When you are a college student operating on a relatively thin budget, Valentine’s Day can be a huge pain. From flowers to jewelry, from overpriced chocolates to candle-lit dinners, one 24 hour period is enough to clean out your bank account for the rest of the year. If you are struggling to balance your budget and your expectations, instead of digging through your pockets for nonexistent cash, check out The Phoenix’s list of low-to-no cost date ideas. Hopefully you will find some inspiration.
- Picnic on Parrish beach with the contents of your seven-dollar meal swipe at Essie’s.
Essie’s may be a rip-off, but that meal swipe window is essential, especially for those of us who forgot to get off the unlimited plan. Additionally, don’t let the cold weather stop you; multiple layers can counteract the cold perfectly! We have had enough relatively and frighteningly warm days, thanks to global warming, rendering winter picnics completely tolerable even if you want to let the layers come off.
- Go for a walk in the Crum. We have a gorgeous forest at our disposal rich with beautiful clearings, magnificent trees, and fresh air, all for the incredible price of zero dollars.
- Hang out in the computer science lab in the basement of Clothier. This one might sound odd, but bear with me. The door is usually open, so don’t worry if you aren’t in a C.S. class. The space is bright, newly renovated, and recently furnished with a plethora of comfortable, spinny chairs that are perfect for racing down the smooth exit ramps circling the room. Additionally, the white boards adorning the walls combined with the wide variety and endless supply of dry-erase markers in a wide variety of colors create the perfect opportunity for playing hangman or making some nice art with your special someone. Let those creative juices flow and romance will be sure to follow.
- Coffee Date. Nothing says romance like a nice cup of coffee. From Hobbs, to Dunkin Donuts, to Kohlberg, to Sci, Swarthmore has plenty of caffeine options. For those of you who — again — forgot to switch meal plans, Sharples coffee will do the job. A steamy cup of Peet’s and a quiet, second floor table for two sounds pretty ideal for any date situation.
- Go on a run. A little exercise never hurt anyone, and just one town over, in Springfield, there is a conveniently located CVS (aka the perfect place to pick up some reasonably priced chocolate!).
- Netflix and Chill. If you don’t feel like being creative and are looking for low-key entertainment, there is always Netflix. If you don’t have Netflix, you can just chill. Please note that The Phoenix does not support Project Free TV, as it causes viruses and is also illegal.
A final note: Although you might think picking a flower for your date from one of our myriad botanical gardens, I implore you to resist the urge. Break one branch off an endangered foliage specimen from our nationally-recognized arboretum and you could owe the college upwards of $500. If anything is the antithesis of a low-cost date, it’s that.