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So…what do you want to do for date night?
Does this conversation sound familiar? It does in my house.
It’s so easy to get into a routine of doing the same date on repeat.
- movie night
- take out
- watch your favorite tv show
Those three seem to rotate pretty often for us, but there’s so much more you can do to add fun and romance to date night, without spending ridiculous amounts of money.
I’m a firm believer that just because you’re trying to get out of debt or live on a budget, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun on date night.
And when your creativity is broken, you can pull out this list of cheap date ideas that are romantic and you can do a lot of these cheap dates at home.
Since we started dating in 2013, we have made date night a non-negotiable. [Update – this gets SO MUCH HARDER with kids. Oof!] And it’s been one of the best decisions for our marriage
I’m going to share 17 cheap date ideas that will hopefully put some spice into your date night routine and keep you under budget!
You don’t need to break the bank with an expensive dinner out.
Your financial goals (like being debt free) don’t need to suffer for a fun night with your partner!
If you need a budget to help you track your spending and ensure you have plenty for date night, grab a monthly budget spreadsheet for $5! You can also grab a debt snowball spreadsheet or the Debt Free Playbook if getting out of debt is on your “to-do” list.
Cheap Date Ideas When You have No Money
This list isn’t exhaustive and by no means perfect. It includes some of our absolute FAVORITE cheap date ideas on a budget and a wide variety of relaxing and active dates.
I broke the list down into categories because my brain works in categories. Skip around and find your favorite cheap date night ideas and find new ones!
At the end of the article you can download a free PDF of all of these cheap date ideas. Oh what the heck, you can click here to download it too.
Most of these are COVID friendly. The rest are good to keep in your back pocket when we’re not in a global pandemic.
Cheap Movies and Matinees
Movie nights are classic date night idea, so let’s cover it right away.
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. 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!
It might feel silly rearranging the furniture or sitting under blankets, but that’s what makes it fun.
We love doing this! We move the couch and chairs around, put blankets over them, and snuggle up on the floor. Sometimes we even throw down an air mattress to make it more comfy.
Watch a Streaming Show Together
It’s so easy to bulldoze and binge through a show on Netflix.
I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been there. But what if you watched a show slowly and deliberately, one or two episodes at a time?
Choose a show you both want to watch and make it an intentional event every time you watch it.
- get your comfy clothes on
- find yummy snacks
- pour a beverage
- snuggle up and watch your show with intention
It’s easy to binge watch, but it’s fun and intentional to go through a show slowly and together. Give it a try.
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. We did this one year and had a blast.
I was Irish and Jenna was British and we were traveling for our honeymoon. Our accents are terrible (getting better all the time though), but it was a ton of fun.
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
I’m a huge fan of being active, even if I don’t do it as often as I should.
One of my favorite things about getting out of the house with my wife is that it seems that no matter what we do, two things happen:
- we spend less time on our phones
- we talk a lot about things that matter and are important to us
That’s why I always love outdoor dates. It’s a wonderful chance to connect and build intimacy.
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. Let’s be honest, you’ll probably get a good laugh if you don’t ever play. Embrace it and have fun.
My wife doesn’t play golf at all, but we make it a point to go to the driving range once a year.
We spend $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 an extremely 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. Investing in your partner’s love language is a perfect way to enjoy any date, whether it’s on a budget or not.
If you have the right equipment, these are also cute dates that don’t cost money.
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. New hobbies can be expensive, so you don’t want to go all in on a hobby you try one time.
And here’s some more inspiration for cheap hobbies to try on a budget.
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! It’s a perfect date idea for no money!
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!
Walks in our neighborhood and hiking trails have sparked some of the best conversations in our marriage where we talk about goals, life, beliefs, and our future.
It’s the best.
I’ve never done this, but it sounds amazing!
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!
Head to the official site to learn more about geocaching.
Games and Cozy Indoor Dates
Play Board Games and Card Games
My wife hates games, so this isn’t a popular date for us, but I know a lot of couples whose ideas of a fun date night is to play board games . 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 or run to the store for dessert.
It helps keep it fun and exciting!
My wife LOVES puzzles.
We just bought a new puzzle from Target and are so excited to drink wine and put our puzzle together. The puzzle was $10 and the box of wine was $20.
This date will last for HOURS, possibly even multiple date nights, and the wine will last for weeks.
That’s a lot of value and quality time for $30. Way better than a take out or going out for a fancy date (pre-Covid).
Reading and Snuggling
This is one of our favorite dates.
We both love reading and my top love languages are quality time and touch. Grab a hot beverage, a warm blanket, and snuggle up with your partner on the couch. Read for hours and enjoy being close to each other.
If you have kids, this definitely needs to happen during nap time or after your kiddo goes to bed.
But you could also work in small doses build up stamina for your little one to love books too. Spread books out on the floor and say, “we’re having family reading time. Everyone gets to read their own book.”
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
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.
This is also a pretty solid first date idea, and it gets out of the traditional mold of going to a coffee shop or out for drinks.
Bring a deck of cards and get tiramisu at a restaurant with a view. You can get ice cream or a delicious piece of cake. 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 get coupons in the mail all the time, and my wife in her email.
When cheap date ideas wander into your inbox, why not take advantage of it?
Caribou Coffee 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. But if you get a coupon, and it fits into your budget, it makes the top of my list for cheap date ideas on a budget.
Plus you get the bonus of not having to cook or clean up for one night!
Sign up for an Online Cooking Class
Okay, this might not be a cheap date idea, but it’s SO worth it if you have room in your budget.
One of our FAVORITE shows is Top Chef, and one of the former winners started offering online cooking classes during COVID.
They range from $50-100 (so not cheap), but how cool is it that we had a professional chef on Zoom teaching us how to cook shrimp and grits?!
Very cool. That’s how cool it is!
If you’re a fan of the show, it’s Kelsey. You can find out what her newest classes are at EatKBC.
What are Your Favorite Cheap Date Ideas on a Budget?
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 date ideas in your own backyard (you can literally go camping for free in your backyard).
And before you go, grab that monthly budget spreadsheet. It’s $5 and has the power to help you spend money on things you actually care about and none of the crap you don’t.
If you want more money saving tips and tricks, get on my email list. As a bonus you’ll get a debt snowball spreadsheet to help you organize and get out of debt.
Download the Cheap Date Ideas Printable and hang it on your fridge. Or keep it hidden and surprise your partner with a bunch of fun date ideas! You’ll up your fun and romance game for sure!
Our budget and goals changed our lives and it can change yours too.
As an Educator and Personal Finance Blogger, Jamie has helped hundreds of families learn how to budget, save money, and pay off debt (go here to subscribe and start your debt free journey). Read our debt free story, “How We Paid Off $73,000 of Debt in Less Than Four Years”.