It’s nearly Valentine’s Day, which means it’s almost time to blow an entire paycheck on a dozen long-stem roses, a six-foot-tall teddy bear and a rare, perfectly aged bottle of Champagne.
And don’t forget to make a reservation for that fancy restaurant, which is only serving an overpriced “tasting menu” on that particular night!
Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to spring for a couple’s massage, too, right?
Wait, did someone mention a box of chocolates?
Well, the good news is you can forgo the romantic candles — at this point, your empty wallet is useless and you can just set fire to it and let the soft, warm glow of broke-ness wash over you and your date.
But it doesn’t have to be like that.
A Date Idea That Only Costs a Penny
In fact, if you’re in it for the long haul, finances can be a pretty touchy subject, and the last thing you need is to add another pricy line-item to your couple’s budget this month.
Luckily, there’s a way to take your sweetheart on a fun and interesting date — the likes of which they’ve probably never been on before — that won’t cost you more than, say, a penny.
(Which just so happens to be our favorite coin!)
The Penny Date Rules
Here’s how it works:
Find a penny. If you don’t have a penny handy, it’s just a matter of yanking the cushions off the couch, checking the cupholder of your car or sneaking one out of your kid’s piggy bank while they’re at school.
Have your date pick a number (without telling them what it’s for) or use an online random number generator. This number is the number of turns you’ll take throughout your date.
Hop in the car or, if you’re walking, pick a corner to start on.
To start the adventure, have your date flip the penny. If it lands heads up, turn right. If it lands tails up, turn left.
Start walking or driving in whichever direction the penny instructs. Stop and flip again each time you reach a stop sign, stop light or intersection.
Continue flipping the penny, turning left or right at each juncture, until you’ve reached the number you set at the beginning of the night.
Once you reach that number, stop the car (or, uh, your legs).
Wherever you are, that’s where your date will take place.
If you look up to find a park with a lovely, lit gazebo, good for you!
If all you happen to see before you is a gas station, I wish you the best of luck throwing a romantic spin on that one. Yikes.
But it’s all part of the adventure, right?
No, really. The fun of the penny date is in the mystery, the confusion and the downright ridiculousness of your time together. It’s a way to do something different, something that you wouldn’t have done ordinarily, and to have fun doing it.
Either way, it’s sure to be a memorable date, right?
A Few Notes to Help You Create the Perfect Penny Date
To keep costs low, pack a picnic meal to bring with you. That way, wherever you end up, you’ll have dinner ready to go.
You don’t have to be in a metropolitan area to make this date work, but you’ll want to adjust your number of turns based on your location. Thirty turns won’t take very long on city streets, but if you’re driving long back roads, 30 turns could take forever.
Even if there’s a stop sign or traffic light, don’t turn into a parking lot or street with no outlet. Just move along to the next intersection and flip the penny there.
Keep your adventurous spirit open to the experience. Chances are, you’re going to end up somewhere less than romantic (or maybe even downright weird), but it’s all part of the fun of a date night left totally up to chance.
More often than not, a penny date offers up a little nonsense, a lot of laughter and a couple of really great stories.
Besides, like any good relationship, a penny date is about the journey — not the destination.
Right? (No, left.)
Grace Schweizer is the SMS editor at The Penny Hoarder. Deputy editor Tiffany Wendeln Connors updated this post.