My husband and I got married a little over 2 years ago. The income we thought we’d be living on for one summer has now turned into a “who knows how long this will last” income that we have to get by on. Needless to say, we have to live simply, budget wisely, and coupon to pay the bills. I am a firm believer, however, that no matter how small your income may be, you can still make life fun, enjoy the simple things, and splurge in small ways.
One question I often get is “How do you even have date nights with your husband, when you live on practically nothing?” I’m here to tell you that you can enjoy fun and frugal dates with your significant other, while living on less. My husband and I spend less than $15 or $20 a month on frugal dates, and sometimes we don’t spend anything at all.
Here are my top 10 frugal date ideas in no particular order (all of which my hubby and I both enjoy immensely):
1. Get outside. There is nothing more romantic than a stroll through the park, a walk on the beach, or even just a lap around the neighborhood you live in. Add a sunset or sunrise, and you’re golden (no pun intended). Spending time with the person you love is just that – spending TIME. Being outside in the middle of nature takes away all distractions. You can focus on each other, talk about life, and enjoy time together without any material things getting in the way. If you’re adventurous, you can even go hiking, fishing, or camping together.
2. Go to a bookstore. Learn how to browse without buying. Some of my fondest memories with my husband are the nights that we drive up to Barnes and Noble, browse/read books, and have a discussion over a $3 cup of shared coffee.
3. Go to breakfast, rather than dinner. My husband and I never go out to dinner unless we have a gift card. Almost every weekend, though, we go to Panera and sit down to a wonderful $3-$4 breakfast. We each get a bagel that costs around $1, take our own cream cheese, and sometimes get a drink to go with it. We never spend more than $4. That’s $2 per person! You could never do that over dinner. So find an inexpensive breakfast place that has the right atmosphere, and enjoy your breakfast date each week. Again – quality time is more important that what you’re actually buying to eat.
4. Stay in for movie and pizza night. Make your own homemade pizza (it’s so easy, and way more delicious than take out). Rent a free movie either from your local library, or with a free rental code at the Redbox or Blockbuster kiosk. Pop some popcorn. Enjoy your night together with the only expense being what you spent on the groceries for the dinner-in. Making pizza is SO inexpensive, and let’s face it – we probably got that box of popcorn for practically free with coupons!
5. Go out for ice cream or coffee. Yeah – it’s quite a bit pricier than getting a carton of ice cream or making your own coffee at home. But if you’re wanting to get out and do something together, this can be a much better option than eating out for dinner. My husband and I love sharing a frozen yogurt, ice cream, or frappuccino together. We try to pick places that have good atmosphere for eating outside while talking or walking around together.
6. Split meals and use coupons. Every now and then everybody likes to splurge on a “big” date night, but that doesn’t mean it has to break the bank. There are always coupons and deals popping up for restaurants and entertainment. Sign up for Groupon. Sign up for Swag Bucks. Utilize the points on your debit cards to trade in for restaurant gift cards. If date night is really important to you, tell your loved ones that you would like gift cards as birthday and Christmas gifts. These little things add up quicker than you think! When my hubby and I go to dinner, we always split a meal, use coupons with promotions, and pay with gift cards. More often than not, we can get away with a nice dinner for free.
7. Find a special place and go there when you want time alone. It can be anywhere. My husband and I love the outdoors, so we have special spots that we like to go where nobody else is around very often. Go there to talk, walk, or read. Or if you’re in a really romantic mood, you can turn some music on in your car and share a dance together.
8. Sit on the porch and watch the rain together. To me, this is one of the most romantic things you can do together. Whether you’re in a little apartment with a small balcony or a beautiful country home with a wrap around porch, the rain is a beautiful thing. Brew a cup of coffee or share a glass of inexpensive wine together as you talk about your dreams and hopes.
9. Pick a theme and have a true date night at home. Cancel any and all plans you have. Get rid of distractions. This is just like a date night as if you were going out, but instead you’re staying in. I remember one night I surprised my husband with an Italian themed date night at home. Maggianos is a special restaurant to us, because it is where we ate the night we got engaged. Obviously we can’t afford it very often, though. So I made Italian food at home. I got out some clear twinkle lights and decorated the living room/dining room with them. I put together a play list on itunes with classic love songs. We ate a 5-course meal at home (very cheap with coupons), shared a bottle of wine, and danced the night away…all in the living room of our small townhome.
10. Volunteer together. Helping others in need by donating your time is such a special thing in and of itself. And you’d be surprised how much fun it can truly be when you volunteer together, especially if it’s something you and your spouse are passionate about. Not to mention, you’ll come away from it feeling extremely thankful for all of your blessings. That budgeted $20 a month for date nights will suddenly seem like a luxury…
What frugal date ideas do you have? How do you enjoy time with your significant other without breaking the bank?
Meagan is the author of the blog Frugal Fun & Fortune, where she writes about saving money, giving to others, delicious Vegetarian recipes, simple living, and her life adventures. Her greatest passions include chasing after God wholeheartedly, social justice, being a good wife to her sweet hub, books, and music. Visit her blog to have FUN while saving money!
*Photo Credit: Stacy Ferris Photography