What seems like ages ago, we had six kids under ten, no babysitters, and no money to speak of. Dating, when it happened, had to be cheap because we had to pay for a babysitter for six kids!
I remember those days well, and also remember the day we realized, our oldest is old enough to babysit, we can go out on dates now whenever we want. Except money. So inexpensive date ideas are marriage-savers at this stage in life!
Mama, wherever you are on that spectrum right now, it is just a season and too soon, you won’t have kids at home at all and dates can happen every day. So this post is not meant to make you feel guilty about not dating, but rather to encourage you to work now to keep your marriage strong so that in just a few short years when your kids are grown, you still enjoy your spouse and have a relationship!
Dating is a great way to keep your marriage strong, but when you are already struggling to make ends meet and have kids too young to be home alone, dating seems like an overwhelmingly impossible task master. Well, the good news is you do not have to be well-off to go on dates. There are plenty of fun inexpensive date ideas that won’t break the bank.
Honestly, once you both accept that dates don’t always need to include dinner and a movie, it’s incredibly freeing to find fun budget-friendly dates you both enjoy.
1- Date When you Aren’t Hungry
Meals are not an essential part of a date. Instead of going out to dinner, go out after or before dinner time. Just getting dessert to share can cut your date cost by 70%, making it one of the most perfect inexpensive date ideas! If you can’t afford even a dessert to share, choose one of the no-cost options instead and don’t be discouraged about it. This is just a season.
2- Cook Together
Whether or not you can get along in the kitchen says a lot about your personalities. If it’s too much to cook together from scratch, throw a pizza in the oven and call it a night. This can be one of those super-cheap or free date ideas. I mean, it’s kinda a freebie because you were going to have to cook anyway.
You can put the kids in front of a movie and have a lot of fun with this, or cook a separate meal for the two of you after the kids are in bed.
3- Rent a Movie From the Library
Want to have a movie date? Skip the pricey theater seating and check out a movie or two from your local library, for free. Even if you rent a movie from your cable network, it’s still a lot cheaper than going to a movie. Plus, you won’t be tempted to spend extra money on popcorn and soda.
Plan a movie night when you can put the kids in bed and watch together in peace and quiet. And plan ahead for conversation afterward too! If you don’t purpose to talk and make the movie a relational event (a true date) you may end up where one of you goes off to bed halfway through or you go your separate ways after and it’s not really a date-worthy event.
Make it special, that’s what I’m saying. With all of these inexpensive date ideas, you will still need to purpose to make it special so that it’s not just normal, run-of-the-mill life.
4- Bike Around Town
If you both enjoy bike riding, even if it has been several years, consider a leisurely bike ride for two around town as a great way to bond and enjoy time together. Grab your helmets and explore the town while chatting it up. Some bigger cities even have bikes known as Lime Bikes. You can rent these bikes for super cheap. To add a special touch, pack a small picnic to enjoy along the way.
5- Watch the Sunset
Cheesy? Maybe. But watching the sunset is a great way to wind down for the day and enjoy deep conversation, so I call that romantic. The best part about sunsets is the conversation. Where we live, we have a fantastic park on a river where we can watch the sunset over water from a park bench and it’s perfectly beautiful and free.
In fact, this reminds me that we need to head over there for sunset again now that the leaves are turning. I love this inexpensive date idea!
6- Game Night
When is the last time you and your spouse played cards? I love to play cards with my family, but I’m guessing my husband and I haven’t played a card game just the two of us since we were dating in college. But we had so much fun back then! Card play banter is a fun, no-pressure way to bring a little flirting back into your marriage. Put on your poker face and grab some cards for a fun-filled night.
7- Eat During Happy Hour
If you absolutely must go out to eat, consider going out during happy hour when appetizers are cheap, and enjoy an appetizer meal. It’s probably not super healthy, but once in a while it’s a fun party-style meal and can save you money.
8- Go for a Walk or a Hike
One of my earliest memories of dating while married, twenty five years ago, includes a beautiful hike with our puppy in John Bryant State Park (Ohio). It’s a hike we still talk about to this day, but it’s not a difficult hike, just really pretty and pleasant. And also our first of many.
If you can’t find a local place to hike, a nice walk around the local park or your neighborhood is still a great inexpensive date idea you can enjoy. Pick a nice day and head out for a stroll with your sweetie.
9- Have a Picnic
Even if it is just peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or salads, a picnic is a super cheap way to enjoy a date with your spouse. Picnics are a lost art. They are such a fun and creative way to spend time together. Take some cards or a checker board and just be together.
10- Go to a College Play
Why not take your date to a local play at the college or high school nearby? Or maybe even a dress rehearsal, if you are looking to keep it extra cheap. You’d be surprised as to how good some of these plays are! The college students really put their hearts and souls into the plays.
The other cool thing about plays is that afterwards you can have incredible conversations about what you’ve just seen and heard. This is one of our favorite inexpensive date ideas!
11- Build a Snowman
Do you get snow in your area? If so, a nice snowfall makes for the perfect date. Work together to create a snowman, and warm up inside afterward with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. The only tricky part will be keeping your kids inside so that it’s truly a couple’s event without kids.
12- Go Garage Saleing
You could come up with a list of needed items and wish list items ahead of time, and make this a game to see how much you can find on each other’s lists. You can also set budget limits, and save out a little bit of cash to have a quick bite to eat somewhere cheap. If you need a babysitter, offer to trade with some friends so that both couples can get some much needed time away.
Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or shelter. Volunteering is a compassionate way to spend your date nights. You’ll grow as a couple and learn so much together about each other and the world we live in.
14- Read a Book Together
Check out two separate copies of the same book, and read them during some downtime. Discuss the book on your next date at home! It’s like having your own little book club, and so fun to hear each other’s perspectives on what a book is all about.
Exercise is a great way to release endorphins, and sore muscles make a great excuse to ask for a massage. Staying in shape together can help you bond. Plus, going on a run together or being weight lift partners can help your relationship and your wallet.
Exercising together definitely gives you a bunch of cheap or free date ideas. Run different trails each time, find an outdoor workout station at a local park, or even stream an exercise video together! The possibilities are endless.
Marriage is an adventure that lasts a lifetime, so it’s a good idea to keep that marriage strong in the years when you still have kids at home. But for sure it’s a challenge to find inexpensive date ideas you will both enjoy. I hope we’ve given you a solid foundation of ideas to build on.