When the house is freezing and you can hear the sound of the rain hitting your window, getting out of bed is never the preferred option. 

Cuddling up in bed, or on the couch, with bed socks, a big duvet and a bowl of popcorn is infinitely comfier than going to the cinema – and much cheaper.

Make a night of it to give it a ‘date night’ feel; watch something you’ve never seen before, go big on snacks and drinks, or even dress up with a theme based around the movie.

Bake something sweet together

There’s no better time than autumn to get your apron on and rolling pin out = especially given it’s GBBO season too.

You can usually bake just about anything with the ingredients you already have in your cupboard, or you can buy a cheap cake mix to make things easy.

If your food budget is extra tight, check the Olio food sharing app to see what you can bag for free (both members of the public and businesses use it to give away surplus ingredients). Alternatively, Too Good To Go offers discounted food from retailers including Morrison’s, Aldi, and Greggs.

The best part? You get it eat it all afterwards.

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