Living on a budget and trying to carve out quality time with your spouse can be frustrating.
For most couples, the go-to date night activity is dinner and a movie. My husband and I typically go out to dinner each Friday evening now that we have teens to babysit. When our kids were little, we had to add in the cost of quality child care, and we went out rarely. A few hours connecting with your spouse away from the kids becomes an expensive proposition!
However, keeping that date night resolution should be a priority in our marriage – it helps us remember what it’s like to be a couple and enjoy each other without the kids, so coming up with ways to do date night on a budget is important.
Date night doesn’t have to be expensive. Because we are busy, we tend to get into a rut when it comes to planning evenings out. We automatically go for the most comfortable solution instead of trying to plan an evening that both spouses will enjoy. That dinner and a movie that costs so much becomes the thing that’s done simply because it’s easy.
However, with a little out of the box thinking, you can put together a fun date night experience that doesn’t break the bank! Here are some ideas to keep your date night on a budget.
Date Night on a Budget: Skip the Restaurants
If you have spent any time at all living on a budget, you have probably come to recognize the high cost of eating out. The ideal date night restaurant would be somewhere with great ambiance and a menu that doesn’t include chicken nuggets; that’s not likely to be budget friendly! Instead, have dinner at home as a family, and then head out for the rest of your evening together without the kids and try some of these date night ideas sans dinner!
Trade Child Care to keep your Date Night on a Budget
Child care can be one of the biggest expenses for couples who are trying to carve out some hard-earned child-free togetherness. Even your trusty teen neighbor is likely to charge a premium for those high-demand weekend slots. Instead, find another couple and offer to trade child care for date night. For one date night a month, your savings will be significant. Plus, you have the added bonus of helping your kids build friendships! If you cannot trade childcare with another couple, consider booking a sitter for a less premium time, such as Sunday afternoon. The cost might be greatly reduced.
Make Your Date Night Productive While You Keep it on Budget!
I know a couple who have a standing Saturday morning breakfast date. Their children are older now, but when they were younger, they would ask the grandparents to take over for a few hours. They leave the house early, grab breakfast at their favorite diner, and then head out to tackle some of their errands together, without the kids in tow. (It is amazing how quickly you can get the grocery shopping done without the children asking for fourteen boxes of cereal!)
Once the errands are handled, they spend some time indulging in their shared passion: antiquing. While it’s not a traditional date, they are still getting precious one-on-one time together, and they are minimizing gas costs by combining the time with errands they would have to run anyway.
Stay on Budget for Date Night by Staying Home
I’m not suggesting that you skip date night. Instead, use the opportunity provided by trading child care, or ship the kids off to grandma’s, so that you and your spouse can spend a quiet evening at home. Your favorite shrimp scampi dish that the kids will not touch? Cook it together for a fun kitchen experience. Follow up by cuddling together on the couch while watching that R-rated movie you have been waiting to watch. No phones or devices allowed! Finish up your evening with a relaxing massage. Add candles for a touch of romance!
Get Outside and Play!
These are all free or cheap options that can be fun and romantic too! One of my favorite memories with my husband was our hike out to Ka’ena Point. The hike was free, the camaraderie was free, and we made memories together.
Free hikes are everywhere! You don’t have to be in Hawaii as we were to enjoy one! Head to a local park for a game of (free) disc golf, or spend an afternoon at the lake. Explore local hiking trails that you haven’t hit for years, or walk around the capital building during the holidays. Make plans to hit “Taste of” festivals or neighborhood celebrations. Explore a historic neighborhood on foot or check out the local car shows.
Although it is romantic, date night doesn’t have to be about staring longingly into each other’s eyes over glasses of champagne while a waiter brings escargot to the table. Date night should be about connecting with your spouse without the kids. It’s a time to turn off the stresses of work and parenting, unplug from the rest of the world, and shrink your universe. That can be done on a blanket at the beach or over free popcorn at the Farm Store.
As long as you make your time matter, and take the time to remind each other that spouses come first, then you’re honoring the commitment to date night!