Having a wonderful time doesn’t have to break the bank!
Disclaimer- I’m not saying you should never indulge in the occasional ‘splurge’; my husband has spoiled me rotten on multiple occasions, and I appreciate those moments as well. However, there definitely is a LOT of pressure (on BOTH genders!) to go far above and beyond on every.single.date. You become trapped into the mentality that you have to out-do yourself each date with more extravagance than the last one. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself in a palace off the Italian coast beneath diamond chandeliers dripping in orchids wondering- “how the absolute heck am I gonna PAY for this!?”
(Ok, maybe it’s not quite THAT dramatic…)
But it still feels like there’s an unspoken cultural expectation that being in a relationship is inevitably going to drain your wallet.
I’m all about celebrating special moments and making the most out of your time together, but I also think it’s important to note that some of the sweetest moments in a relationship are the spontaneous, unexpected moments. After all, you don’t need a fancy restaurant or a travel agent to enjoy the company of the person you love! It’s so refreshing and fun to shake up the routine and try something out of the ordinary together.
(With the added perk of spending much less moolah than a typical ‘dinner-and-a-movie’ date night!)
So, today I’d love to share with you a few of my favorite low-budget or free date ideas. Each idea includes a little bonus tip at the end, so please stay tuned for those too! 🙂
If you’re married, you can try a couple of these ideas with your spouse.
If you’re dating, maybe you’ll surprise your significant other with your favorite frugal-friendly idea.
If you’re single, round up a group of your best friends and try something new.
There’s something in here for everyone! 🙂
So here we go…
Picnic in the Park
This is the perfect springtime date! Choose a park, load up a basket with an easy-to-carry lunch and a bottle of sparkling wine, and then take a walk to find the perfect spot to lay out your blanket and enjoy lunch in the sunshine.
Bonus: Before Kevin and I got engaged, we would go picnic in the park as we went through an incredible pre-engagement book together. It’s called ‘101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged’ by H. Normal Wright.
Some of the best conversations we’ve ever had were a direct result of this book- I would recommend it for any couple who is seriously dating! This book will spark conversations and insights that are unlikely to happen in the course of everyday life, and are so helpful in understanding one another in a deeper way!
Double-date Game Night
Dust off your board game collection and enjoy an evening of laughter and friendly competition alongside another couple! The types of games you enjoy say a LOT about your personality, so this is also a fun way to get to know your significant other as well as the other players around the table. If everyone brings their favorite snack, there will be plenty to share and it’ll keep the cost down. Keep it simple so you can focus on having fun and getting to know each other!
Bonus: Here are just a few game recommendations; Clue (the classic mystery game), Settlers of Catan (release your inner nerd), Wits & Wagers (faster-paced ‘party game’), Ticket to Ride (you know, that railroad game everyone is talking about), or a classic fast-paced card game like Nerts!
Bike Ride or Nature Walk
Get outside and enjoy nature! Soak up that sunny vitamin D together, and get some exercise while you’re at it. Most cities have greenways and nature trails where you can walk, jog or go biking. If you live in a larger city, you might even live nearby a park that offers free guided tours to point out wildlife, geological patterns, and other cool natural features!
Bonus: While bike riding the trails, keep an eye out for the occasional bench or fallen tree so you can sit and talk for awhile when you take a water break. Some of the most special moments I had with my husband while we were dating happened when we would park our bikes and sit in silence enjoying God’s creation together.
There will be a price tag on this idea, but you’d be surprised at how many dance centers and clubs offer season specials for a few weeks of lessons! When my husband and I were dating, we went swing dancing once a week and learned several dance styles in a fun and supportive environment. You’ll enjoy a marvelous time, get some exercise, and meet other people from all different levels of dancing experience! Plus, you gotta admit it would be nice to be able to do some other dance besides the Cha Cha Slide at the next wedding or party you attend, right? 😉
Bonus: Occasionally, you can find special deals on Groupon, or you could contact a local dance society and find out when they are running their membership specials. Do a quick google search for “[your city/town] swing dance society” and see what comes up!
Explore a new museum
Many museums offer free and/or discount evenings where you can peruse the galleries together and learn something fascinating about history. This would be a fun opportunity to get dressed up to go out someplace classy without spending much money!
Bonus: The internet has pages and pages of museum ideas, no matter where you live! Even though most of the suggestions are likely suggesting free days for students and families, you could still use those ideas for your own date night! Search for “[your city/town] free museum day” and scroll through the pages and blogs until a local museum catches your eye.
This is by far one of the best date ideas out there, even if only for the fact that you will get to know someone on an entirely new level when you serve alongside them! Side-by-side service is a shared experience that will build character, ignite conversation, and shed new light on one another’s personalities. This isn’t a ‘glamorous’ date; in fact, some people might even argue that this wouldn’t qualify as a date at all. However, I think that volunteering together is an absolutely valid way to get to know the person you care for, as you support a cause that is bigger than yourself. Give it a try! You might enjoy it enough to make it a weekly or monthly tradition.
Bonus: This idea would look different for each couple. Talk it over, decide which causes you care about the most as individuals, and then find which areas you have in common. From there, you’ll need to agree on a level of commitment and time frame that you are both comfortable with. Talk about how you plan to fully engage in the tasks you might be given, and plan in advance to serve with an open heart regardless of what happens. Two people running towards the same goal will inevitably grow closer, and that is a beautiful thing!
I hope you enjoyed these ‘Dating on a Budget’ ideas! I found it difficult to stop writing this article- there are SO many more wonderful budget-friendly date ideas I would have loved to include in this post. If you would like for me to share more ideas with you, please let me know! I would love to make a ‘sequel’ to this post sometime soon. There are so many fun and exciting ways to get to know someone without tossing aside your budget! If you have your own ideas to share, please feel free to leave a comment below- I’d love to hear from you.