Prove your humanity

Dating has it’s issues at any stage, but sometimes it weighs on your wallet, especially after a couple of extravagant dates, movies, dinners, wines and dancing. I was in this exact situation about a year and a half ago, when my partner and I were both working less than twenty hours a week and went to University full time. To avoid sitting inside binging Netflix and watching other people’s snapchat stories, here’s are some ‘date night’ ideas that won’t hurt your bank account.

The Pop Stick date!

This image floats around the pinterest board of most people who love planning, and are sick of the, “what do you want to do?”, “I dunno, ummmmmm…” conversation, which usually ends up with Netflix. I’m always hearing great cheap date ideas, then forget what they are before the weekend, so this pop stick trick is a great idea to store all of your ideas in an easily accessible place. As soon as that old conversation cycle starts again, you’ll able to hit pause, get the jar and pull out your pop stick plan for the night. For this to work, you’ll need pop sticks (coloured for added organisation), a reliable pen, a jar, google, and a basic understanding of your budget for dates. For those of you with colours, I recommend having green be your cheapest colour ( e.g. walk my dog in the local park) then red be your most expensive (e.g. dinner at Rockpool). This can be a fun couples exercise too. Get sleep-over comfy, add pore strips and face masks, and get cosy in this brainstorming session.

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This works on several levels. You might even leave the night with free event tickets!

If you are feeling super left out from social events due because you’re bank account is suffering, don’t you worry. Some companies will allow people to volunteer in exchange for tickets to the festival/event in question. This works well for events such as Fringe, Ice-Cream Factory, Beauvine Beer and Wine Festival and The Perth International Arts Festival. These positions can usually be found on Gumtree, posted by managers looking for people to put wrist bands on people, stand and point people in the right direction, or count tickets. In exchange for your time, you’ll generally get two tickets (but make sure to ask), which makes it perfect for sussing out an event for a date night.

Free Sample Tour

In Perth’s far Eastern Suburbs there is an untapped well of wine tastings with cheese boards, beer palate plates, coffee shops with free espressos, and let’s not forget the Margaret River Chocolate Factory free sample bowls. This is a great excuse to get dressed up in your favourite clothes, pretend like you’re going to buy that $75 Pinot, and taste it three or four times before you decide that, “unfortunately there’s nothing in my made-up diet to pair it with”. The great thing about wineries and Breweries, is that they are usually grouped together, so you can try all the wines on one tasting menu, and then head to the next establishment to try theirs.

Testing out venues is a fun bonding experience, even if it’s only brief. Personally, I recommend hitting up the Swan Valley to get the full experience (… also chocolate). But be responsible, especially if you’re driving there. It is recommended that you only have five sample pours in an hour before driving.

Donate Blood!

Hear me out. Depending on what element of blood you’re donating (plasma, platelets, whole blood), you will have some time to talk (between six minutes, and two hours). Again this comes back to giving back to the community, doing it together (which strengthens your relationship), sharing an alternative experience, and perhaps understanding elements in your partner or yourself that you haven’t seen before. Also, at the end you get a tray of free food and an extra fifteen minutes to spend together before you head on your way. Though I was skeptical of this idea at first, both me and my partner had a great time donating full blood together at the central blood bank. If you’re interested in donating, find if you’re legible and your local blood bank through Red Cross.

Volunteering can give you both a mutual dopamine rush and gratitude boost. Venture out and consider other volunteering options such as op shops, transporting people with no access to cars, or Make a Wish, if blood donation isn’t for you. Find out more through the WA volunteering site.

Op shopping

Whether you are looking to revamp your style, or looking for an outfit for a themed party, op shops are a cheap and affordable place to go for a day. The best places are the clusters of op shops, so have a look at google maps and find one nearest to you (e.g. Scarborough, High Road). Maylands has a two storey Salvos, with an entire floor dedicated to furniture, books and homeware. It also has a specialised high class brands section, a workout wear section, and a shoe section that spans an entire wall. Around the corner is a Vinnies that regularly has the most amazing coat section. There is no limit to some of the stylish pieces you can find at Op Shops. For example, you can get your partner a red coat for Valentine’s day instead of red roses (the coat was $3 while the roses went for $50 a single rose), and a $5 wetsuit top for a stand-up paddle boarding experience

If the price isn’t enough to sway you towards this date idea, know that each item of clothing donated and re-worn is prolonged in life, which means one less piece of plastic/synthetic/chemically dyed material in landfill. That means less resources are invested in making first hand purchases. Jeans alone pollute up to 10 000 litres of water when they are first made, per pair. By buying second-hand you are protecting the ecology surrounding landfill, and preventing emissions from large companies and transport vehicles. Plus, you will look super chic and cute the next time you decide to go out.

Give the city a go

I’m not kidding. Around Perth city there are often art installations that can be followed for free! Just have a quick google to see what’s on. But even without the art, there is fun to be had by people watching as you walk through the city. A walk around the river has a fantastic view from almost every point and there are benches along the way to take it in. Elizabeth Quay looks great at sunset, often has free events, and you can take my sample tips and apply it to the fabulous gelato place on the shore. On the top of Yagan Square, you can even find cheap or free events such as live music and street performers.

At the end of a long night meandering through and around the city, I recommend buying a ticket to get on the ferry and riding it around the harbour. In the evening there are very few people travelling across the river and the likelihood is you will have most of the ferry to yourself to chat, look deeply into each other’s eyes, and maybe even sneak a kiss while the city skyline is in the background; like an Aussie version of a Sandra Bullock film. If you take the public transport route to Elizabeth Quay, this date night could cost you a total of $6.85 from the Northern Suburbs. If you’re on a budget, this is probably the best romantic option to take.


These few tips will get you started on a budget dating journey, and hopefully inspire more research into what can be done for a night for under $20 a head. Also, the Art Galleries (both PICA and AGWA) and the Museum have free entry for some exhibits, and writing letters to each other over the evening is a sweet past-time activity to do. Cheap dating is not as far-fetched as you might imagine. Without fail, as ideas start flowing, you will have more than enough things to fill up your time together as a couple.