You and your partner don’t need to stay in to save money or minimize credit card debt. Not every meal has to happen at a five-star restaurant. Anything you do as a couple can be enjoyable as long as it allows you and your partner to spend quality time together. In short, a great date doesn’t have to break the bank.
Money issues can cause stress in a relationship, and it can affect how you and your partner interact. If you are tired of skipping nights out because you are short on funds, here are some of our favorite, budget-friendly date night ideas.
Attend open mic night
An open mic night normally takes place at a local bar or coffee shop. These events allow people from the community to perform in front of an audience. You might see stand-up comedians, poets, songwriters, singers, and other creative people displaying their talents.
If you and your partner like to attend shows and concerts but you are trying to save money, an open mic night is a budget-friendly alternative. You can find them in your area by looking on social media or talking directly to the staff at your favorite coffee shop. Many open mic nights charge a small cover fee ($5 to $10), and you may want to set aside a few bucks to share a cool beer or a hot latte.
Attend a concert in the park
If the open mic night wasn’t musical enough for you, then perhaps maybe a concert in the park is more your style. These concerts are normally open to the public, free, and feature local singers and bands.
Bring a blanket or towel to sit on, pack some snacks, and find a good spot to enjoy the show. You might even find the courage to ask your date for a dance!
You can find information about local concerts in your area on social media platforms and on your town’s website. These kinds of events are popular in the summer months, but some towns hold concerts year-round.
Browse the public library
Most people wouldn’t consider the public library as a spot for a romantic date. But with a little imagination, it is the perfect place to spend time with your partner. The local library is free, and you can plan a variety of activities such as:
- Reading romantic poems and passages to your partner
- Choosing a book to take home that you know your partner would love
- Having a scavenger hunt for different types of books (you can work together or make it a competition)
Books have long been a source of romantic inspiration, and reading a love poem to your partner on Valentine’s Day can be an incredibly intimate experience. You could also speak to the librarians to get information about upcoming events such as workshops and author readings, most of which will be free or cost just a few bucks.
Cook a meal together
If you and your partner want to eat delectable dishes on a fast food budget you can bring the 5-star restaurant experience home. Light some candles, play music, open a (cheap) bottle of wine, and start cooking!
Cooking at home can include several different activities including :
- Surprise your partner with their favorite food
- Make a dish that originates from a random country
- Teach your partner how to make a recipe you grew up eating
- Have fun making a difficult recipe together
Preparing a meal together helps foster a feeling of cooperation and partnership in your relationship. It can also teach you more about your partner’s childhood, their culture, and their food preferences.
This activity can be as low-cost or as expensive as you would like. You can search for coupons for different ingredients, buy items that are on sale, and even use food that you grew yourself or bought at a local farmer’s market.
Spending time outdoors is always a breath of fresh air. Even better, it is a fulfilling experience that can save you money. Hiking improves your physical fitness, lets the sunshine in, lifts your mood, and gives you a chance to spend time alone with your partner.
Depending on where you live, you will have access to different hiking experiences. Taking your date to a state or national park may involve paying a small entrance fee, but there will be clearly marked paths, maps, and other resources to help keep you safe.
If you want to make your hike a bit more romantic, pack a picnic lunch or extend your walk into a camping trip. You can spend the night stargazing, sitting by the fire, and cooking campfire s’mores.
Walk a local nature trail
If you aren’t interested in going on a long hike or camping trip, finding a local nature trail is a fun alternative. You will find them in many towns and city parks. If you live by the coast, you can take a romantic walk along the beach or on the boardwalk. Nature trails aren’t normally as strenuous as long hikes, which gives you more space for bonding and conversation. A relaxing stroll can set the mood, improve your health and clear your head as you spend valuable quiet time getting to know each other.
Visit a botanical garden
Botanical gardens are a beautiful place to walk, talk, and learn about nature. Many botanical gardens offer information about the different plants, and some include artwork such as sculptures.
You may pay an entry fee, but many gardens provide local discounts which can save you money. Bring a snack, find a nice bench, and have a simple picnic to lengthen your stay. You and your partner can even get inspiration to begin planting your own garden!
Have a picnic
Picnics are a simple, romantic way to get out of the house. Pack a meal, play soft music on your phone, bring a soft blanket, and spend a few hours at the park or the beach with your partner.
If you are looking to make the picnic extra special, look for inspiration on sites like Pinterest to find the perfect picnic setup. Set up blankets, pillows, and fairy lights in the back of a pickup truck, or keep it simple with an oversized blanket on the beach.
Listen to music at the record store
If you have a music store in your town, you and your partner could spend the afternoon exploring the albums and sharing your favorite songs. Or you could spend the afternoon at the park, taking turns sharing songs on your iPad or iPhone. Find songs that:
- Remind you of your partner
- Were your favorite at one time
- Would fit into the perfect soundtrack for your relationship
- Help you create a playlist for your next picnic or date night
Music is a fantastic way to share your feelings with your partner. By playing songs that have special meaning to you, you can enhance feelings of emotional intimacy and love.
Plan a hypothetical vacation
Don’t have the funds for a vacation? That’s OK! Spend an evening planning a hypothetical vacation and doing activities that are connected to your dream location.
For example, perhaps you and your partner dream of visiting India. Plan your dream vacation to India, including popular attractions, hotels, restaurants, and experiences. Your only limit is your imagination! To end the night, try cooking Indian food at home, watching a Bollywood movie, or listening to popular Indian music.
Planning a hypothetical vacation might even motivate you to start saving for a weekend trip at a location a bit closer to home!
Play board games
Warning: this date night idea might end up being a bit louder than the others. If you like playing games, and you enjoy competition, then playing board games should be on your list. There are many games two people can play, and if you want to make the night more exciting, place bets on the outcomes (“whoever loses this game does the dishes for the rest of the week”).
If you want to get more people involved, invite another couple over and have a double-date game night.
If you and your partner are both passionate about a specific issue, volunteering is one way you can spend more time together. It enables you to help people in your community while exploring your common interests.
Some options for volunteering locally include:
- Food banks
- Homeless shelters
- Animal shelters
- After-school tutoring programs
Helping others will give you and your partner a sense of accomplishment, allow you to make a difference in your community, and provide the opportunity to strengthen your partnership.
Watch the sunrise/sunset
Last, but certainly not least, watch the sunrise or sunset — or both. Starting the day or ending the day watching beautiful colors paint the sky is a wonderful way to spend some quiet, quality time with your partner.
Watch the sunrise or sunset from your bedroom window or your balcony/porch, or leave your house and find a beautiful spot to watch the show. The beach, the park, or a public lookout in your city are all good options.
No matter what you do for date night, the important thing isn’t how much money you spend, but how much quality time you have with that special someone. Going to the music store or watching the sunset can be more special and intimate than any five-star meal.