As spring approaches, we find ourselves immersed in the season of love. And while that’s all well and good, if you trying to achieve a big financial goal, you might be wondering how to make date night work on a budget. Not to worry, I have some ideas that might help.
Know Your Budget First
Before we jump into some alternative activities for a budget-friendly date night, though, it’s critical that you know your budget first.
Do you have additional money to put toward a night out with your significant other? If so, how much?
If the answer is no, you don’t have any additional money, then make sure you both understand that ahead of time. There’s nothing worse than one person having an expectation that’s not met. Especially on a night that’s supposed to be fun for both of you.
So, make sure to check that budget ahead of time.
Consider Low-Cost Date Night Alternatives
Early on in our marriage, Justin and I were broke. I’ve told the story a lot and you can find more about it HERE, but the simple truth is that we had no extra money for date nights. That meant that as newlyweds, we had to get creative. Personally, I’m so glad we had that opportunity because some of the ideas I’m sharing with you today are still our preferred date-night activities.
One of my favorite memories from our first few years of marriage was taking hikes together. A family member gave us a travel book all about scenic hikes in our area and we spent time together planning our weekend trip to a nearby trail. We saw waterfalls, wildlife, scenic bridges and more and, aside from the small amount of gas to get there, it didn’t cost us a thing. I still look back at the pictures we took and remember how much fun it was simply to be together exploring in a way that neither of us had done before.
While it’s not a completely free option, you can save money by purchasing food as take out instead of eating in a restaurant. Justin and I used to have these types of “date nights” after the older girls went to bedroom time for the night. Not only did we save money on a babysitter, but we were able to make our own drinks at home, saving additional money, and we (normally) didn’t have to tip the waitstaff either.
We all know that going to the movie theater can rack up a huge bill, so why not recreate the experience at home? Rent a movie or watch one you’ve had for awhile. Even an “expensive” movie rental will cost less than the tickets you’d purchase at the theater. And, a small bag of popcorn kernels from the grocery store will ensure you have many fun-filled movie nights in your future.
Maybe it’s just me, but I love people watching. Airports, shopping malls, bookstores, and even your local grocery store can provide hours of entertainment as you watch peoples antics. The great thing is that there’s normally no cost to this kind of activity and, depending on the location, you may even find a nice bench or set of chairs to sit in while you do so. You can even take it a step further and make up fictional stories about the people you see.
Tip: Don’t stare. That makes people feel uncomfortable.
Embrace Happy Hour
If you do have a little leeway in your budget or have already planned ahead for a night out, consider embracing happy hour. You’ll still have that great restaurant experience without the high price tag of a traditional dinner. You might even choose to have appetizers and drinks and then head home for the main meal.
This is something that Justin and I have done for years. Not only do we beat the dinner rush, but we are home in plenty of time to watch a movie or catch an episode of our favorite show. It’s the best of both worlds, in my opinion.
Change the Time
Dinner is typically the most expensive meal of the day so if you have some flexibility in your schedule, breakfast or lunch might be the better option. This can also be an effective solution if childcare is hard to come by. Play dates often happen during the day and older grandparents may be more willing to participate if they don’t have to drive late at night.
If you are someone who can “look and not buy” then window shopping can be a fun date. Justin and I like to go browse and use the time to dream about changes we might want to make in our home, or things we might like to incorporate into our future. Think things like new dishes, bathroom tile, or fish for a future aquarium. Not only does this “dreaming” give us a common goal, but it help with ideas for future birthdays and other holidays, too. Not to mention, if we find something we really want, we’re all that more motivated to stick to the budget and make it happen.
Still have your sights on that dinner out at a fancy restaurant with drinks and dessert? If that’s the case, it’s time to consider how to save the money you need to make it happen.
You might consider:
…or another method that allows you to save a little more and have that expensive night out.
Keep in mind that your budget is there to help you achieve your goals. It’s not meant to make your life miserable. So, take the time to decide what really matters to you and your significant other, so that you can prioritize those things. It won’t last forever, so make adjustments as needed.
Schedule Your Date Night On a Budget
So, what will you choose for your next budget-friendly date night? The sky is the limit, but only as far as your budget will take you. Then, you have to get creative!
Whatever you choose, I’m here to support you in your budgeting journey. You can:
…or jump into the Lemon Blessings’ Membership for an insider’s look at all of my personal meal plans, recipes, grocery lists, budget worksheets, and more.
Remember, if you don’t ask for the help you need, you’ll never get it!
Cheering you on!