When you and your partner are focusing on paying the bills and trimming debt, it’s easy to put fun on the back burner. After all, dining out is a sure-fire way to blow the budget. Expensive vacations? Entirely out of the question!
But you can still keep the spark alive with regular date nights, even on a budget.
First, schedule the time into the calendar. Often, busy couples find that if it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t happen. If you have young children, consider coordinating with another family to swap babysitting duties. This way, each set of parents gets an evening out without paying for a babysitter.
Now that you’ve got the date set and the sitter lined up, here are some frugal date night ideas so you and your partner can make great memories without spending much money.
Go on a Hike
A hike (or a leisurely walk) in a beautiful location is a great way to spend some distraction-free time with your spouse. Enjoy the scenery, get some fresh air, and get your blood pumping. Websites like AllTrails and Outdoor Project are good free resources for local hikes.
If a friend or family member was coming to visit your city, where would you take them? Often, the most impressive or entertaining spots get overlooked by locals. Pretend you’re just visiting the area and hit up some of the top tourist destinations and local landmarks. The local Chamber of Commerce is an excellent resource for inspiration.
You don’t need a telescope to take your honey stargazing! It’s best to choose a night when you’ll have clear skies and a new moon. Pack up a blanket and some snacks and head out of town to a place with dark skies and little light pollution. Spread out the blanket, look up at the stars, and bask in the awe of a starry sky.
If you miss going out to restaurants while you’re tightening the budget, you can get that restaurant enjoyment without having a full sit-down meal. Coffee and dessert at your favorite restaurant still feels like a splurge. Who said you can’t have your cake and eat it, too?
Have a Picnic
A picnic doesn’t have to be a fancy (read: expensive) affair. A lunch sack will do just fine if you don’t have a dedicated picnic basket. Cheese, crackers, fruit, and your favorite drinks require almost no prep and taste even better at a local park or wilderness area.
Visit a Farmers Market
You might be amazed at how much is happening at your local farmer’s market! Of course, you’ll find farmers selling their freshly grown produce, but there’s likely also baked goods, meat and eggs, crafts (like handmade candles and soap), and ready-to-eat food. Wandering around the farmer’s market is a great way to spend a few frugal hours. You might even come home with local produce and inspiration to try a new recipe.
Hit Up the Yard Sales
If you like the thrill of the hunt, it’s worth getting up early on a Saturday morning and hitting the yard sale circuit. Decide how much money you’re willing to spend ahead of time and bring it in small bills. This helps to ensure you stay within your budget. You never know what you might find at a yard sale—and sometimes you’ll come home empty-handed! Not knowing is all part of the fun.
Nearby orchards or berry farms can make for great frugal dates. The “u-pick” fruit farms are typically less expensive and tastier than the comparable fruit at the grocery store, and you get to spend some quality time outside with your partner. Make sure to research the right time to go for ripe fruit and bring some containers from home.
Save Then Splurge
You both deserve a special treat every so often. A long weekend away, a fancy meal and a movie, or a concert. Call it the exceptions to the “frugal” rule. Your Credit Union offers a special “My Account” Savings Club account. Small amounts get transferred regularly, painlessly and automatically, building with healthy interest. You get to name your savings account, e.g. “Long Weekend” or whatever motivates you. Before you know it you have a tidy sum ready for a special date.
Wrapping it Up
Date nights are so important in relationships. Time to talk without the day-to-day stressors and sharing new experiences help keep the romance alive. These things don’t always have to be expensive. Keep your budget on track with more frugal date nights and watch your relationship and savings account grow.