Dating on A Dime


By Cale Johnson

It’s Friday afternoon and Dustin Patterson has had a long week. He’s spent the last five days working on his capstone geography project, but his week of thinking isn’t over yet. Now he has to figure out where he’s going to take his girlfriend, Tati out this weekend.

Dustin and Tati are both students at the University of Kansas and both cry a little on the inside whenever they look at their bank accounts. They do, however, love each other and commit to going out for a date at least every couple weeks.

Whether it’s a first date with somebody you’re getting to know or a date with a partner you’ve been with for years, having quality together time is essential in a relationship. For college students who generally lack money and resources, that can certainly be a challenge.

“I think there’s a perspective that in order to have a good time you have to be willing to spend a lot of money,” says Elizabeth McWhorter, a relationship therapist in Olathe, Kansas.

Kids that have grown up through the digital age have probably learned a lot about dating from things like reality tv, which aren’t realistic, especially financially, she added.

If you’re willing to be creative there’s absolutely nothing wrong with dating inexpensively. In reality, efforts made this way will be more charming, genuine and likely to go a lot further on the thoughtfulness scale than throwing down a large amount of dough.

Creativity doesn’t come easy to everyone, so here is a list of date ideas at different price levels from KU students.


Double date with dogsFree – Alexa Barton  
On this date you and your partner simply head down to the local humane society and spend some time together playing with dogs that could use some love too. All you need to do is ask to volunteer and the staff will let you take the dogs out to walk or play fetch.

“Whenever my boyfriend and I do this together it’s good one-on-one time and we’re always in a good mood because of the dogs,” Barton says.

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Spin the compass$30 – Adam Long  
You and your date hop in the car and start driving, when you get to an intersection or exit you spin a needle and depending on where it points that’s where you have to go. To limit gas money, four to five spins is usually enough to get you somewhere interesting. Once you get to your random location go to dinner at the nearest place you see.

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Baking/cooking contest$30-40 – Ben Larmer  
Go out and buy ingredients for something you’ve never made before. Thenboth you and your partner make the same dish. When you each get done making it, mark the bottom of the plates and then mix them up so you don’t know whose is whose and decide which was better, then check afterward and eat them together.

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Arcade Olympics$40-50 – Marc DeJesus  
Head down to the nearest arcade and choose 10-15 different games. You and your date then compete against each other and come up with a prize for whoever wins the majority of them. The prize can be anything, like who gets to decide what movie to go to that night. If there isn’t an arcade nearby, you can do that date by playing various board games.

“It’s a good time if you’re a competitive couple,” says DeJesus.

Photography by Cale Johnson