While nice restaurants and event dates are fun, they are only in our budget every now and then. The main thing I want from a date with my husband is time to connect without interruptions from our daughter, and that doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are some of our favorite cheap dates:
- See a Second-Run Movie: Generally, when we get to go to the movies, it’s because the movie we are seeing is appropriate for (and aimed at) our 5 year old. So there are lots of movies we want to see where the opportunity was lacking, and we can generally catch them for $2 a ticket at our favorite second run movie house. Going to movies is a lot cheaper once they have been out for a while, especially when we either sneak in our own healthier snacks or go out for ice cream after the show. Unlike Netflix or On Demand, you get the big screen experience without paying the big screen price.
- Head to a Used Book Store: I can happily look through a bookstore for hours, as can the hubby. Used books are generally cheap, have more eclectic and unique selections than new book stores, and will generally accept gently used trade-ins to help offset any purchases. Readers always have something to talk about (when we aren’t actually reading). While I like browsing new book stores too, I keep to my budget better with used.
- Cook at Home Together: Cooking with someone can be a lot of fun. It can also be a good way of saving money on a really special meal with excellent food. Cooking a good steak, sides, and a dessert, and pairing it all with a decent bottle of wine is our favorite way of spending Valentine’s Day or special occasion. It generally runs us less than half of what we’d pay going out, and we don’t end up with a long wait in a restaurant lobby. The background music is generally better, and if we can arrange the babysitting right there’s the added bonus of neither one of us having to be the designated driver.
- Take a Walk In The Woods: A walk is a great time to connect, as well as a good way to get in some exercise. Parks and greenways are usually free and often scenic. If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach or in the mountains, you have even better venues for romantic walks. For a romantic treat, stop and smell the roses at a botanical garden or arboretum. Sometimes we go for a short walk, and sometimes we take a picnic and make a day of it. Either way, we come back refreshed.
- Hang Out at a Coffee House: Going out for coffee is enjoyable, not too expensive and easy to do while the kiddo is at school. The important thing is that we do go out for coffee so rarely that it really does feel special when we do it. We like to pick places that have outdoor seating and aren’t busy with telecommuters hunched over computers. It’s a great way to sit, talk, and have a relaxing cup of joe.
- Take in an Outdoor Concert: Shopping centers, parks, downtowns. There are a lot of venues that offer free or very cheap music, particularly on warm weather evenings. If you plan your meal before or after, you’ll be less tempted to spend extra money with the nearby restaurants or food trucks.
- Fix Something: My husband is a do it yourself kind of guy; me, not so much. But doing something that is really part of your partner’s wheel house is an important part of any relationship, and so helping him gives us time to hang out as well as letting him know that his interests are important and teaching me new stuff. Not to mention, fixing things yourself is actively saving you money.
- A Trip to the Farmers Market: A farmers market is just as good for people watching as it is for saving money on fresh, local produce. A lot of venders have samples of things like fresh salsa or baked goods.
- Let’s Do Lunch: Lunch at most restaurants tends to be cheaper than dinner, so lunch is a good way to get your eating out fix for less money. You can also avoid the babysitter by going out during the school day.
- Light a Fire: I’ll admit that at times this is a family event that turns into a date right in front of our daughter, who tends to want to go inside after an hour and watch TV. We’ll crank some relaxing music, fix a couple of drinks, and watch the fire burn down or look at the stars. This is especially nice during the spring or fall when the evening is just a little chilly, but we will light a fire in the backyard any time of year.
Got an idea to share? Please let us know in the comments.
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