Fun dates on a university budget: Getting in your partner’s good books while paying for your own

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University has a way of making plans difficult, especially in the finance department. Unfortunately, a night or day out with your significant other often falls under the money category too, putting a serious stopper in treating your love to something special.

You can’t very well cancel dates altogether, so in order to save face—and gain a few bonus points for later on—take a look at the following “easy-on-the-wallet” suggestions for fun outings, or nights inside.

If the weather is chilly enough, grab your partner, bundle up and head to an outdoor rink. Rockwood Park has free skating on Lily Lake, weather-permitting of course. If it’s a little too mild to shred some ice safely, head over to one of Saint John’s many hockey arenas, such as the Stewart Hurley on the East side for a free or very inexpensive skate. This date is a guaranteed afternoon of handholding and falling into each other’s arms; it’s a winter favourite for sure.

If chilly fun isn’t your thing, ditch the skates, sleds and snow shoes for a sense of adventure. If you don’t mind wasting a little gas, hop in the car and go for a drive. Make up “road rules” like taking every left-hand turn you come across and see where you end up.

You could also go “haunted house” hunting; find the creepiest looking place that you can and if you’re brave enough – and there isn’t a “No Trespassing” sign nearby—get out of the car and explore it. First person to chicken out owes the other ice cream. Simple!

Music-loving couples could have some fun checking out unknown local bands. Their shows are almost always inexpensive. You never know, you could end up being the first fans of an international indie-rock sensation.

Living in a port-city, Saint Johners come into contact with a great deal of tourists in the run of a day. Hop on over to the dark side and run around uptown, pretending that you’ve arrived from Ontario, or on a cruise ship and take shots of everyday things.  “Ooh” and “Ahh” at silly free exhibits you’d normally pass by without thought. Ask people for directions—even if you know where the destination is—and ask them to take pictures of you.

Ten points for every person who asks you where you’re coming from. Put ten more onto the scoreboard if you lie and make up a hometown that doesn’t exist.

We live in an age where everyone has a gaming system in their house. Take a night off from studying and have a video game war. Ladies, if you aren’t talented in the first-person shooter category, ask your man to teach you how to play, or vice versa. You never know, you may end up kicking their butt ten games to three by the end of the night.

One word: Monopoly. If you and your partner aren’t into virtual competition, blow the dust off of your favourite board game, grab some munchies and give it a play. Trouble can turn into a vicious battle very quickly; Apples to Apples is good for hours of laughter. Test it out and see how long you can last before flipping the table in frustration.

If these ideas aren’t for you, take the traditional approach: dinner and a movie, home edition. Raid the kitchen cupboards, cook for each other and then pop in your favourite movie. Couch-cuddles are free and they’re usually a fan-favourite.

The possibilities for a cheap date are endless and the more creative you are, the better. Of course, in the end, sometimes it’s just enough to be hanging out together; you don’t need to be spontaneous and imaginative all the time. After all, nothing beats a simple walk in the woods.

Emily is in her fourth year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's a stern black coffee drinker and is a proud Acadienne. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find Emily listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation. If you ask her about parliamentary institutions, she won't stop talking.