Since my husband started his grad program a few years ago, saving money where we can has been a priority. Whether it was buying toys and clothes second hand or cutting out unnecessary spending on "fun" things, we needed to budget to prevent excess debt. Unfortunately as a result, the amount of times we went on a date over the past few years could probably be counted on one hand. I just didn't really want to spend the money to go out, especially because the cost of a babysitter alone was going to be more than the date itself! But cutting out date night in an effort to save money can be extremely damaging to any relationship, and in my experience, date nights were a great chance for us to step away and take a deep breath from the demands that parenthood placed on us. That's why finding ways to fit date night into your budget is vitally important--so that you can continue to nurture your relationship without the stress it might place on your wallet. So if you're in need of some ideas, here are some of my favorite tips on how to have date night on a dime as well as some of my favorite budget friendly date ideas!
How To Fit Date Night Into Your Budget:
Watch for Specials
If there's a place you've been wanting to visit but it's a little more than you can or want to spend, find out if they have any upcoming promos or discounts! For example, my husband and I have been wanting to check out a local spot in Idaho that has ice castles, tunnels, sledding hills and sleigh rides, but we can't fit full priced tickets into the budget. Just in the past few weeks, though, the business has ran a handful of specials, such as their locals discount night or their Valentine's Day special for 25% off admission.
When we lived in Vegas, locals discounts were pretty common. There were even passes we could check out from our local library for free admission to popular museums and more, so it may be worth it to find out if that exists in your area!
The best way to stay up-to-date on specials and deals is to follow along on business Facebook and Instagram pages, or to sign up for emails. Some places even offer a one-time discount when you sign up for emails, so it never hurts to sign up!
If you're in a bigger city, check out Groupon! You can normally snag some great discounts to local date night hot spots!
Ask About Veteran or Student Discounts
If you or your spouse are still in school, inquire about student discounts! A lot of businesses will offer some sort of discount, even if it's not much, for showing your student ID.
Many businesses will also offer a discount if you are a veteran, so it never hurts to inquire if that applies to you!
Go to Lunch Instead
I LOVE going out to eat and so does my husband, so going out to eat is normally our default date. However, even getting fast food these days can be expensive!
One way to save money if you like eating out is to go to lunch instead. Although not every restaurant will have lunch specials, there are plenty of restaurants that do! Check menus online or call in to see if they are offering any promos, then play your date around that!
Join Restaurant Loyalty Programs
I love when restaurants offer loyalty programs! Although not every restaurant will, there are hundreds of restaurants that do! So if you have plans to go out to eat, visit their website and join their loyalty program! A lot of restaurants will even give you bonus points or a coupon to use on your first visit (just make sure to join their list a few days ahead of when you're planning to visit, as it can take a few days before it's sent out).
You may also want to check to see if they have an app! Apps make it easy to keep track of points, rewards, or offers that may be available for you to use at the restaurant!
Purchase a Membership to Your Favorite Date Spot
If you and your spouse have a favorite date-night spot, consider getting a membership if it's offered! Many movie theaters offer deals on memberships, as well as many recreational centers, museums, amusement parks, zoos, aquariums etc. So if there's a place you enjoy going with your spouse, snag that pass! And if it's family friendly, it may even come in handy when you need a place to take your kiddos as well!
Alternate Pricey Dates with Free Ones
You don't have to go on a fancy date night every Friday night for it to be quality time spent together! In fact, some of the simplest things can make the best dates. Alternating these simple dates with the occasional spendy ones can help you stay on budget while still giving you the chance to do something a bit nicer on occasion.
Depending on your budget, you can alternate going out and staying in each week. If you'd like to keep a bit tighter of a budget, consider picking free date nights the first few weeks of the month, then use the money you saved for one big date night at the end of the month.
Weekends are inevitably the busiest times for businesses, as many people have weekends off from work. Because of this, prices are often higher so that they can keep up with the demand.
So if you have time off during the week, try planning date night then instead of waiting until the weekend, when everyone else is trying to squeeze in a date as well. Not only will you likely save money, but there will be less crowds as well! Win win!
Movie Buff? Go During Matinee Prices or Visit the Budget Theater
Most of us love a good visit to the movie theater. But ticket prices can be super expensive, especially if you're visiting a nice theater with luxury seating. Although I love a good plush seat, visiting the budget theater can save a LOT of money, allowing you to fit more date nights (and more trips to the theater) into your budget!
If you're still set on visiting a nice theater, try going during the day. Although this isn't plausible for a lot of couples, as work can get in the way, planning a daytime movie date if you have a day off or your schedule allows can save a few bucks.
Some theaters also offer weekly deals. My in-laws, for example, always visit their local theater on Tuesday as they offer a deal for $5 tickets that include popcorn and a drink!
Buy Discounted Gift Cards at Sam's Club or Costco
Membership warehouses like Sam's Club and Costco offer some great gift cards at discounted prices to restaurants or businesses. Some discounts can be pretty significant, while some are just a few dollars. Either way, it's a great thing to consider if there's somewhere specific you are already planning to visit.
Use a Rewards Credit Card
Rewards credit cards a great way to get cashback on purchases. Some rewards credit cards offer a set percentage back on all purchases, while other cards will give higher percentages back at specific places.
For example, my credit card occasionally offers higher cashback on restaurant purchases. Although it may not seem like much, it can add up quite a bit if you use the rewards credit card for all purchases.
Use Cashback/Discount Apps
Like I said before, I love saving money any way I can! One way I do this is using apps like Fetch Rewards and Ibotta. I get points or cashback on grocery purchases I make, and then I can redeem them for gift cards to our favorite date night spots!
You can also use apps like Rakuten to get cashback on retail purchases, which can also be used to pay for future date nights!
Swap Babysitting with Friends
Babysitting can definitely get expensive! As it should be! Our babysitters are taking care of our kids when we're away, so they deserve to be paid well. But when you're on a tight budget, babysitting can be difficult to squeeze in, making date night seem impossible. And although you can have date night at home, after a while, it can get monotonous.
Sometimes you just need to get out and try something new with your spouse! (In fact, this concept of exploring new things together is actually important for keeping that spark alive!)
So don't let the cost of babysitting hold you back! Either save a little extra each week and set it aside for one big date night each month, or consider swapping babysitting with friends! Take their kids for them every other week, and they can take yours! That way you both can get date night in!
Find Free/Cheap Activities
Although there's plenty of things you can do to save money when going out, sometimes it's just nice to find things to do that are free or cheap! Decide if you'd rather stay home or go out, then check out our list below for some ideas!
20 Budget-Friendly Date Night Ideas:
If you can't find a babysitter, it's too cold to go out, or you just need something easy but still want some good quality time with your spouse, here are some fun budget date ideas you can do right at home!
1. Board Game Marathon
Sometimes I forget about the loads of board games we have in our closet! By pulling out a stack of games, you can put together a nice date night with your spouse or set up a group date by inviting over some friends to join in. If you enjoy a little competition, keep track of scores and see who wins the most out of your stack of games and award them with a prize of their choosing.
2. Movie Night at Home
Although movie night at home is normally nothing special (as we normally plop down to watch a movie or TV show every night after the kids are in bed anyways), you can make movie night at home a date night to remember by watching something new together or having a theme movie night.
For example, rent a French film and pick up some macarons to enjoy as you watch the movie. You could also arrange the room to give it a unique feel or romantic vibe, such as setting up a plush blanket on the floor to lay on together with plenty of pillows, burning a candle, or even hanging a strand of white Christmas lights.
If it's summer, have a movie night in your backyard! Whatever you do, just find a way to make the night unique and different from your normal binge-watching sessions together!
One of the best ways to strengthen your relationship is to figure out how you both feel loved. So taking the love language quiz and discussing it together can be a great cheap date night at home!
4. Bake a New Treat
Everybody loves a good treat! So if you like baking, make it into a date night! Learn how to make pastries together, or print out a new cupcake or cookie recipe you'd like to make and decorate together.
This is a great seasonal date night idea as well, with all the fun seasonal shaped cookie cutters out there to pick from! Once you're done, enjoy a few then surprise your kiddos with the rest of your creations in the morning!
5. Play Games to Make Each Other Laugh
One of my favorite people to follow on Instagram has always been Kelsi Fullmer (@fullmhouse)! She and her husband have a featured post every Tuesday where they play a variety of games (no cards or dice required) where they just have fun together and make each other laugh.
One of my favorites was their recent "to kiss or diss" game, where one person had to put on noise cancelling headphones while the other person spoke either a (gentle) diss or a compliment. The other person would attempt to read their lips and then guess what they said. If they believed it to be a compliment, they'd go in for a kiss. This is a fun one, as the guesses as to what the other person is saying are often pretty humorous.
Another fun one they did was the Quiet Place game, where one person is blind folded with a nerf gun, while the other has to go to a random place in the room and stand there motionless. The blindfolded person then wanders the room listening and shoots at them when they think they know where they are!
Follow along on their Instagram and make it a tradition to have a Tuesday date night each week where you test out their game of the day. (You can also go the classic route with Would You Rather or Truth or Dare if you prefer.)
6. Play an Outdoor Game
If the weather is nice, pull out your badminton or croquet set and have some fun in the backyard-even if it's dark out once you get the kids in bed. This can add a level of difficulty that makes the game that much more fun.
7. Take an Online Class Together
Wanna learn how to play the guitar or crochet? Pull up YouTube and find a video tutorial! Alternate who picks the video each week, and learn how to do something new every date night! You can pretty much find a free tutorial online about any hobby, so try anything and everything!
8. Taste Testing
This idea comes courtesy of my husband! Although it requires a little spending, you can make this date on the cheap if you only buy things that are in the weekly ad!
For this date, pick a category of food you'd like to do a taste test for! For example, pick out a bunch of novelty bottled sodas at your grocery store ahead of date night, then taste test each one and rate how they taste! You could also do a brand-name vs store-brand game where you get a variety of items in both off-brand and name-brand, put on a blind fold, then guess which is which.
Do this as a group date and have each person bring something to make it less expensive (and to make it more fun!)
You don't have to go out for karaoke or dancing! Pull up some free karaoke online or download an app and sing some of your favorite songs together! If dancing is more your thing, find some YouTube videos online with dance instruction and learn a new dance together. Or if you already know how to dance, turn on some romantic music and enjoy some close time together.
10. Painting/Craft Night
I've always wanted to visit one of those businesses where you learn to paint or get to pick out a ceramic object and glaze it. However, they can get very expensive very fast. So why not do a craft night at home instead! Although this won't be completely free, you can normally find materials for pretty cheap at local craft stores.
Stock up on craft projects when you see them on sale, and store them for when you need an at home date night! If you love to paint, pull out some canvas, find an online tutorial, then compare your finished products! You could also tie dye shirts, paint rocks, make birdhouses--the sky is the limit!
OUT ON THE TOWN:
It's always nice to get out of the house every so often for something other than errands or work! If you want to get out and want to spend as little as possible but don't want to have to search for a local deal, here are some fun things you can still do together!
1. Visit a Farmers Market Together
If your town has frequent markets and the weather permits, plan a time when you can go wander the market together. It can be so much fun to see what unique things people have to sell, even if you don't end up buying anything!
2. $5 Gift Game
This is one of my absolute favorite games that not only gets you out of the house, but can bring you closer together with your spouse or whoever you're playing it with! Visit your favorite store, and with $5 a piece, split up and find something to gift to the other person. Then meet up after and give your gifts to one another. This is not only a fun game for a one-on-one date night, but makes a great group date as well.
3. Garage Sale/Thrift Store Hopping
If you're wanting to save money in general, garage sales or thrift stores are a great place to start. But they also make a great date activity as well! Whether you just want to wander and see what hidden gems you can find, or you want to make a game out of it by seeing who can find the most unique items for less than $10, this can be a super fun date away from home!
4. Visit Open Houses
My husband and I have yet to buy our first home, but I LOVE to dream about it! A great way to get an idea on what things you'd like in your future home while having a date at the same time is to visit open houses that are going on in your area! Drive from open house to open house, and make a list of things you see that you both loved! Not only is this a fun date, but it can help you get to know your spouse a lot better as well!
5. Go on a Picnic
Picnics will always be one of my favorite dates. Stop by your favorite grocery store, grab some classy sodas in glass bottles and your favorite snacks, then pick a unique location to enjoy our meal. Visit a new location often for a unique date night every time.
6. Picture Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts aren't just for kids. They can be just as fun (if not more fun) for adults as well. One of my favorites is a picture scavenger hunt, where you have to go around town taking pictures with things that are on your list of things to find. This is a super fun date idea to do with friends-whoever completes their list first, wins! Then do a slideshow at home of the pictures you all took! (Check out this blog here for a tutorial on how to put together a picture scavenger hunt!)
Live near a good hiking trail? Make it a date! Even better if you can try out a destination hiking trail! Do a quick google search to see if there are any trails in your area that take you to see petroglyphs or that lead to waterfalls, and take lots of pictures along the way!
8. Visit a Free Carnival/Event in Your Area
Especially in the summer and fall, there are plenty of great carnivals, concerts, or events that you can attend for free! Visit your local community FB page or website to stay up to date on community events, then plan date nights around the ones you'd like to attend!
9. Scenic Bike Ride
If you each own a bike, take those puppies out for a spin! Instead of going on your usual neighborhood route, pack them into your minivan and take them to a place you can bike with nice views, such as a riverside trail or park. You can also rent a tandem bike for the afternoon and see just how in sync you and your partner can be!
10. Watch the Sun Set or Go Stargazing
Something so simple yet so romantic! If you have a truck, load it up with snuggly blankets, pillows, and snacks, drive out to a romantic place, watch the sun set, then stay for a little stargazing! Bring the date to the next level by printing out a constellation guide and see if you can spot them together!
No matter what date night looks like for you, remember it's less about the money and more about the time spent together. You don't need to go on frequent romantic vacations or even visit high-end restaurants every week to keep the spark alive. In fact, the simple or free date nights you come up with with your spouse may be the most memorable after all!