Editor’s note: This weekend, Campus Life decided to put reporter Carleigh Brower’s thriftiness to the test. The challenge: scout out cheap dates in Fairfield with a budget of $20 per date.

Couplehood in Fairfield can get pretty pricey, so I was skeptical that my boyfriend and I would actually find somewhere cheap to go besides Nutmeg Lanes. We all know there’s nothing sexy about bowling shoes, though, so we gave it a shot.

Friday night. We decided to give the Community Theater on Post Road a try. Amazingly, tickets are only $3, compared to $9 at Fairfield Cinemas. True, you can’t catch the newest releases, but popular box office titles eventually make it to the Community Theater, and for the price, it’s worth the wait. Plus, they usually show cool independent films that you probably wouldn’t see anywhere else. This past week, “The Italian Job” and “Bend it Like Beckham” were showing. The theater itself is nicer than you’d expect; it’s not stadium seating, but there’s ample room and comfortable chairs, so really, what more could you want? Popcorn, candy, and soda are relatively inexpensive too.

We topped off the night with a stop at Sunny Dae’s, which has the closest thing to gelato in America. And it’s cheap: we paid $5.41 for a sugar cone with a scoop of tartuffo and an M ‘ M-coated waffle cone with 2 scoops of mudpie ice cream. Total spent: $18.41.

Saturday afternoon. We grabbed sandwiches at the Firehouse Deli on Reef Road. The Firehouse definitely beats your average deli: not only are the sandwiches good, but there’s outdoor seating, which makes it a popular hangout.

After we ate, we browsed at Borders. Seriously, what’s not to like about Borders? You can listen to music for free, read for free, and get a decent cup of coffee (with a refill) for $1.65. If you get fancy and order a large Cara Mocho, it will set you back $4. Total spent: $16.30.

Saturday night. We were planning to try and find an inexpensive place to go out to dinner, but since The Mirror wasn’t exactly paying for our weekend outings, we decided to make dinner ourselves instead. It may sound corny, but it’s actually kind of fun to cook together. It’s especially good if you want to seem romantic and you’re strapped for cash. After all, if you can’t afford Cinzano’s, why not make your own chicken parmesan?

Since we were already staying in we figured we might as well watch a movie. We even saved the cost of the rental by tapping into our own DVD collection and watching Old School for the 85th time. As far as date movies go, you can’t get much more romantic than Old School, but if you feel the need to expand your horizons, there’s always Blockbuster. Total spent: $14.75 (at Stop and Shop).

Sunday afternoon. We packed the car with some sandwiches and a blanket and drove down to the public beach on Sasco Hill Road. (To get there, make a left on Reef Road, a right on Oldfield Road, and then a left on Sasco Hill Road. Take it down about a mile, and the beach is on your left). After our makeshift picnic lunch, we took a walk along the water. It’s already getting cold, but if you wear a sweatshirt and you can still take advantage of walking on the beach for the next couple of weeks. Total spent: $11.57 (at Stop and Shop).

All in all, we made it through the weekend only $61.03 poorer. Not bad for four dates, considering we’re college kids without deep pockets. And we didn’t even have to set foot in the bowling alley.

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