Almost ⅔ of my dating relationship was done long distance. That meant that dates were either VERY expensive (and required plane tickets), or we were just able to talk on Skype. With a good internet connection, these “date nights” were affordable and easy.
Then, we moved to the same city, and dates required a little more work.
At that time, I proposed an idea that I had always wanted: a weekly date night. A specified time when we’d put our relationship first, no matter what.
We ended up choosing Mondays: it gave us something to look forward to on an otherwise potentially stressful day.
Now, when we both get home on Mondays, we set aside our phones or whatever else, say NO to invitations for other events, and focus on our relationship with each other.
Date night has become one of my favorite traditions, and I strongly encourage everyone to incorporate a regular date night into your routine, whether it be weekly, or every two weeks.
But when you’re on a budget, date night can get tricky. I get that: we’re on a tight budget these days (more about that later, and on my email list). In honor of that, I’ve listed some of our favorite FREE (or almost free) date night ideas.
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Watch Your Significant Other’s Favorite Childhood TV Show
Netflix subscription $9-16/month – OR –
Hulu subscription: $5.99/month (with ads, no problem!)
Amazon Prime Video (free with your Prime subscription)
Dinner at home (part of grocery budget)
When Joe and I first started dating, he was watching Star Trek from the beginning. When he realized that we were serious, he decided to put that on pause, and wait until we were in the same place so we could watch it together.
It took us a little while to get past all the wedding planning and that initial phase of newly-married life, with all of it’s “busy-ness.”
Most Mondays, since we’re super on a budget, we sit down and watch several episodes of Star Trek.
I’ve learned so much about Joe: how he thinks, how this show has influenced his world view, and just what kind of storytelling he likes.
Bonus points if you watch their favorite show while eating their favorite childhood food – that would make our expenses for date night even less, because Joe loves that Kraft Macaroni and Cheese…but who didn’t, as a kid?
Explore What is FREE in Your City
Fuel to drive around.
Perhaps parking fees.
There are probably tons of FREE activities in your local area, whether it be concerts at a local park, events at the library, or sponsored events from small businesses.
Not sure how to find free events? Just google “your town name” + “free events.”
You should be met with an onslaught of resources and ideas of free – or almost free – events in your area.
Many businesses that host free events make sure that the events are on Google. You’ll find farmers markets, street fairs, library concerts, and more.
Another pro tip: check EventBrite! You’ll have to wade through some events that you have no interest in, or are paid events (that you also have no interest in). But you may also find some hidden treasures.
While completing out research for this post, I found a chocolate factory tour, a ramen festival, and nerd comedy events. I’d go to pretty much any of those events!
Yes, there will be some hits and some misses, for sure …but you can use the event as a bonding experience.
After all, it’s shared experiences that bring us together!
Celebrate Date Night with a Game
…maybe not Monopoly though.
Board game cost
Dinner (cook at home, take $$ from grocery budget)
We don’t always feel like watching Star Trek (ok, let me rephrase – I don’t always feel like watching Star Trek. TV is not my default activity at any time).
Games are a super fun way for us to be able to spend date night, and be able to do an activity that doesn’t require a screen.
The costs for this are relatively small, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to invest in games. Search out yard sales, or Amazon.com to see what’s on sale. We’ve been able to snatch up several games at deep discounts because we watched for prices to drop.
If your tastes are a bit nerdier, these can add up. That’s no problem: check out game stores in your area. If there are any game stores that specialize in collectable card games (like Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, etc.), they may have board games that you can check out and play on location.
To find these types of stores, just google “board game stores near [your city name].” (I tested this, and it brought up the game store that’s around the corner from my house – tell me in the comments if it didn’t work for you, or if there were different search terms that brought up better results).
You may also want to check out your local library: it is becoming more common to check out unusual items like musical instruments, cake pans, and more – you may be able to check out a game and take it home for 3 weeks.
Ready to splurge a little? Here are some of our favorite games that you can play with two-players:
- Poker (we play a LOT of poker – Joe was almost a professional poker player!
- Forbidden Island
- Basically ANY game with a deck of cards – the possibilities are endless!
So these are a few of our (almost free) date night ideas. What kind of budget dates do you like to go on?