Tyler Vendetti - The Penny Hoarder

Dating is hard, especially when you’re trying to live on a budget. When even the cheapest dinner can cost upward of $25, going out on the weekends can seem daunting.

If you want to hang out with your significant other without draining both of your bank accounts and you don’t want to settle for another night of watching Netflix on the couch, why not try some of these creative cheap date ideas?

1. Go Geocaching

Geocaching is a modern-day form of treasure hunting. Identify your location on your phone or geocaching device, choose a “package” to search for, and follow the clues to try to find it.

It’s a great bonding activity, and it forces you to work together to find the object. Once you do, you can both put your names on the little notebook inside the capsule and commemorate your first date forever.

2. Attend a Trivia Night at Your Local Bar

Trivia nights usually charge a $5 or $10 cover charge, but anything after that is up to you. Eat beforehand, order some sodas, or take advantage of drink specials, and team up to answer some quiz questions.

And who knows? If you’re good enough, you may even win a free pitcher of your drink of choice or a prize. Simply search “bar trivia night” and your neighborhood or city, and see what comes up!

3. Break Out Some Conversation Cards

For introverts, conversation cards are a blessing. Not only do they immediately help break the ice, but they usher everyone out of the dreaded small talk zone.

Here are some brands to choose from: Table Topics, 101 Conversation Starters, Mindy Kaling’s Questions I Ask When I Want To Talk About Myself Set.

4. Embark on a Photo Walk

I know this sounds like code for “nature walk,” but let me explain. You can find plenty of photo challenges online to print out and do with the other person.

Maybe you can make a competition out of it and raise the stakes: Winner buys dinner or gets to choose the movie on your next Netflix night.

5. Attend a Poetry Slam or Comedy Show

I’m aware we’re no longer living in the ’90s, but poetry slams have been making a comeback in many cities, and comedy shows never left.

These events typically cost around $5 to $10, depending on where you live. Some can even be free, and you’ll have plenty to talk about when the show’s over.

6. Build a Kite and Fly It Outside

What better way to test your compatibility than by trying to master the “art” of arts and crafts?

This particular exercise is the perfect combination of indoor and outdoor activities, plus a great chance to work together.

7. Play Some Good Old-Fashioned Pool

Don’t underestimate how charming a dive bar can be, especially when it comes with a nice pool table.

A game of billiards provides the perfect opportunity to casually chat about your day, but it also involves an element of competition that will keep your date on his or her toes.

8. Re-Enact Scenes From Your Favorite Movies and TV Shows

Have you ever wanted to stroll along the same snowy path in Central Park that Buddy took in Elf? Or maybe twirl around in front of the Rockefeller Center statue like Liz Lemon in 30 Rock?

Either way, if you live in or near big Hollywood hubs like NYC or LA, why not print out a few screenshots from your favorite films and try to re-create them?

You can even reproduce your favorite “date” episodes. (Katz’s Delicatessen in NY is a good start if you want to have what your neighbor is having.)

9. Pick Out Crazy Outfits for Each Other to Try On

There’s nothing more satisfying than finding a ridiculous outfit at the mall… except for convincing your friend or partner to try it on.

Every clothing store has its fair share of quirky outfits. Give them a little time in the spotlight by putting on an impromptu fashion show and modeling the outfits with your partner for laughs.

10. Buy Paint Supplies and See Who Can Make the Wackiest Art

Not everyone can be Picasso, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Take a trip to an arts and crafts store -- or even a thrift shop or dollar store if you want to make it even cheaper. Embrace your creative side and see who can paint the weirdest picture. Who knows? You might give Dali a run for his money.

11. Wander, On Purpose

Not all those who wander are lost. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a walk around your neighborhood or, even better, one you’ve never been to before.

You and your partner can indulge in the sense of mystery, and maybe even stumble upon an unexpected opportunity, like a community event or hole-in-the-wall restaurant, giving you future cheap date ideas.

12. Enjoy a Meal or Treat in Character

Everyone says the key to dating successfully is to “be yourself,” but that doesn’t always have to be the case.

Turn your next dinner table into a stage and try your hand at role-playing as your favorite dynamic duo from film or literature. Maybe you’ve always wanted to know what it felt like to be Holden Caulfield for a day or David Copperfield. Now’s your chance!

Hit a local restaurant or fro-yo place and stay in character as long as possible. The first person to slip up pays for your food!

13. People-Watch

Is the stranger walking ahead of you a secret agent on the way to his next mission? Or an accountant who wore a suit to work in an attempt to spice up his normal routine? You decide!

Find a bench in a hip part of town and speculate the lives of passers-by. May the reward go to whoever concocts the best tale.

14. Take Advantage of Late-Night Specials at Indoor Trampoline Parks

Indoor trampoline parks are, excuse the pun, springing up all over the place. Many places offer late-night deals for the over-18 crowd that often include food and drinks. This is one of those cheap date ideas that’s enough to make you want to jump for joy.

15. Go to the Library

You’d be surprised how many odd books get published these days. Honor your inner bookworm and meander through the aisles of the nearest public library with your date.

Challenge each other to find the funniest book title or locate an obscure item the fastest. (Quietly, of course. Other people may be trying to read!)

16. Visit a Psychic

Is your relationship headed for success or a dead end? A psychic may not be able to tell you everything you want to know, but the visit will sure give you plenty to talk about on the way home.

17. Cook Something

You don’t need to go to an expensive restaurant to enjoy a luxurious meal. Skip the pricy entrees, and cook up some fun in your own home.

For an added pinch of romance, set up some candles and put on some soothing music. You’ll never want to eat out again.

18. Find a Board Game Cafe

Depending where you live, you may be able to go to one of these unique establishments with your partner.

Pay a low cover fee, and gain access to stacks of classic board games you and your date can play all night (or until your game of Boggle gets too heated to continue).

19. Engage in Some Friendly Public Debauchery

Who said truth or dare was just for middle schoolers? Test the limits of your bravery by challenging each other to embarrassing feats in public.

For example, get a stranger to high-five you. Photobomb a tourist group selfie. Dance on a bench until someone else joins in.

The more fearless you are, the more brownie points you get.

20. Play Some Old Video Games

A little bit of nostalgia never hurt anybody. Stay in and break out your favorite childhood console games. There’s nothing like a little Mortal Kombat or Mario Kart to level up your next date night.

21. Re-create Childhood Photos

One way to take baby steps in your relationship is to literally follow in your partner’s baby footsteps.

Find a bunch of childhood photos and help each other walk down memory lane by re-creating old snapshots. Fitting a bonnet onto your date’s head is the quickest way to become more comfortable with each other, in my opinion.

22. Attend a Silent Disco

Have you ever wanted to throw a wild dance party without being disruptive or bothering your neighbors with your loud music? Now you can. “Silent discos” are becoming more and more prominent, especially around college campuses.

After paying a small fee, you’re given headphones and digital playlists and directed to a place filled with other participating members. On the count of three, everyone hits play and suddenly hundreds of people start dancing in sync, in silence.

23. Attend a Lecture at a Nearby College

Students aren’t the only ones who can benefit from educational events on campus. Many universities offer public events like lectures or panels.

Research the schools in your area, and check their “campus calendars” to see what events they have planned!

24. Try to Replicate Pinterest Posts

Pinterest is full of adorable art and baked goods items -- many posted by people who will never make them.

On your next date night, challenge the status quo and attempt some of the quirky crafts and projects You may fail like these people, but that’s half the fun!

25. Learn a Dance From YouTube

Want to get active without heading outside? Search for fun dance routines on YouTube and dance the night away! Bonus: You’ll be ready to rock the dance floor on your next night out (or when you’re invited to nine weddings next year).

Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!

Tyler Vendetti hopes to win the lottery and lead a carefree life, or if that doesn’t pan out, work in television. When she’s not traversing the world or liking cat pictures on Facebook, Tyler can be found on Twitter @HeyThereFuture. You can also reach her via email (tyleravendetti@gmail.com), if you feel so inclined.

Breakups can sometimes feel like the end of the world. For many, the first step in getting over your ex is to get rid of every item that reminds you of the other person.

But rather than toss these items in the garbage, why not make the best out of a bad situation -- and make a little cash at the same time?

Not only could selling old gifts and clothes allow you to purge negative memories and bittersweet reminders, but it would also give these items a second life and prevent waste. While that tiny locket or stuffed lion may bring you unbearable pain, it could bring someone else joy.

How could you profit from the detritus of past relationships? First, we have to ask one question.

Is It OK to Sell Your Ex’s Stuff?

“It’s always important to get rid of your ex’s stuff because if you’ve got it hanging around, you’re still psychologically clinging onto the past,” psychologist Dr. Cheryl Fraser told The Huffington Post.

“By getting rid of it, you create space for now, either for the relationship you’re currently in, or to get into another relationship without hanging onto what used to be.”

So you’re ready to get rid of those old gifts and the stuff they left at your place -- but can you sell it?

While some people are inherently opposed to the idea, others think differently, depending on the item in question and the nature of the relationship. It also depends what it is -- is it your ex’s PlayStation? A necklace they gave you last Christmas? An old T-shirt you sleep in?

Consider any legal repercussions. Is the item very valuable? Does it belong to you or your ex? Do you own the item jointly, which would entitle your ex to part of the proceeds?

If items actually belong to your ex or to you both, you should check in with them first to see if they want anything back or have any preference as to what you do with it.

As Lifehacker Australia writer Chris Jager points out, “Once you sell something for money, it’s difficult to argue that it was worthless clutter that you wanted to get rid of.”

OK, so you’ve checked in with your ex and they don’t want anything back. What can you do?

1. Sell Your Stuff Online

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The internet offers more than one way to cash in on a broken heart.

For example, after Kelsey Maxwell divorced her husband of almost a decade, she sold her old wedding set online and made enough money to buy tickets to a Royals’ World Series game. “When people ask me how much I spent on those baseball tickets,” she explained, “I like to tell them ‘eight years of my life.’”

While sites like Craigslist, eBay and Amazon offer plenty of opportunities for selling goods, some sites cater specifically to the post-breakup market.

For example, on Never Liked It Anyway, which calls itself “the eBay for Break Ups,” the newly single can sell their items to supportive community members -- as long as they share their story first.

“It's cathartic commerce!” CEO Bella Acton explained in an email. “Our sellers have to say what they're selling, why they're selling it and their 'Bounce Back Plan'” -- how they’ll use their earnings to “feel fabulous again.”

Acton’s inspiration for the company came after a particularly bad breakup. “[After we broke up,] I started thinking about all these other things I had that I didn’t want any more [...] I started joking about a site that would let you offload your breakup baggage – I wanted to make it playful and positive and warm.”

Unlike eBay, which charges users to list certain items and limits the amount of time listings stay live, Never Liked It Anyway lets users post their unwanted jewelry or stuffed animals for free and for however long they want. Once an item sells, the site takes 6% of the listing price, as opposed to eBay’s 10% fee (up to a total of $750) plus PayPal fees.

2. Use an App to Sell Your Stuff

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If online selling doesn’t seem convenient enough, grab your phone -- there’s an app for that.

You can list your items in practically no time at all using apps like letgoGone, OfferUp and Decluttr. Make sure you enter PENNY10 when you're checking out on Decluttr to get an extra 10% for your trades.

Some of these apps let you sell directly to other users, while others buy your items and handle reselling themselves. For most, you’ll just need to snap a photo, upload it to a listing and wait for the offers to roll in. It’s as easy as one-two-sold!

3. Host a Massive Post-Breakup Yard Sale

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What better way to get rid of your ex’s trash than by turning it into someone else’s treasure?

While selling your items online may be easier and helps you reach more potential buyers, selling your goods at a yard sale can be much more immediate. A table filled with old necklaces and pen sets could sell in a single day at a yard sale, whereas it may take a few weeks online.

Physically handing your old keepsakes to another person also gives you some emotional satisfaction that shipping it off into the great unknown doesn’t offer.

Two months after author and teacher Sara Schmidt and her boyfriend of seven years broke up, he called to see if he could pick up some of his stuff.

“He ended up just taking a reclining chair and a few other things and said he didn't want the rest,” she explained. “I had a big garage sale and sold his things. There wasn't anything really worth a lot of money, but I made about $200.”

4. Repurpose and Sell It

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Maybe you acquired a collection of clothing that you no longer have any interest in wearing now that the relationship is over.

If you can’t find anyone to buy it in its current form, why not try fashioning it into something new? Rip up the memories that old sweatshirt holds and sew it into something worth having, like a quilt or a rug.

Sites like Etsy or Amazon Handmade are perfect platforms for selling your handcrafted goods. Who knows? Maybe a breakup was just the incentive you needed to start your online DIY pop-up shop.

5. Take the Items to a Pawn or Consignment Shop

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If you don’t want to go through the hassle of organizing a yard sale or creating online ads, you can always cash in your goods the old-fashioned way: by going to a consignment shop.

Many consignment and pawn shops will allow you to exchange your goods for cash right at the counter. Though you may not get much, something is better than nothing, and this is the quickest method for earning money from something that’s sucking up all of your emotional energy by simply existing in your home.

6. Donate It for a Tax Deduction

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If you can’t bring yourself to sell the items, or you don’t want to have to sort through the pile (and the memories), consider donating items to a local nonprofit organization or charity-run thrift store.

Clothing, shoes, books, electronics and other items in good, working, usable condition can go to new homes where they’ll be valued, a charitable organization will earn some funds, and you’ll be able to deduct the items’ value from your taxes next year. Win-win!

Your Turn: Have you sold any of your ex’s stuff? If so, what did you sell and what did you do with the cash?

Disclosure: What would Abe do? Probably pat us on the back for placing affiliate links in this post. Thanks for helping us fill The Penny Hoarder’s beer fridge!

Tyler Vendetti is a recent college graduate who hopes to win the lottery and lead a carefree life, or if that doesn’t pan out, work in television. When she’s not traversing the world or liking cat pictures on Facebook, Tyler can be found on Twitter @HeyThereFuture. You can also reach her via email (tyleravendetti@gmail.com), if you feel so inclined.

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. That’s true. But how much that trash is worth varies depending where you sell it.

While some things -- like your tattered copy of Catcher in the Rye or your old Indiana Jones DVD collection -- may sell quickly at your garage sale, other items would fare better on the Internet than on a rickety plastic table in your front yard.

Here’s a look at what you should sell online, rather than at your next garage sale (or anywhere else).

1. Textbooks

I took four English classes my junior year to satisfy requirements for my major. Each course required me to buy 10 or more books, and I racked up a bill that felt almost as high as my tuition.

At the end of the school year, I tried to make some of the cash back by selling the books to the campus bookstore -- and I was only offered a few dollars.

I thought about selling my books at a yard sale, but with specific editions for different classes, finding a buyer would be a nightmare. You’ll find a much larger market for your Psychology 101 textbook online than in your local neighborhood.

Consider posting your books on Craigslist, in a student-focused Facebook group or on eBay to find another student who needs them. Or you could try one of these textbook-buying sites.

2. Furniture

If you live in or near a big city, you can be sure that there are at least a dozen new transplants desperately scouring the web for specific furniture items. And when they want a specific item, like the perfect “15-by-15 black kitchen table with rounded edges,” they’re usually willing to pay a bit more for it.

No more putting your wardrobe out on the lawn and hoping that the right person drives by. Head to Craigslist, type in the necessary keywords and wait for the buyers to come to you.

3. Electronics

Let’s face it: Nobody is going to buy an old iPhone with shards of glass dangling off of the cracked screen at your yard sale.

But that doesn’t mean you should toss it in the trash or let it wither away in your junk drawer.

Companies like USell and Nextworth will pay cash for your old cell phones and accessories. If you want a gift card instead, Amazon and Best Buy both have trade-in programs for your unwanted electronics.

4. Collectible Antiques

One morning, my friend stumbled upon a large, antique Coca-Cola bottle at a yard sale.

After trying (and failing) to haggle with the owner, who demanded $20 for the bottle, he left... only to return 20 minutes later after a little online research showed him it was worth more than $200.

The moral of the story? Google your knickknacks so you know what they’re worth. That way, you can sell your old Beanie Babies and GI Joes for the most money.

5. Designer Purses

The purse business is fickle. Just when you’ve grown comfortable with one purse, the market changes, “forcing” you to swap out a “spring” purse for a “fall” purse and amass a mountain of hardly used designer bags.

Rather than shove them all into one pile at a yard sale and call it a day, why not try to sell them online?

You’d be surprised at how many people collect designer bags or lust after a particular model. Instead of tossing them in a box at a yard sale, list them on Tradesy or another consignment site.

6. Coins

My grandmother is a yard sale guru.

Every Saturday, she leaves the house at the crack of dawn with her yard sale listings and her fanny pack of “tools,” including a small magnet she uses to test if certain coins are real or fake, a little trick that helps her earn about $50 a trip.

Many sellers empty their coin collections into a bowl and name a set price without considering the value of each piece, which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Rare coins can carry high price tags, earning sellers up to $1,000 per item.

If you find yourself with a bucket of change hanging around, don’t be so quick to throw it on your front porch where market-savvy grandmas can snatch it up for cheap. Do your research and sell it online -- you never know what’s in your wallet until you check.

Your Turn: Are you guilty of selling any of these items at a yard sale? Will you sell online next time?

Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!

Tyler Vendetti is a recent college graduate who hopes to win the lottery and lead a carefree life, or if that doesn’t pan out, work in television. When she’s not traversing the world or liking cat pictures on Facebook, Tyler can be found on Twitter @HeyThereFuture. You can also reach her via email (tyleravendetti@gmail.com), if you feel so inclined.

During my second semester of junior year, I decided to study abroad in the coastal town of Brighton, England. Having never been away from home for longer than three weeks, the prospect of climbing into an airplane and traveling 3,200 miles to live with a bunch of strangers for a few months was both exciting and terrifying.

Part of my trepidation stemmed from the collection of horror stories I’d heard about the exorbitant costs of living abroad. While England was the perfect fit for me academically, financially, it posed a huge problem. As a third year college student with loans already piling up, I was petrified of the British pound and its unfavorable exchange rate.

To make matters worse, I had secured an out-of-state internship in New York that summer, meaning I would not only have to budget for the spring, but also for a few months afterwards. For this reason, I was forced to develop some unique survival skills to avoid arriving back on campus in the fall completely and utterly bankrupt. Here’s how I stretched my bare-bones student budget while living abroad, and how you can do the same.

1. Freeze Your Groceries

As many Europeans are quick to point out, their food contains fewer preservatives than food in the United States. While this practice certainly helps to promote a healthier lifestyle by limiting the number of chemicals you pump into your system, it can also prove to be terribly inconvenient, especially when you come home to find your loaf of bread covered in mold just two days after you bought it.

Three weeks and five wasted loaves of bread later, I decided that I needed a new strategy, one that would allow me to enjoy my favorite foods without breaking the bank every week. I began freezing my grocery items, shoving everything from bread to berries to chicken fingers in the ice box in hopes of saving a few extra bucks.

My plan turned out to be surprisingly effective. By storing my groceries in the freezer, I managed to extend their shelf lives by a few weeks.

2. Bring a Calculator to the Grocery Store

I’d never before spent my Sunday mornings cutting out coupons from the local newspaper and planning my weekly expenditures, but with food prices in the U.K. being almost double those in the U.S., that’s exactly what I found myself doing during my five months away from home.

After setting a strict $30 weekly food budget for myself, I set out for Sainsbury’s with a grocery list and a calculator in hand. By sticking to store-brand foods and scouring the aisles for the cheapest prices, I managed to keep my food costs low. Having a calculator on hand helped me stay within my budget and calculate the exchange rate. It also helped curb my impulsive purchases, though I did allow myself one “cheat” product every week, an item outside my regular diet that was a little pricier than the rest.

3. Skip the Plane or Train and Take the Bus

Whether my fondness for buses originated from their affordability or whether it developed on its own, I have no idea. It’s kind of a “chicken-or-egg” situation. What I do know is that, compared to planes and trains, buses in Europe are incredibly inexpensive. A roundtrip bus ride from London to Edinburgh can be hundreds of dollars cheaper than the corresponding train or plane ticket to the same place.

Towards the end of my stay abroad, for example, I took a 15-hour overnight bus ride from Munich to Paris, not only because it provided the opportunity to see the German countryside (that was a nice bonus) but also because the tickets were three times less expensive than a plane ticket for the same journey. Plus, many bus lines offer special “loyalty programs” that allow you to get discounts or free rides after a certain number of trips.

4. Choose Your Priorities

Before you embark on your trip abroad, it’s important to identify what your main travel priorities are. Personally, I’m not a big foodie, so I didn’t mind cutting back on grocery trips and eating cheap pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but not everyone shares my blasé attitude towards cuisine.

However, I love seeing new places and experiencing the thrill of physically moving from one place to another. Because I knew this going into my trip, I was able to budget my money to better accommodate my interests, reallocating the money I was saving on meals to new trips or activities. If you understand yourself and what makes you happiest before jumping into a long stay abroad, you’ll be able to adjust your spending accordingly and have a better travel experience.

5. Find a Backup Source of Income

One of the hardest parts about studying abroad is the employment limbo that comes with moving to a foreign country for a limited period of time. Visitor visas, which are generally issued to travelers staying in a country for six months or less, do not permit you to work abroad, forcing many exchange students to go without a source of income for their entire stay. Some students apply for long-term visas to avoid this problem, but the costs of obtaining these can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

One way to circumvent this issue is by finding an “under the table” or virtual source of income. Papering the local area with babysitting, au pair or tutoring ads can help you find a temporary side gig and offset some of the costs of living in a foreign country.

Those with a knack for writing, web design or other skills can also pick up freelance jobs online and work from virtually anywhere. Not only will freelancing give you something to do on your own 15-hour bus rides, but it will allow you to make a few bucks while you’re traveling, which sounds like a good deal in my book.

Your Turn: What are some unique ways you’ve been able to save money abroad?

Tyler Vendetti is a recent college graduate who hopes to win the lottery and lead a carefree life, or if that doesn’t pan out, work in television. When she’s not traversing the world or liking cat pictures on Facebook, Tyler can be found on Twitter @HeyThereFuture. You can also reach her via email (tyleravendetti@gmail.com), if you feel so inclined.