Infladating: How To Save Money In The World of Romance

March 27, 2023

Let’s face it. Dating is hard. 

There are the awkward first kisses, the what-are-we conversations, the outfit selections, and the inevitable I-just-paid-$100-dollars-on-a-date-with-someone-I-didn’t-like-that-much. And those last ones? They’re the worst.

Dating can be expensive, especially with the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ consumer expenditure report revealing that consumers increased spending across drinks, dinner, and entertainment from $5,​​762 in 2021 to $7,152 in 2022. And now, with mass inflation taking over in 2023, these numbers are only anticipated to increase even more. 

If the dating scene is breaking your bank, don’t let that stop you from finding love. Discover infladating, the dating mentality your wallet needs in 2023.

man and woman smiling in a sunflower field

What is Infladating?

Infladating was first coined by popular dating app, Plenty of Fish, stemming from its annual dating trend list—with more than 48% of single Millennials and Gen Zs indicating budget-friendly dates were a priority going into 2023. 

Not Just A Trend, But A Beneficial Dating Approach

Although infladating is most certainly budget-saving, it may have other benefits beyond savings alone. 

By going on cheaper, lower stakes dates, infladating can take the pressure off the date and let it unfold more organically and authentically. Not only does it provide better context for how your potential partner would interact in the day-to-day world (because most of life is not lived in a dinner and drinks scenario), but it also provides an easy out if the date isn’t going well. No need to politely wait for the check if the date is going poorly—with budget-friendly dates it’s easier to leave or stay as long as you want. 

Low-Cost & Free Date Ideas

If you’re unsure where to begin, consider starting with the following free and/or low-cost date ideas.

1. Picnics Are the New Dine & Drink

girl on a picnic blanket

Skip the bar and restaurant scene, and opt for an outdoor picnic instead. Not only are picnic dates incredibly romantic and relaxed, they’re more or less free. Designate one person for drinks/desserts and one for dinner, and nestle into a public park or garden. If you’re nervous about what to talk about, consider bringing cards or a game to pass the time. And, if the date goes well, you’ll never have to worry about an impatient waiter asking you to leave.  

2. Channel Your Inner Hallmark with a Volunteering Date

My mother always told me, if you want to know how a date will treat you, see how they treat others. A volunteering date does just that. You can find a local food pantry or garden work day to volunteer at, or take your date to a volunteer spot special to you. During the date, you’ll be able to see the altruistic side of your partner and can learn about the issues you both care about the most. 

3. Find Free Museums & Concerts Near You 

girl at a museum

During the summer, many cities and towns offer free concerts, museum days, and movie nights to give back to the local community. Check out your local community website  or visit your local library for signs and free museum passes. Whether you’re snuggled up watching an outdoor movie or dancing at a concert, these are easy ways to build memories with a new or long-term partner. 

4. Meet Cute with a Bookstore Date

boy at a bookstore

Quite possibly my favorite ‘infladating’ date is the bookstore date. Grab some coffees and spend your time perusing the shelves of your local bookstore, pointing out your favorite books and learning about the books that shaped your date’s life. A person’s favorite book can speak a thousand words about them and it’s an excellent way to get to know someone at a deeper level.

5. Plan A Hike

man and woman on top of a hike

As long as safety concerns aren’t an issue, a hike can be a fun and energizing way to get to know a romantic prospect better. A hiking date is best suited for a third or fourth date, and can strengthen your connection. Pick a semi-public hiking spot and set off for a day filled with talking and walking. 

6. Visit Your Local Farmer’s Market 

girl holding flowers at a farmers market

Not only are farmer’s markets a great way to support local businesses, it can also be a perfect walk-and-talk activity for a first or second date. Farmer’s markets usually abound in food stalls and coffee vendors, and you can also consolidate your weekly grocery shopping and dating life into one combined activity. 

7. Dinner Is Out, Coffee Dates Are In

girl and boy at coffee shop

Last but not least is the classic infladate date: the coffee date. Not only is a coffee date incredibly low stakes, but it’s the perfect first date that can be as long or as short as you like. Grab your coffee/tea and sit for as short as a few minutes or as long as a few hours for only a few dollars worth of coffee. 


While all these date ideas are meant to inspire affordable dating, the most important infladating date is to be upfront and honest with how you manage your money. While money conversations can be uncomfortable, a considerate date should be willing to accommodate your budgetary needs as a sign of respect to you and your spending habits. 

If a date is not willing to respect your budget boundaries, then consider this the number one rule of infladating: a person who does not respect your spending habits is not a match for you.

Also by Dana: How The Kibbe Body Type Test Changed My Sense Of Style

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Photo: Dana Drosdick

Dana Drosdick
Dana is a marketer living in Saratoga Springs, NY with a passion for all things related to stewardship, faith, wellness, and personal enrichment. Her work has been featured in various Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, The Odyssey Online, and The Banner Magazine. Follow her at @danadrosdick on Instagram for foodie trends, her latest book recommendations, and far too many photos of clementines.


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