Dating can get expensive when you factor in the food, wine and entertainment. But it doesn’t have to cost the earth to meet someone special. Follow these tips for finding love for free.

Puppy love
Man’s best friend has many uses. If you don’t have a four-legged pal of your own, offer to walk a mate’s dog and enjoy the admiring glances you get from other dog walkers. And when you spot a cute one, encourage Rover to play with the other pet while you get chatting to its owner.

Work it out
Fancy someone in the office but don’t know how to make the move? Turn your work into an altogether more sociable place by arranging an office quiz or a post-work running group. It won’t cost a thing but could lead to love.

The art of love
Lots of art galleries and museums let you browse their permanent collections for free. It’s a great way to while away an afternoon, plus there’s the chance to cross paths with a similarly cultured single. And the need to maintain a respectful hush will give an extra frisson of excitement to the proceedings.

Join the club
Taking up a new hobby will help you meet like-minded people and you won’t necessarily have to shell out for expensive club membership to do it. Seek out book groups or amateur dramatics clubs in your area, or find someone to serenade at a free local choir.

On the market
Even if you don’t have any cash to splash, you can feast your eyes on the tasty fare – not to mention eye candy – at your local food market. People love chatting at these events, so you’re bound to come home with some contact details as well as a load of free samples.

Net a real gem
Online dating is one of the most popular ways to meet people, and will let you register and browse for free. Get to together with a friend to write a brilliant profile and have fun checking out all the options.

Party time
Take inspiration from Sex And The City and throw a party where everyone has to bring a single friend. You’ll widen your social circle, could meet a new flame and, provided everyone brings a bottle as well as a mate, you won’t have to open your wallet once.

Sound of silence
Who hasn’t daydreamed about meeting a hot, glasses-wearing bookworm in the library? Having a sneaky peek at what people are reading will help you gauge their interests, and the call for silence means you’ll have to exchange notes to communicate properly. What’s sexier than that?

Voluntary, my dear
If you’ve always wanted to do some volunteering but haven’t quite got round to it yet, maybe the possibility of meeting someone new will spur you on. Whether you’re mucking out horses at a stable together or helping at a charity event, your love interest will see your most caring side.

Weddy, steady, love
With everyone in a good mood, Champagne flowing and cheesy tunes playing on the dance floor, there are few more uplifting places to find love than a wedding. So be on your best behaviour and keep your fingers crossed for lots of invites this year.