Supplies Needed: $20 bill, 2 water bottles to stay hydrated, and a sense of adventure!
Constraints: Your date will need to be on a weekday and start at about noon.
Spend two hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: $1 each = $18 left. The suggested ticket price for adults is $20 and $10 for students. In any other circumstance, I would recommend paying the suggested price if you can afford to and are moved to do so. However, this all fits into my $20 date plan, so play along with me. The exhibitions at the Met are not only breathtaking and thought-provoking, they are great conversation starters. Rather than overwhelm yourselves with trying to see too much of the museum, each of you should choose one exhibit you want to experience with your date. You can learn a lot about what interests a person. Is he into Japanese photography? Is she inspired by Oceanic art? Are you both confused about why everyone's so into Impressionistic art? Insider tip: Water in plastic bottles is allowed at the Met. Bring your water bottle with you so you don't end up paying for some while at the museum!
Chicken Festival for a late lunch: 1 shared combo for $10 = $8 left. I have to admit that I have never eaten here, but this is the first place I would head after the museum if I was hungry and on a budget. According to the passionate rating community on Yelp, Chicken Festival's generous portions of succulent chicken, perfectly fried maduros, fluffy saffron rice, and mouth-watering beans are not to be missed. I wish I could dial up some delivery right now! As far as I can tell, they don't even have a website, so you know that means they are peddling pure, unadulterated deliciousness!
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Free wine tasting at Best Cellar's $0 = $8 left. The friendly wait staff at this chain of modestly-priced wine shops will shower you with their overwhelming knowledge of their selections and of wine in general. Note that the free wine tastings are daily Mon-Fri from 5-8 pm.
Wrapping it up like a pro by giving your date a parting gift. $6 for a bottle of Vinho Verde = $2 left. Commemorate your wonderful date by surprising your date with a bottle from Best Cellar's. Their vinho verde goes well with a lot of everyday (read: cheap and greasy) foods. Your date will be delighted to have a fun token from the date (or at least something they can re-gift at a later time).
Head home on the Subway $2 = $0 left. During your subway ride home, relish in the lovely date you had today for just a meager $20.
Your date was probably so impressed with the whirlwind of activities, they probably didn't even notice how little money you spent. Whether you're in a relationship or hanging out as friends, fun and adventure don't have to cost a fortune. Onward, recessionistas!
Kaneisha Grayson is a student at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School. You can find her dating, happiness, and career advice for Crazy Girls and the people who love us on her blog CrazyGirl Nation. She can be contacted via email at Kaneisha@gmail.com