10 cheap date ideas

Dating is good because you get to to meet new people and possibly have sex with them. But at what price? I have no qualms about spending money on girls I like but I've been on various dates with girls I have no particular affection for, and the cost adds up.

Plus there is an economy crunch or whatever it's called. So here are 10 ways to have fun with a new lover without breaking the bank...

Sporting contest

Give a competitive edge to your date and demand a duel in something like tennis, or chess, or Monopoly.

Pros: Games and sports are fun and you it's also a chance to show off a special talent. I, for example, was unbeaten at Monopoly between the ages of six and 23.
Cons: Some people don't like losing; could get ugly.
Cost: Under £5 each.

Make beautiful music together — literally. Or even terrible music — it doesn't really matter as long as you've got a hat (for the spare change, not to wear). Some guitar skills are normally required but not necessarily; I've seen guys make money out of keyboards, xylophones, even just whistling.

Pros: You can use the money you make to pay for your next date.
Cons: Rival buskers may attack you for being on their patch.
Cost: Free.

There are lots of leisure centres around where you can do lengths, have races or play splashing games — all of which are more fun with someone else.

Pros: A good way to check out your date's physique before committing to intercourse.
Cons: The possibility, however slight, of drowning.
Costs: Around £3.50 each.

[ See also: How many people should you date at once?]

Bird watching
A traditional country pursuit that gets you of the house and is an enjoyable introduction to winged wildlife.

Pros: At one with nature.
Cons: This is where Bill Oddie would take a woman.
Cost: Free

Cat watching

If there is no countryside or trees nearby, this alternative will work in the urban jungle. You can either see how many cats you can spot, or just follow one specific cat around.

Pros: You can stroke the cats.
Cons: I literally can't think of one.
Cost: Free.

In this age of BBC Three and Kentucky Fried Chicken, there are few things more impressive than someone who truly appreciates art.

Pros: Will make you look sophisticated.
Cons: You are a philistine (I know that because you are reading this blog).
Cost: Free, normally.

Taking a stroll is romantic, with relaxed chat punctuated by the sights and sounds of your surroundings. The key is choosing a nice walking location; don't just go to the High St.

Pros: Healthy.
Cons: Girls in high heels will not survive this date.
Cost: Free.

Meet the parents
It's difficult to gauge when is the best time to introduce a new lover to your folks although there is a good chance that when you do, the rents will at least pay for dinner.

Pros: A refreshing display of commitment, especially if you've only been on a couple of dates.
Cons: Your parents may talk during the date and ruin the sexy atmosphere.
Cost: Leave a few quid for a tip.

Special zoo
As mentioned in last week's column, the zoo is a great date option (LINK) but those penguins may be out of reach for a couple on a budget. Luckily, there are alternatives for animal lovers: the array of creatures on sale in pet shops are free to view, while the canine residents of Battersea dogs' home will be pleased to see you.

Pros: Animals are funny.
Cons: Your date may demand that you buy them a pet, which will cost more than a trip to the zoo and your plan will backfire.
Cost: Free.

10 alternative date ideas

My first expericence of a 'singles' night

After how many dates should you have sex with a man?

Looking for love? Find someone with Yahoo!