Having Fun Doesn’t Cost A Ton

So you found a date for Friday night. You also happen to be extremely short on cash for the month. The question remains, where can you head for your date but not break the budget? It turns out that many things around Ames and even the Des Moines area can be pretty inexpensive – even free.

Let’s stay here on campus to get some creative juices flowing. Reiman Gardens is an indoor and outdoor garden equipped with a rose garden, butterfly wing and gift shop. It’s located just southwest of Jack Trice Stadium, so even if you don’t have a car, you could walk right from your dorm or apartment.

If it’s chilly, why not bring along a thermos of hot cocoa for the trip? The garden is one of the largest in the state of Iowa, and the best part is, if you and your date bring your ISUCards, it’s free.

Movies are one of the more popular dates, but let’s utilize the resources around us, shall we? Free Friday Flicks is a group on campus that shows movies on Friday nights in the Design Building.

Movie nights at home are a great way to spend time together without breaking the back at the theatre.

The Student Union Board also shows movies on Thursday and Sunday nights in the Memorial Union. These groups both show movies that you won’t be able to catch in the theater anymore, but also aren’t out on DVD or Blu-Ray. The movies are free to students, and you won’t need to worry about sneaking in candy and soda from the convenience store.

You can also make your life easier by taking a tip from ISU student Chelsea Benson. “You could buy a bottle of Wild Vines wine. It’s about $4 a bottle at HyVee and it’s delicious. You could mix this with [a Redbox] movie and maybe even get a couple of cheap TV dinners to eat, and you’ve got yourself a nice cozy date night at home with all of the essentials,” Benson says.

If you’re feeling like spending the day with that special someone and have access to a car, Des Moines is just a quick ride south, and it offers a lot of great date spots. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park is a recent addition to the downtown area. The four-acre piece of land in Western Gateway Park is now home to twenty-four sculptures worth about $40 million.

Rock-climbing is a great out-of-the-box date idea.

Picnicking is allowed, so take some grub and enjoy a day in the city. If you are willing to spend a bit of extra cash, the Des Moines Civic Center is nearby. Check Craigslist to save some money on the tickets.

For the adventurous couple, maybe you’ve covered all the basics and are ready for a new idea. Head over to the rec and sign up for the 1,100 square foot rock climbing wall. Climbing is free for all current students, so again, be sure to bring your ISUCard.

The only expense may be a few extra bucks if you and your date want to get into full-on climbing gear with shoes and a chalk bag. This makes for a great date for the sports and activity-loving duo, and hey, you’re getting your workout in at the same time.

This same type of couple may have an outdoorsy side as well. So, pack up the old tent, sleeping bags, some wine and some snacks and head out to the nearest campsite. Getting a lot for a tent is very inexpensive, and it can serve as a mini-vacation.

Try to leave the smart phones and laptops back home so you can spend some time relaxing without worrying about work and school. The time away will hopefully leave you feeling ready for the daily grind that’s ahead of you.

Then, you can try out another idea next weekend. Bringing along the same date to enjoy the activity with, however, is not required.

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