Date Night on a Budget

By Christine H.

It’s no secret that a healthy relationship relies on one very important ingredient: time! However, as we get more settled into our relationships, and as life demands more and more from us, it’s incredibly difficult to make one-on-one time with your partner a priority.
Additionally, it’s hard to have date-nights of the same calibre as your early days of courting and romancing. Going out for dinner and a movie together, even just once a week, really adds up after a while. Eventually, you start to realize that keeping your relationship healthy and thriving might require a little bit of ingenuity. Here are some ideas to make date night continue to be special for you and your sweetheart… without putting a dent in your carefully-planned budget.
DIY Cooking Class
Have you ever looked up local cooking classes? Whether they’re at a local college, or provided by a professional chef, the prices can be really steep. However, you can get a very similar effect by putting in some planning at home. Either look up a YouTube tutorial by someone you like, or record a cooking show on the Food Network. Buy all the ingredients ahead of time, and then get ready to learn something new together! This can be a great date night because you have the activity and the meal all wrapped up in one. Just make sure you do the preparation ahead of time to have a seamless cooking experience in your own kitchen. That means no leftover dirty dishes from earlier in the day, and all the necessary tools within arm’s reach so that you’re not spending 20 minutes digging through stacks of pots and pans. Even if the dish turns out awful, you’ll have a fun experience together!
If cooking isn’t really your cup of tea, consider creating a different class together. For example, how fun would it be to sit down in front of a canvas and create something beautiful, as instructed by Bob Ross on The Joy of Painting? It’s easy to find recordings online, or at your local library.
Get Dessert (just dessert) at a Fancy Restaurant
There’s probably a restaurant in your area that you look at longingly. Candlelit tables, rave reviews, and hour-long waits all attest to its quality. However, it also comes at a price. Eating dinner there as a couple can easily cost you $100. And so, you sweep it off the table as an impossible date. Maybe you log it away as a “someday” possibility. Someday, when the kids are grown and you’ve both gotten significant promotions and the house is paid off and…
Well, maybe it’s time to think more creatively. After all, you don’t need to order two entrees, and appetizer, their second-nicest wine, and some after-dinner coffee in order to enjoy yourself at that restaurant. Dessert itself probably costs $20 or less. So, cheat the system! Split a Subway sandwich for dinner, and then head over for a late reservation at the restaurant. Enjoy the atmosphere and the delicious dessert! Dress up nice and take your time. Just tip generously in order to make up for the low tab. Looking for other ways to eat out but save oodles of money? Check out this link.
One for the Books
This is one of my favorite activities to do with people, but I understand that not everyone gets the thrill out of bookstores that I do. In any case, this is an excellent opportunity to show your appreciation for each other, so give it a try!
Alright, here’s how this activity is done: First, go out together to your local bookstore. Once there, you’re each assigned to split up and find 5 books (of course, you can pick a different number if you want.) Here’s the catch: each of these 5 books is supposed to make you think of the other person in some way. It could be that you remember that that’s their favorite poet that they studied in college. Or perhaps it’s the red dress worn by the girl on the cover. When you meet up again together after 30 minutes or so, you can share the books and explain why it made you think of them. This is a little bit of a reverse get-to-know-you game. Instead of sharing something about yourself, you’re sharing what you know about the other person. It will surprise you to see what your partner has noticed about you, and both of you will benefit from putting in a little bit of extra effort thinking about the other person.
Take a Hike
At first, this activity might seem like a bit of a copout. Hiking is just for nature junkies, right? Wrong. Science has proven that getting outside has amazing effects on our brains. It gets us out of our routine ways of thinking, elevates mood, eliminates stress, and can even have a positive effect on our interpersonal relationships. Isn’t that an experience that you want to share together? Look up some close-by hikes, dress accordingly, and bring some exciting trail snacks. In order to make sure things go smoothly, double-check the elevation gain per mile (which will help you determine if it’s rigorously steep) as well as very specific directions to the trail head.
City Walks
Alright, so maybe you’re not a couple that likes to explore the great outdoors. You can still benefit from a walk together. If you live close to a major city, there are probably a lot of self-guided walking tour audios available. You can each plug these in and stroll through the city hand-in-hand, learning more about the streets you’re so familiar with. Look up walking tour podcasts for your city and explore the possibilities.


"Time spent with cats is never wasted." ~ Sigmund Freud