10 frugal date ideas. Each one of these dates is under $50. Also I want the reader to note that we live in the Great Plains so if there are any East Coast or West Coast readers out there your dates might cost a little bit more. Just because you are going out does not mean that you have to spend a lot of money on your dates to make them enjoyable. In fact, now as a married person I find that going out or staying in with a purpose gives Karen and me some time to talk about things other than work, the house, or family. It allows us to just have fun. Just because we are married does not mean that we should not have dates. I am a firm proponent of date night and I am sure the importance of having some time just being ‘the two of us’ will become more important after we have children.
1. Go to a local State Park or Wildlife Refuge – Most local state parks or wildlife refuges are free or have a low admission fee. Pack a cooler and a picnic basket for the day so you do not have to go to a restaurant or fast food joint. Also, a couple of days before you have your date do a little research online or the local library to see if there is any information about where you are going that way you have a plan ahead for what you will do and see when you get there.
2. Flea Market or Antiquing – Most towns or cities will have a flea market or antique mall area, usually in the downtown area. Each of you gets $20 to spend, which you do not have to spend. Make a deal that whoever can get the greatest cheapest thing for their $20 gets to pick where you will have lunch. Use the last $10 and whatever change you have leftover to pay for lunch, or just share a dessert and save a few bucks. You have to explain why you think what you bought is great, and of course if you do not buy anything you have to explain why you thought everything in the store was not worth spending your hard earned money on. Both of you should keep in mind that this is not an argument but an exercise in communication.
3. Go to a Museum, Art Gallery, or Zoo – Museums and zoos usually offer multiple hours of entertainment at a relatively small cost as long as you do not eat there. (We were at an art museum one time while we were on vacation and were so hungry the $12.00 club sandwich was actually looking good. Luckily we kept or wits and went to the subway across the street). Make sure you go someplace that you both will like. If your guy is not into art you might want to skip that one and guys, no matter how much you want to see the combat museum, she might want to do something else. Better yet take turns, one week you go someplace she really wants and the next time go someplace he wants to see.
4. Couples Board Game Night or Poker – Call up your friends and set up a couple’s board game night or if everybody is into poker have a couple’s poker night. Whoever is hosting needs to set out their favorite board games. Make sure you have two or three for everybody to pick from. If it is your first time, make sure it is an easy one to learn or a game that almost everybody has probably played. Some of our favorites to play are Scattergories, taboo, or a new game we were just introduced to by some close friends called Wahoo. Later you can move on to more challenging games like Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride. If board games are not your specialty a couple’s poker night might be fun. Have a small ante limit and a set buy-ins of $10 to $20 per person or couple. Make sure to have plenty of snacks.
5. Cook Together – You do not have to spend a lot of money to have a fancy meal. Make a list and go to the local market and get the supplies. Make sure the TV is off, put on a little music in the background, I prefer a little Sam Cooke or Amos Lee while Karen is more into Billy Joel or John Mayer, find a happy medium and cook together. Do not stop there. Set up some candles and put on a table cloth, if you do not have one find an old white sheet, and set the mood of a fancy restaurant without leaving home.
6. Go to a Minor League Game or Arena Football – If you live in, or close enough to, a large town you will have the opportunity to go and see a professional sports game. Now the pro games you see on TV have ticket prices that are usually outrageous or you have to sit in the nosebleed section, but if you go to a minor league game you can find a lot better deal and better seats. Of course, the minor league athletes are not going to be as athletic, but sometimes you will go and see somebody who will later become a star, which is pretty cool. Usually the semi-pro games are much faster without the TV timeouts and the athletes seem to hustle a lot more. If a minor league team or semi-pro team is not in your area go see a small college game.
7. Dinner and a Movie at Home– Movie ticket prices are so expensive anymore. Sometimes it is just better to wait to see it at home. One of my favorite date nights is going to pick up dinner and renting a movie. Alot of resturants have pickup windows and you can not get much cheaper than a redbox movie. It beats having to listen to cell phones going off or watch lights pop up everywhere because the other patrons are busy texting. Furthermore, the price of movie tickets is about the same and sometimes more expensive than picking up a meal and renting a movie. Ticket prices at our local theater are about $10.00 a ticket or $15.00 to see it in 3D.
8. Get Moving – Now exercise might not seem like that good of a date idea, but going out for a hike, bike ride, or rollerblading is a great way to have some laughs and get a chance to talk. Whatever you decide to do, leave the cell phone at home or in the car, if that is not a possibility at least put it on vibrate and only answer it if it is an emergency i.e. babysitter is calling. No, a text message from a friend, boss, or family member usually does not constitute an emergency. If you are usually walking or riding a bike around the neighborhood as part of your fit lifestyle branch out and go to a park you usually do not go to. Bring a snack and refreshments that way you do not have to cut your time short because you are getting hungry or thirsty.
9. Learn a New Skill – Go to your local library or book store and find a book on a skill that you both want to gain knowledge about and learn it together. This not only gives you something to talk about, but also some laughs along the way. Spend the day trying to get better at it and remember it is ok to laugh at each other, but only if the other person is laughing along. If one of you is able to get it down before the other do not tease them, try to help them out. Some suggestions could be juggling, magic tricks, bird calls, or a sport.
10. Lunch and a Matinee – Now I know number 7 was dinner and a movie at home, but sometimes movies just need to be seen on the big screen. Avatar or the latest Harry Potter movies are two good examples. Check your local movies listings, sometimes matinees end at noon on the weekend so go and see an early show and have lunch after, or if the local theater has matinee prices until 5:00 eat lunch and then go and see a movie. Lunch is usually cheaper then dinner at most restaurants and you will also save money on the matinee.
Over the next couple of months Karen and I will go on each one of these dates and report back the cost and describe the pros and cons of each one. We will wrap it up by ranking all 10 dates. Stay tuned and let us know what your favorite frugal date is.
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