I am a firm believer that just because you’re trying to get out of debt, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. And what better way to have fun than on date night. In our year of dating and three years of marriage, we have made date night a non-negotiable, granted we don’t have kids yet, so this is a lot easier for us to fit in than bigger families.
When I think of date night, my mind naturally drifts to images of fancy dinners at expensive restaurants, but it doesn’t need to be. I am going to share 14 date night ideas that will hopefully put some spice into your date night routine and keep you under budget! Your debt free goals don’t need to suffer for a fun night with your partner!
Cheap Movies and Matinees
I love going to the theatre to see a new release on the big screen. The theatre in my city offers a $5 Movie Tuesday meal with free popcorn! The movie theatre is always packed, and new releases sometimes sell out. if we ever want to go to a movie, we make sure to take advantage of this awesome deal! If your town doesn’t offer a cheap movie night, you can always check out a matinee.
RedBox makes a date night movie so easy and convenient too. And since renting is so cheap, we usually get some chocolate or make our own popcorn for a fraction of the cost of the theatre. If you want to put a fun spin on your RedBox routine, try building a fort in your living room instead of just sitting on the couch! We love doing this! We move the couch and chairs around, put blankets over them, and snuggled up on the floor. Sometimes, we even throw down an air mattress to make it more comfy.
Act Like a Tourist in Your Own Town
Nearly every town has at least one local museum. I came from a town so small it is technically called a village, and we even have a small little museum. It can be really fun to learn about the history of your own town, and make a date out of it. If you’re lucky, there are multiple museums and you can make a whole day out of it! The costs are usually pretty minimal as well.
Classic Tourist Photos
We live in a really touristy town with dozens of hot spots to visit and take pictures. It also helps that I live on Lake Superior and it’s absolutely breathtaking! But even if you don’t live in a particularly touristy place, I’m sure there are still places that you can act the tourist. Bring out a big digital camera, use your smartphone, or spend a couple bucks on a disposable and wander around town taking cheesy pictures. If you want to get really creative, talk in accents and make up a backstory if anyone asks where you’re from.
Take a Tour
Really small towns might not have many attractions to tour, but if your city does, it’s really fun to get in on a local tour. Like with museums, it’s a great way to learn about your local history, and you can really get the insight scoop on a specific attraction. If you’re lucky, there’s a brewery in town and you can pay a small fee for a sweet tour and a free beer or two!
Sports and Active Adventures
If you can get your hands on a set of golf clubs, this can be a blast! You don’t need to be good, just open to having a bit of fun and maybe laughing at yourself. My wife doesn’t play golf at all, but we make it a point to go to the driving range once a year. A couple weeks ago we spent $4 and got close to an hour of entertainment. Jenna hit about 5 times, and then we goofed around while I hit the rest. Plus, it can be a greatly humbling experience!
Like golfing, you don’t need to be good to have fun. Tennis courts are usually free as long as you have a racket and a few tennis balls. If neither of you play tennis, I wouldn’t even keep score, unless you’re both really competitive, it might actually be more fun! We always bring our dog and she goes nuts running back and forth trying to get the tennis ball, her first true love in this world. We don’t play for long, but spend time walking there and back, which speaks to my love language of quality time.
I know it’s the peak of summer, but I wanted to throw a couple winter dates out for good measure. If you have the right equipment, these are also free date days or date nights. If you don’t have the right equipment, try borrowing from a friend until you fall in love with it enough to buy your own. I don’t believe you need to outright buy equipment to try out a new hobby. Find a small lake or pond near you, or a nice groomed trail for snowshoeing. If there are no lakes or trails nearby, you can always try making your own little pond or trail in your backyard.
Another freebie! Grab a pair of shoes, your partner’s hand and you’re on your way! Nature is best enjoyed in the company of someone you love. If you don’t have many hiking trails around, make some up, or drive a bit to find one. Find a scenic view and pack a picnic to raise the romance meter a few notches!
I’ve never done this, but it sounds amazing! I think it requires you to download an app for a couple bucks, but after that, it’s super cheap. The app gives you geocache locations where a small treasure is located and you use a GPS to track it down. It’s basically modern day treasure hunting! It’s good etiquette to bring a trinket of your own to replace the one you find. If there aren’t any geocaches near you, you can always create your own for others to find. I know a lot of couples who do this with their kids too, so maybe you want to make it a family outing instead of a date night!
My wife hates games, so this isn’t a popular date for us, but I know a lot of couples who have game nights pretty often. One of my favorites is cribbage. It’s a pretty quick, basic game that is simple enough to hold a conversation over. A few others I like are Gin Rummy, Dutch Blitz, and Trivial Pursuit if you’re looking to be a little more intense. If you want to make it interesting, keep a running tally of wins and losses or make a wager where the loser needs to make dinner. It helps keep it fun and exciting!
Fun With Food
Go Out For Dessert
It can be really expensive to spend date nights out at a fancy restaurant, especially if you make a habit out of it. But who says you need to go out for dinner? Why not make a wonderful home cooked dinner, and then just go out for dessert. Bring a deck of cards and get tiramisu at a restaurant with a view. It’s cheap and easy, and a whole lot of fun. Plus who doesn’t want a tasty dessert after a great meal!
Take Advantage of BOGO
So many restaurants offer sweet deals to get customers in the door to spend money. I often get coupons in the mail, and my wife in her email, trying to lure us in for a Buy One, Get One Free deal. Caribou is a frequent flyer for emails, and we recently got a Qdoba coupon in the mail. When we were working to pay off our student loans, we chose not to go out to eat, and maybe you’re trying to avoid going out to eat too. Keep working on your goals! But if you get a coupon, and it fits into your budget, it makes for a pretty cheap, fun date night or date day. Plus you get the bonus of not having to cook or clean up for one night!
Wrapping It Up
I believe date night is a super important investment in any relationship, but I don’t think it needs to break your budget. Get creative and explore cheap/free date nights in your area!
Let Me Know in the Comments
What are your favorite cheap or free dates?