There have been seasons in my life when, for various reasons, budget was tighter than usual and when we were literally living paycheck to paycheck. Of course, we did our best to cut out unnecessary expenses, and one of them was date nights.
It wasn’t always easy for me. I tried to be tough, willing to make sacrifices for our family and telling myself that our marriage relationship was strong enough that we didn’t need regular date nights. But to be honest with you, there were definitely times when it was nice to have some time alone with my husband.
A big lesson we learned was that date nights really did not have to cost anything. During lean financial times, this doesn’t have to be a sacrifice that couples have to make. After all, there’s more to a romantic night out than a fine dining experience or even a movie.
So, here are six ideas for date nights that won’t empty your pockets.
Shop but Don’t Buy
If you have really good self-control, this would be a fun thing to do for a date. We like going to Ikea (to get organization and home ideas), to Costco (to get some free samples), and to the farmer’s market (to check out the different vendors and products). If you don’t have much self-control, you can still do this … just leave your money at home.
Search for Free Admission Days
Many places, like museums, designate certain free admission days throughout the year. We’ve taken advantage of this for planning field trips with our kids, but why not do this for a date with your spouse? Looking up your city’s events calendar can turn up some free community events as well.
Stop by Homes for Sale
We live in an old house, but there are many areas around us where new housing developments are popping up. Sometimes, we like visiting the model homes, where we can get some decorating ideas. On weekends, properties that are up for sale usually hold open houses. A word of warning: I wouldn’t suggest this activity if you get too tempted to covet these other homes.
Stroll Along a Favorite Spot
We love going to our downtown Main Street to take a leisurely stroll. I love the uniqueness of all the stores and shops and seeing the history of some of the buildings and architecture.
If you have a university campus nearby, this can also be an interesting walk. Trails, parks, or even the streets around your neighborhood are all great options for your stroll. An unhurried walk, will not only give you some time to talk to each other, but is also an opportunity to hold your sweetheart’s hand.
Sign Up for Loyalty Programs
If you have a favorite restaurant or other establishment, consider signing up for their customer loyalty program. If you don’t mind receiving email notices from them, you may score some coupons and great offers. (Hint: creating a separate email address dedicated for things like this will help keep your inbox under control.)
Often, these places will give you something free, at least for your birthday or anniversary. I’ve received free desserts and dinners at favorite restaurants and received emails announcing free admission at the drive-in theater.
Though you may be itching to get out of the house, staying home is probably the best way to assure that you won’t spend anything. Just because you’re at home, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a fun date night. Check out my post on How to Have a Date Night When You Don’t Have a Babysitter for some ideas, from reading a book together to gazing at the stars.
What do you do for date nights when you are short on cash?
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