Last Friday evening my husband and I had a fabulous date spending time together, just the two of us. We didn’t go out to a fancy dinner. We weren’t snuggled close at a local theater catching one of the latest movies to release. We didn’t purchase tickets to a play or musical event nor were we up in the bleachers cheering on our favorite college or professional sports team. In fact, we spent hardly any money at all on our date together. The grand total cost of our night out on the town?
A whopping $3.86.
So what in the world did we do that made our romantic date night so inexpensive?
We focused on spending time together rather than spending money.
My husband had errands that he needed to run: light bulbs to purchase at the home improvement store and some replacement cabinet doors to order for our kitchen cupboards. I needed to return something to a department store that didn’t fit. And those kitchen cupboards? They were getting a little bit to the Old Mother Hubbard stage and we needed to get a few groceries.
And so, we hopped in the car and drove into the city about a half hour from our little country home and ran our errands together. Once we were through, we made our way to a quaint indoor farmers market where both of us love to spend time. Not only is there a colorful wall-to-wall spread of fruits and vegetables, but there are also many wonderful ethnic foods, an expansive cheese selection, and a bakery with melt in your mouth cookies and pastries.
But best of all? There is a help yourself coffee and tea bar that is free to all customers. There are several flavors of coffee and tea, as well as syrups and creamers, raw sugar and honey, whipped cream and toppings. You can make your own hot coffee or tea just the way you like it and then sip as you shop.
There is also fresh made popcorn being popped all day long in a vast assortment of flavors, both salty and sweet. You can taste-test many as you’d like. We tried sweet-and-salty, garlic herb, ranch, caramel, and even dill pickle!
Once we had our coffee in hand and our taste buds delighted with the popcorn, we strolled over to the handmade chocolates counter. Todd picked out two pieces–a salted milk chocolate caramel and a peanut butter bomb. I chose a simple pice of dark chocolate sprinkled with shredded coconut. We paid for our sweets and the grand total came to $3.86.
But what made our date great wasn’t scoring free snacks. It was spending time together; existing side-by-side just doing nothing but going through the routine of life. And, to maximize our time, we took along some fun “Get-to-know-you-all-over-again” questions to discuss in the car ride there and back.
Date nights do not have to be elaborate. Or super romantic. And they for sure don’t need to cost a boatload of money.
Date Night on a Shoestring Budget Ideas
Here are some ideas for hanging out together on the cheap. Some are free. All cost less than $20 bucks total. Have fun!
- Take a hike. Find a local park that has walking trails. Take along a snack and stop to enjoy it while you go over the date night questions.
- Go retro. Head to an antique store or two and see how many of the items you recognize from your days growing up. You might find the cookbook your mom used or the exact telephone your spouse’s grandma had in her home. It is fun discovering items from your past and discussing them with each other. Then, go to a local ice cream shop and order a scoop of your favorite childhood flavor.
- Movie night anyone? I don’t mean at the movie house but at YOUR house. Watch old home movies of your family from years past and pop popcorn. Best. Movie. Night. Ever.
- Get board. Stay home and have a game night. For the first hour or so play your favorite board or card game. Then switch and play your spouse’s for another hour. Make a platter of veggies and dip or a big pan of homemade nachos to nibble on as you play.
- Book it! Go to a large chain bookstore that also has a coffeehouse inside. Each of you order your favorite coffee beverage and grab a book or two that looks interesting. Spend time sitting together on one of the comfortable couches just reading and enjoying each other’s company.
- Be a tourist in your own home town. Check with the local visitor center to see what area attractions you might never have heard of. Are there museums, parks, or exhibits that have free admission? Spend an afternoon or evening at one of them. Then, go out to dinner and spilt an entree. (Most restaurants serve portions plenty large enough to share!)
- Dance to the music. (Ok…or just sit, hold hands, and listen) Many cities and small towns have free concerts, both outdoor and indoor. Snuggle up together and enjoy the music. If it is an outdoor excursion, take along sandwiches, fruit, and a thermos of iced tea or lemonade.
Happy date night!
Karen Ehman, KarenEhman.com
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