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Not to scare you, bestie, but high inflation is a thing, and it’s happening right now. Inflation is essentially a rise in prices — and while some inflation from time to time is normal, other times, prices can spike dramatically and quickly, causing unexpected economic burdens. Inflation in the United States accelerated to a 9.1% annual rate in June — which is its fastest pace since 1981. If you haven’t already noticed, gas prices are continuing to rise across the country, as well as food, household items, and even the cost of date night with your significant other or BFFs. The other day, I spent $18 on a cocktail. $18! 

So, as an already broke college student or twentysomething, what is there to do when it comes to date night and high inflation?

Don’t fret! High inflation doesn’t mean you have to skimp out on your next date with your partner or friend group. Keep reading for 20 cheap dates to go on during high inflation that won’t break the bank. 

Walk around your local park.

Make your next date a HGW and head to your local public park.

Go out for dessert.

If getting dinner isn’t in the budget, try going out for dessert at your favorite restaurant, ice cream spot, or local bakery! You can even split a big dessert with your bestie (pizookie, anyone?) to save a little extra cash. 

Visit an animal shelter.

Sure, maybe you can’t adopt a pet right now, but there’s no harm in looking! Lots of animal shelters even let you play with the animals (for free!), which can also be a great bonding experience for you and your partner. 

Have a picnic.

Picnics are one of the best cost-effective dates. Grab a picnic blanket, some good tunes, and your favorite snacks and drinks. 

Visit a museum.

While some museums can be expensive, lots of them have student discounts available or even free admission days! Search for museums in your area and check out their website for discounted prices.

Bake something.

Staying in and baking a treat with your partner is always the move. Try out a brand new recipe from scratch, or just get boxed brownie mix and call it a day. 

Binge watch your favorite show.

Vedge on the couch, pop some microwave popcorn, and prepare for a night of Netflix-ing and chilling. 

Go thrifting.

A thrifting or antiquing date? Sign me up!

Go window shopping.

Hey, I’m just looking, not buying! 

Try out a new local coffee shop.

Hang out at your local cafe and catch up with your besties over a cup of coffee (or an iced dirty chai latte, pick your poison). 

Browse a bookstore.

Similar to window shopping, the key word is browse here, not buy. Spend an hour or two walking around the store and browsing the shelves — and adding more books to your mental TBR, of course. 

Go on a hike.

If you and your partner are more outdoorsy, try going on a hike and enjoy the fresh air.  

Go to happy hour.

If you’re of age and on a budget, going to happy hour is the perfect cheap date night idea, since most restaurants have discounted prices on food and drinks.

Have a game night at home.

If you have a bit of a competitive streak, invite all your friends over and host a game night.

Watch the sunset or sunrise.

There’s nothing more romantic than watching the sunset — and, if you’re an early riser (couldn’t be me), get out of bed, make a couple of cups of to-go coffee, and watch the sunrise together.

Attend a concert in the park.

Many parks have concerts in the park, where local artists come and play music — and most of them are free!

Make at-home cocktails.

If going out for drinks is too expensive, try making cocktails (or mocktails!) at home. Search up a recipe and have fun with it.

Visit a botanical garden.

Walk around a botanical garden and have your own little Instagram photoshoot with your besties and the flowers.

Have a painting night.

Bob Ross who? Search YouTube for basic painting tutorials, grab some paint and canvases, and have a painting night with your friends. 

Cook a meal together.

Get in the kitchen, make a yummy meal, and enjoy a romantic dinner together. 

Zoë is a writer and recent graduate from Loyola Marymount University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in English. Formerly, she was an associate editor at Her Campus, where she covered Gen Z pop culture, beauty and style trends, and everything in between. When she's not writing or editing, Zoë can be found reading, sipping coffee, and exploring new places in California.