Even though we hear that the recession is over, many of us are still concerned about making frugal decisions. Plus, you never know when another economic downturn will hit (or if we will end with a double-dip recession). One of the ways that you can save money is to plan fun, frugal dates. And dating isn’t just for unmarried couples; many long-time couples will tell you that regular dates are vital to the relationship. Going out on a date is a way to spend time with your significant other, talking about common interests and remembering why you like each other in the first place.
Whether you are just getting to know someone, or whether you have been in a committed relationship for years, you can go out without breaking the bank. Here are 7 fun, frugal date ideas that can help you enjoy your time together. Make sure you leave the kids at home.
- Picnic: When the weather is nice, it’s a great time to go on a picnic. Bring your lunch to the park and just sit and eat. Take your time, look about you. If there are walking trails nearby, or if there is a good, non-strenuous hike near your town, pack a picnic and go for a walk. Nature is beautiful, and you can talk while you walk, and enjoy conversation while you eat.
- Gallery walks, fairs, and other community events: Find out what local events take place in your town each year. My husband and I attend Summer Fest each year, wandering through art booths and enjoying live music. There is plenty to look at, and it’s free to see what the artists have set up (just guard your wallet from large purchases). We also have a gallery walk in town, and there are a number of community events and faires. Even if an entry fee is charged (like the indoor Christmas Faire in December), it is usually quite small.
- Agri-tourism: If there is a vineyard nearby, enjoy its beauty — and the often-free (or inexpensive) samples of wine. Other areas offer food tours, where you can visit strawberry fields or sample artisan cheese. When we lived in New York, going to the apple orchard for “pick your own apples” and a wagon ride was always fun. See what the locale has to offer, and then head out.
- Visit the beach: There are few places more romantic than the beach. If you live near the ocean, you can head to the beach at night. Do some star-gazing and talk. If you don’t live near the beach, try a nearby lake or riverbank. As long as the light pollution isn’t bad, you can still see the stars. It’s best, though, if you can find a place a little ways out of town. I used to love walking near the river of my hometown with a date at night. It gives you time to connect, and to enjoy nature.
- Learn your local history: Many towns have historic buildings, sites and other areas. Take a tour of historic monuments. Most allow ample time for you to move slowly and talk, while you learn something interesting about where you live. Bring a picnic to enjoy when you have finished your tour. If there are multiple buildings in your area, this can provide you with weeks’ worth of dates.
- University events: If there is a university in your town, you can usually get access to inexpensive concerts, plays, exhibitions and other cultural events. College sporting events are often usually much less. This is a great way to get out and have a little fun without spending a great deal.
- Stay in: If you can’t afford a babysitter (you could switch off with another family or start a babysitting co-op), you can still plan a date night. Plan a special “date” for after the kids go to their rooms. Send them to bed early, or at least to their rooms. Rent a movie you both want, and/or make dessert together. You could also make some popcorn and play a board game. The important thing is that you consciously make time to spend together, enjoying each other’s company. This is one relationship rule you can’t break.
Do you have some inexpensive date ideas?