One Year’s Worth of Weekly Cheap Dates

by Millionaire Mommy Next Door on February 13, 2009

in Save Money (frugal ideas)

I’ve been happily married to the same man for over two decades. What is our secret to marital bliss? Besides the biggies like communication, respect, kindness, compromise, commitment and shared values, the answer is HAVING FUN! Especially now that we’re parents, we find it helpful — no, necessary — to set time aside for one-on-one time. We schedule weekly date nights.

We’ve found that a lack of planning leads us to overspend on our dates. Without a plan, we find ourselves drifting to an expensive restaurant, then leaving with our wallets $70 lighter. But date nights don’t need to break the budget. To prevent indecision and consequential overspending, I like to keep a list of fun and frugal ideas. Hopefully I’ve come up with a few you can use, too.

Tip: Eliminate babysitter fees by co-oping with family friends: you watch their kids one night a week and in trade, they reciprocate.

1. Always a winner– wine, cheese, and a sunset.
2. Play Frisbee golf.
3. Create an “International Night”. Decorate your home with an international theme, dress up, prepare ethnic foods, listen to appropriate music, and watch a foreign film on DVD.
4. Try letter-boxing or geocaching.
5. Enjoy an art walk, gallery to gallery.
6. Watch a high school play.
7. For a reduced price, attend a matinée movie. Bring your own popcorn.
8. Play a rousing game of Laser-Tag.
9. Spend an evening playing board games by candlelight.
10. Attend a book signing at a local bookstore.
11. Go bargain shopping at a flea market or garage sale.
12. Take a hike.
13. Design a scavenger or treasure hunt. Write clues on pieces of paper and leave them all around the house, neighborhood park, or town. Design each clue to lead to the next. Place a small gift, bubble bath, or picnic basket at the end of the hunt. It’s best if the places and clues are particularly meaningful to both people.
14. Pedal a tandem bike. Culminate the ride with a picnic.
15. Attend a free concert or festival. Check the local newspaper for an upcoming event schedule.
16. Go to a free library event.
17. Go for a moonlight swim. Check with your local Parks & Recreation Department for pool hours, or hit a favorite lake.
18. Check the university schedule (if you live in a college town) for lectures, films and concerts.
19. Attend an independent theater engagement.
20. Try Glow Bowling.
21. Play Miniature golf
22. Visit a 4-H fair or carnival.
23. For group dates, create a thematic dinner club.
24. Participate in a progressive dinner.
25. Join a book club for couples.
26. Hold a private fondue party.
27. Attend a wine tasting. Check with local restaurants and liquor stores for schedule.
28. Take a factory tour.
29. Visit the zoo or museum on a free or lower admission day.
30. Sign up for Tai Chi classes.
31. Scramble at an indoor rock climbing gym.
32. Star gaze. Ponder the mysteries of the universe.
33. Dance the night away with ballroom or salsa dance lessons.
34. Check with the local home improvement store for free do-it-yourself instruction classes.
35. Create a fairy garden.
36. Sculpt a bonsai tree or topiary.
37. Watch an anime movie.
38. View home movies, scrapbooks and photo albums. Reminisce.
39. Craft a new scrapbook page.
40. Make homemade gifts or greeting cards.
41. Go to a drive-in movie. Bring popcorn and beverages.
42. Take a drive through the countryside.
43. Give one another facials or pedicures.
44. Create a time capsule and bury it.
45. Share a book by reading it out loud.
46. Take a stroll through downtown.
47. Go sledding with a thermos of hot apple cider.
48. Bake and decorate cookies, then deliver them to friends.
49. Play around: Visit a quiet playground (without kidlets). Share secrets or interview each other.
50. Fly a kite.
51. Go fishing.
52. Enjoy a classic movie marathon. Serve fresh buttered popcorn and snuggle under a big blanket.

If you’re fortunate enough to share love, make a conscious choice to nurture your relationship. Don’t wait until circumstances change. Make a standing date with your partner today. Have fun!

Please share your favorite cheap date ideas in the comments!

Relevant, recommended books:
10,000 Ways to Say I Love You (Paperback)
Romantic Antics: Creative Ideas for Successful First Dates, Adventurous Saturday Nights, and Playful Long Weekends (Paperback)
RoMANtic’s Guide: Hundreds of Creative Tips For A Lifetime (Paperback)

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Kym February 13, 2009 at 4:18 pm

I’m beginning to think, based on your blog and other PF blogs I read, that the real secret to financial security is to marry early and stay with that person. Too bad that by these standards I am still single at too advanced an age (27) to ever hope to be financially secure without getting some kind of high-powered job.

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May February 13, 2009 at 4:39 pm

Thanks so much for this list… what a great collection of cool, unexpected ideas above and beyond “cook dinner at home.” Great relationships need nurturing, and being able to do so without the added stress of draining the bank account: priceless. These ideas will definitely be put to use in my home.

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maria February 14, 2009 at 6:58 am

Our favorite “date” has always been a very long walk
in different parts of the city and coming home to a foot soaking.

Maria

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Mike S February 14, 2009 at 7:45 am

Kym,
It’s unfortunate you feel that way. Hopefully, you will soon realize you are wrong! I’m sure MMND will agree. C’mon you’re only 27!
-Mike

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admin February 14, 2009 at 9:57 am

Kym, I’m sorry you feel that way, too. I hope you don’t get stuck in thinking it takes having a man in your life to make you successful. YOU hold the power!

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Pink Ink February 14, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Great list!!

Some of the fun cheap dates we’ve gone on:

-drive around looking at houses for sale
-play basketball
-drive to the canyon

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Nicole February 16, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Ummm, that’s a cute list, but many of the things on it are things I would do with my children, not my spouse. The chance of my husband scrapbooking, creating a fairy garden or watching an anime move with me are zilch. Sounds like your husband is more open to trying things than mine – LOL. I forward your suggestions on to him and see what he says.

Happy President’s Day!

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Kathryn February 19, 2009 at 7:32 am

My favorite date involves hubbie and I going to the grocery ALONE to shop for the night’s dinner. He rarely goes and loves the sensory stimulation of color, texture, and smells … what can I say, he’s a cheap date. Anyway, we get home to a clean kitchen (all 4 kids are in a land far, far away … just kidding; umm, not really) and we begin cooking.

Once dinner is done, we pop a library movie into the DVD/VHS player attached to the projector and watch the movie in our living room using our blind area (9′ x 7′) as our projection screen. Ah, bliss!

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Tracey February 19, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Great ideas! To keep my ideas fresh, I subscribe to RSS feeds of blogs that feature local events, many of which are free or cheap. Another idea is making sushi together – a fraction of the cost of a sushi bar.

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Christine April 14, 2009 at 2:57 pm

I have some more cheap date suggestions.
Go to the driving range and hit a large bucket of golf balls together.
Cook together – I like making romantic meals, they are so much fun.
Go out to a nice restaurant for a romantic candlelight desert instead of dinner.
If you are an urban dweller like me, see if your local art district offers any free or cheap events in the summer – I’m in Indy and the White River State Park downtown has free concerts, plays, and even old film showings. Also, the Indianapolis Art Museum is free.

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Bankruptcy Ben June 25, 2010 at 1:24 am

Awesome list. I have been lacking in inspiration and while in the subtropics they’re won’t be any sledding:) the others are great. Thanks. I’ve got to confess I’m reading your blog more for the frugal couple/relationship stuff

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