When was the last time you spent the night looking at the stars in the sky or made a fancy dinner at home? Surf ‘n turf anyone? Date nights don’t have to be expensive to be fun.
You can go the cheap route and still make some great memories, especially if making it a cheap date helps you get closer to a big financial goal you’ve set. Whether you’re saving for a wedding, your first home, or grinding away to pay off debt, being on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t spend time with friends, family or spouse doing things you love. There is plenty of cheap fun to be had.
Need some ideas? We have ideas.
Here are 21 fun and inexpensive date night ideas, crowdsourced from our clients and Facebook followers. They are smart cookies:
Talk: Make a bucket list of things you want to do together, either soon or someday. Spending time with your significant other talking about things you can do together or want to do together is not only great quality time, but it gives you the motivation to work even harder toward your money goals. Bonus points if you identify bucket list items that don’t cost a lot of money or are free.
Let’s go to the movies: If you own a subscription service like Netflix or HBO Now, find the latest releases, pop some popcorn and chill. Or if you don’t have a subscription service, rent a movie for free from your local library. If you like the movie theatre experience, opt for a morning movie when showings are cheaper.
Read: Pick out a book you both like and read it to each other.
Cook: Make a new recipe or your favorite recipe together. Go to the grocery store with a list of ingredients and get to cooking. Cook dinner is something you have to do anyway, so why not try something new together?
Host a gathering: Rather than spending money dining out, invite friends over for a meal. Maybe you provide the main dish and they provide side dishes and dessert. Sharing a meal will cost far less than had you all dined out together.
Have a game night: Get out a deck of cards or find your Scrabble board and have yourself a good old fashioned game night.
Get outside: Enjoying great outdoors is free. Grab a friend and go for a walk, go rollerblading, go on a bike ride, take a hike, and enjoy time in the sunshine with your loved ones!
People watching: Go to your favorite local coffee shop, sit, and people watch. Some places have live music from local talent which is always an added bonus to the people watching. Even if you buy the most complex caffeinated beverage there is, you’ll likely spend less than $10.
Dance Party: Fire up Spotify or Pandora and get moving. You don’t need to go to a club to have a dance party.
Check Your Community Listings: There are free or almost free events, workshops, plays, and clinics at local venues such as colleges, libraries, and museums happening all the time. Find the ones nearest to you and check them out.
Get sporty: Tickets to your major league team, may be expensive but there are plenty of cheaper options. Find a minor league team or go cheer on your local high school’s football team on a Friday night.
Midday date: Want to dine out? Go to lunch instead of dinner. Lunch typically costs less money and restaurants offer the same meals as dinner only in smaller sized portions. Get the white table cloth experience without the sticker shock.
Happy hour: Do you have a favorite local watering hole? Find out their happy hour specials and take advantage of the savings. Some restaurants may even offer happy specials on meals or discounted kids meals if you go on a weeknight.
Play tourist: Try to see where you live through new eyes. When was the last time you played tourist in your own town? Go for a walk and take pictures of your favorite spots.
Pump some iron: Work out in the comfort of your own home. It costs less than a gym membership and gets you moving.
Wine Tasting: Find a local liquor store or distillery that offers free tastings. You just may find that magical $10 bottle of wine with a $50 flavor.
Wine and Cheese Night: By that $10 bottle of wine, pair it with some cheese, put it on a nice platter and have yourself a little wine and cheese party. It can be a party for two or you can invite some friends over for a cheap but fun night in.
Camping at Home: Spend the night outside in your own backyard. Have kids? Build a fort in the living room. Or even if you don’t have kids, pretend like you’re a kid again and build the fort anyway. Tell stories, share your dreams, or just enjoy spending time with each other in this slightly new setting.
Volunteer: Love pets? Find a local animal shelter and go walk some dogs. Like working with your hands? Find a local Habitat for Humanity site and lend your talents while also doing some good.
Take a mini-road trip: Go to a place close to home that you have always wanted to visit – a farmer’s market, a flea market, a lunch spot, whatever it is, it’s your choice! And it will likely cost less than a full-blown romantic getaway.
Dine al Fresco: Have a picnic in your yard or dinner on the patio. Sometimes doing something just slightly out of routine is enough to make it feel special.
See? There are plenty of things you can do that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. But I’m sure there are plenty we didn’t think of here. What are you doing to have fun and stay on budget? Leave them in the comments below, so I can add to this list.