8 Simple Date Ideas for Frugal Couples


Stay together (and under budget)

When you work from home, it can be tempting to skip date night, since you already see a lot of one another; but setting aside an evening once a week to have real, quality time together is essential for a happy relationship. Dinner and a movie gets old (and expensive!) so here are a few creative alternatives to keep things fun on the cheap.

1. At-home movie night can be fun if you pick a theme for the evening. My wife and I like to have a double feature; we decide on a theme, like “favorite movie in high school”, “guilty pleasure”, or “worst movie you’ve ever seen”. It’s cheaper than the theater, and you can learn things you wouldn’t have expected about your partner.

2. Check out local music or stand-up at the nearest club. While concert tickets can cost hundreds of dollars, a local show won’t run you more than $5 apiece—cheaper than fast food. Well-known, well-maintained clubs tend to filter talent pretty well, and you’ll be surprised at what gems you can find in your own neighborhood.

3. Volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen; it’ll remind you of all the things you really like about your significant other, and help keep life in perspective. If you don’t want to ladle out soup, there are all kinds of low-stress options—you can walk dogs at an animal shelter, stock shelves, or work a community garden to provide cheap produce for those less fortunate.

4. Have a “tasting” of food and drink around a theme. Google the nearest ethnic grocers and pick up some fruits, soda, or candies that you’ve never heard of before. If you’re health-conscious, you can do this with protein bars, salad dressings (on salads, of course), or any other category you can think of. Don’t worry if some of them turn out to be awful—that’s half the fun. You might even find yourself making regular stops at the Mexican grocer for Chupa-Chups like we did (look it up, it’ll change your life).

5. Museums are a great way to clear your head, get some quiet time, and talk about what really moves you. A person’s taste in art can be a window to their soul; and even if you’ve been married a long time, you’re likely to find surprises. Most local museums offer free admission; and if you find an art opening in town, you might even score a free dinner, too.

6. Start a project around the house; it might not sound like fun, but with a flexible deadline and plenty of creative latitude, you might be surprised how liberating it can be to shake up your living environment. It’s especially if you get to use fun tools like chainsaws, log splitters, or sledgehammers. Smash down a wall, paint your living room mauve—anything that lets you blow off steam and make a change.

7. Geo-makeout: This idea first showed up on XKCD: find a free GPS app for your smartphone that will provide your coordinates (these are easy to pick up on iTunes or Google Play). Then, add your birthdays after the decimal to create a new waypoint. Find your way to that spot, bring a picnic or some drinks, and make out!

8. Attend an amateur sporting event—especially one where neither of you is really interested in the outcome of the game. Lots of minor-league outfits work hard to build audience, so they can be even more fun than the pros. Little League also works for this (unless your kid is playing), or even Seniors’ Bowling Night. Buy some snacks and drinks, pick a team, and just have fun.


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