Go Ahead and Be a Cheap Date


Cheap Isn’t Necessarily Bad

Sure, there’s a lot of over-thinking that goes into a first date. It’s only natural. For a while, couples seem to exude creativity and great date ideas. Then, one day, life catches up with every young couple, even the ones that vowed they’d never let that happen. Dates become more routine for the lucky and non-existent for the rest of us. Jobs, kids, bills, and the beautiful mess of life can take over and eliminate dates. Then, when they do happen, we set these really high expectations. You get dressed up, go out, spend a fortune and then fuss over the details of why you’re not connecting like you once did.

Perhaps the general high-maintenance of dating is the very reason it falls off the side of our lives. What if dating your spouse was simple, straightforward and, well, flat-out cheap? Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, if it was like that, it’d probably happen more often, and that is precisely what I am hinting at. Think outside of the overused dinner-and-a-movie routine. I am guessing that in doing so, you’ll start to remember what it felt like to date. You’ll recall that feeling where you can’t possibly find enough time to put all your amazing ideas into practice. Rekindle some romance and put on your thinking cap.

Use the “B” Word

I am talking about budget, not that other “B” word you’re probably thinking of…that other one has nothing to do with dates, I hope. If it does, then we’ve got bigger fish to fry.

Instead you want to focus on your budget. Your budget is your friend, and it’s going to enable dates, not eliminate them. Don’t assume there’s no room in the budget for a date because that’s a lame excuse. Sit down together, look at the books, make a plan and regardless of the outcome, make a line item for your dates. They are vitally important. If you’re still having trouble prioritizing dates, then ask yourselves if you want to be a vibrant, happy couple, or if you’re content to grow stale with age. If you’d like that vivacity and want to enjoy many years together, give those dates the priority. Don’t give up if they’re awkward at first. If it’s been a long time since you tried to reconnect, it might take more than a few attempts before things start to work out easily again.

Perhaps you’re thinking that childcare is an inhibitor for your date nights. Fortunately, there’s no reason why you need to pay someone to look after your children. Start a co-op with other couples with kids. Exchange coupons for babysitting to help you keep track of who is due for a date night. Those other people with kids probably could use a date night as much as you could. Joining forces might even provide a deeper level of help to each other. Think of it as a co-op of people investing in healthy relationships. There’s nothing more important. Not even your job.


Do some stargazing together.

Take a blanket. Just one. Remember, this isn’t intended for your greatest comfort, but for togetherness. If you must, bring a really big blanket. Take some vino or build a small fire and make s’mores. Let the fire die and watch the sky. You’ll find that there’s a lot to see. You could even check out a calendar and find the best night to watch stars. Get as far from city lights as you can and just sit out. If you want, invest in a book on the stars and learn to identify some of the constellations.

Dance the night away.

Hiring a dance instructor is intimidating for some and also hits the pocketbook kinda hard. Rent a learn-to-dance video at the library and take a laptop to a local park at night. Set it up and take a free, private dance lesson together. If you know how to dance, bring a boombox and dance the night away under the stars. How very romantic that sounds!

Write love poems.

What do you think Shakespeare was all about? Love used to be two people communicating how they felt about each other. It has been a bit reduced in our distracting world, but you’re with that person for a reason. Finding words for it might just kindle even deeper sparks. Don’t bring a computer for this. Instead actually write your poetry, you know, with paper and pencil, and then read your poetry to the love of your life.

Read books aloud.

Movies are the same idea, but a lot less interactive. Grab a book from your library. Pick the book out together and then go someplace to read it. Think of new things. Go to the mall and find a bench to sit on and read the book to each other. There are other places designed for sitting and talking besides restaurants.

Attend a poetry slam.

Poetry slams are free entertainment. Poets get up and read their work and seek feedback from the audience. Whether you’re a fan of written verse or not, it’ll definitely be something you’ll remember. It’s also guaranteed to provide something to talk about.

Volunteer together.

Why not let your date be a time to give back together. Not only will you do something beneficial for others, you’ll also get to see one another in a new light. Take a look at your spouse helping other people and see how that sits. It’s guaranteed to be a good look on him or her.

Make something of it.

Go out and find things that catch your eye. Whether it’s a pretty-looking bunch of rocks or flowers to be pressed, or you can find things you can turn into a collage. Collect things and make them into something that you will want to keep.

Above all: dare to be different. When you see yourselves fitting neatly into a box, do everything you can to change it up. Don’t settle for the routine. Get out there and make something beautiful of your relationship. Believe there’s plenty worth working for and put in some effort on a daily basis. If you wake up every day and believe the best of your spouse, it’s going to be noticed. Have fun together. Don’t be afraid to act like the silly young lovers you remember.

Do you have any fun, inexpensive date night ideas?


Go Ahead and Be a Cheap Date — 16 Comments

  1. Wow, what a great post. We recently made friends with another family. We share babysitting and Mr. 1500 and I have had our first real dates in 6 years. Knowing their parenting style is key, and we share a lot of the same child-rearing views.

    I love love love the Poetry Slam idea. I went to one many moons ago, and you are right, it is something I will never forget. I heard some really great poetry, and also some of the worst poetry ever. A really fun time, and held at a bar so I could have an adult beverage as well.

    Costco periodically sells movie tickets at a huge discount, but there are also second-run theaters that cost a lot less. The second run theater near me has better popcorn than the main theater!

    Another cheap date could be Ikea. Drop your kids off at their in-store kid care (potty trained only, and they have height criteria as well) and then go have dinner in their cafeteria. A nice, quiet dinner, fairly decent food and very inexpensive.

  2. Dominique,
    It’s hard to beat an evening walk with my lady. We get to chat, people watch and stop for a drink or dessert if we feel whimsical. We’re also big fans of making dinner together. Before we go out with friends, we always make sure to have a few drinks at home first to save a few bucks at the bars.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

  3. We sometimes just lay around and play video games together. If we want to get out of the house, then we do a picnic or go to the dog park. Believer it or not, going to wash the car (at the self wash car wash) is always something fun for us to do. We get to bond and we finish an errand.

  4. There’s lots of things that can be done together that don’t need money but I think our favourite is to have people round to dinner. That is much cheaper, better and particularly if you have kids, more convenient at least for the hosts! And you don’t have to worry about the restaurant closing.

    In fact with our new 42″ TV our son had friends round for a movie, a bunch of pizzas and a sleepover for his birthday. Just cost the rent of a movie and was much cheaper than taking them all to the cinema. We could have made the pizzas ourselved in principle!

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