Let's face it, dating can be expensive—very expensive. 

Single people in the United States spend an average of nearly $1,600 a year on dating. Depending on which state you live in, that amount could be as much as $300 a month. We all want to treat someone special, especially on a first date, but spending so much money on someone you barely know could be a bit off-putting and turn you off of dating entirely over time.

Attractive Man Woman Couple Date Dating

The cost of dating shouldn't dissuade you from dating. In fact, we took a look at the cost of dating as a creative challenge to overcome and came up with these four ideas to save money on a date without looking cheap:

Go to happy hours

Who doesn't love a good Happy Hour?

Happy hours usually run at a restaurants and bars between 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. This timing makes happy hours the optimal meet-up spot for busy working professionals who don't have time to plan elaborate dates or have other responsibilities to attend to on weekends. During a happy hour, prices on appetizers and drinks can be as much as half off, and the bar might run specials for certain drinks.

Because happy hours have a time limit, there's a natural end point for your date in case you have other obligations that evening, or aren't into your date. Alternatively, if you are into your date, you can follow up the happy hour with a walk around the block.

Enjoy a short coffee date

If you're about to go on a first date with someone, instead of rolling out a red carpet, renting a limo, and going to a  fancy, expensive French restaurant in the city—only for your date to turn out to be a dud—consider just meeting up for coffee.

Coffee dates are cheap, quick, and help you get a good understanding of someone else without making a big commitment to in the evening. You can have them during the week, on the weekend, in the morning, in the afternoon, at a local cafe, or at the park. Since these are informal meetups, you also don't have to dress up and look as nice as you would on a traditional date.

Make dinner together

Why go out for dinner when you can stay in and make dinner together?

Cooking  together is a good, intimate idea because you won't have the distraction of other people, couples, servers, traffic, or anything else to interrupt your conversation.

In addition to staying home and cooking a meal together, you two can start the evening by planning your meal together beforehand and then go grocery shopping together. Grocery shopping gives you a physical activity to do together and makes your date together more interesting and intimate. Dates like this are less expensive than having to drive out to a restaurant, pay for parking and your meals, and tipping your server.

Go for a hike

Skip a traditional evening date and instead get to know one another better in the great outdoors.

One of the best aspects of a hiking date is the release of endorphins while you're exercising. These endorphins will help make both of you feel more relaxed and happier. You should keep in mind that your hike doesn't necessarily need to be up a mountain; you can do something as simple as sitting outside on a bench at nearby park, renting bikes and riding around your city, walking around a botanical garden, going fishing at a nearby lake,  or venturing to a nearby National Park during one of their free admission days.

An untraditional date like this also happens to be cheap. There's no need to buy anything, but if you to do get hungry, you can pack a snack to share or stop by a bakery for a light meal.

No need to look cheap

These date ideas help save you both money and time by combining activities you'd normally want to do, like walking around outside or grocery shopping. Just because dates used to be one thing doesn't mean they don't have to change, so feel free to get creative when dating. The person you're with will appreciate you doing something different for and with them.