Summer lovin’ isn’t cheap, but it doesn’t have to break the bank

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Senior sociology major Jasmine Rogers speaks with hot dog vendors at the DeKalb Farmers Market June 21.

Sarah Contreras

Ah, summer. Sunshine, blue skies, free time and, maybe, summer romances. It really is a season that serves up all the good things in life. But if you’re one of many people who find themselves working hard for their money at a summer job as well as entertaining a new squeeze, you will find that money and dating go hand in hand. Luckily, staying local is a great way to save money while going out on fun, entertaining dates. Here are a few options:

Farmers Market: Both DeKalb and Sycamore host weekly farmers markets. Take advantage of the summer sun by taking your honey to explore some local flavor. With goods ranging from wine to produce to handicrafts, these markets offer a perfect chance to try new things (hello, samples!) and meet new people. The only requirement is a sense of adventure.

DeKalb Farmers Market: Thursdays in the Van Buer Plaza

Sycamore Farmers Market: Sundays on the corner of Somonauk and Elm Street

Movie Magic: It’s understood that going to the movies can get a little pricey, but it’s actually quite easy to get more bang for your buck. The local DeKalb theater offers decent discounts for matinee shows — a movie costs only $6 if you get there at the right time — as well as discount Tuesdays, when popcorn and soda cost $1 apiece. The couple that sees The Dark Knight Rises together stays together.

Bowling: If you’re looking for a little affectionate competition, then a round or two of bowling is the thing to do. There are two bowling alleys within minutes of each other on Route 23, and both offer special discounts via their Facebook pages and websites. Ask for any discount opportunities at the front desk and you may get two games of bowling plus shoe rentals for as little as $8. Believe me, I’ve tried it.

Theater Night: You don’t have to go all the way to Chicago to experience a quality play. DeKalb has two theaters within mere minutes of campus, and both are great, affordable options to change up date night. Play tickets at the Stage Coach Theater run at $12, and the cost for the Children’s Community Theater comes with an additional dose of adorable.

Get Cooking: Open up one of the many cookbooks your mom has dropped hints with and pick something that sounds tasty (and maybe easy). Head to the grocery store, divvy up the bill (spaghetti carbonara ingredients, with a side of tasty bread and juice, costs around $20) and take over somebody’s kitchen. Cooking together is a great way to learn about a sweetie, and since most student kitchens are far from palatial, it is also a nice way to feel intimate — like you’re in a movie montage.