dating on a budget

datenight-01 Matt and I are for sure on a budget, but we're also in a season of life where we so desperately want to soak in some serious quality time, since come September it will no longer just be us two (and Scout!) While we do have a small date budget each month, we're finding creative ways to build in date nights weekly that are free or super cheap. I absolutely believe that you can cultivate true intimacy in your marriage and have super fun and quality date nights without dropping $60+ on a restaurant dinner. Here are 15 of my favorite ideas!

  1. Have a game night // There are plenty of games that are plenty fun with just two people. Some of our favorites include gin rummy, Boggle, Scrabble (or speed Scrabble or Bananagrams) or Skip Bo.
  2. Watch a movie // Have Amazon Prime? There are tons of movies on there that come free with your membership, including some great oldies. Don't have Amazon Prime? You can rent movies on Amazon for $4 or $5 if you don't want to leave the house to get a Redbox. Pop some popcorn, snuggle up under a cozy blanket and turn all the lights off. Who needs the theater?!
  3. Make pizza together // A Friday night tradition that we accidentally created is the Friday Night Pizza Dinner. We get a pizza kit (gluten free, although you can also make your own dough recipe totally from scratch. I'm sure there are a thousand recipes on Pinterest) and have fun getting all floury and seeing who can have the most perfect arrangement of pepperoni. We each make one for ourselves. Mini pizzas would also be fun--the combinations are endless!
  4. Have a cook-off // Pick one dish or one category, and compete with each other to see who can whip up the best dish. Whether it's salad, baked chicken or something on the grill. You'll get creative, probably have a food fight and at the end, have TWO delicious entrees to eat. And, all the ingredients can come from your normal grocery budget, because you have to eat dinner anyway, right?!
  5. Play video games // Yeah, I'm serious. You can usually rent video games from your library for free, and who doesn't love some old fashioned Mario Kart, Super Smash Brothers or an in-house FIFA tournament? Plus, if you guy is anything like mine, he'll be SHOCKED and AMAZED that you are suggesting video games willingly as a date night.
  6. Take a walk // Grab the dog's leash or just head out, the two of you, for a walk around the neighborhood or town. It might seem obvious, but it's amazing the kind of rich conversation you can have while aimlessly wandering around. I love to walk new routes with Matt, and point out houses we've never noticed before.
  7. Take a drive // I'm super interested in architecture and get so inspired by houses and neighborhoods, so a great cheap date night idea is picking up some milkshakes and driving to a cool part of the city to drive around and look at all the cool old houses. Snap photos of your favorites--you might even find yourself working some ideas into a future house design or search someday!
  8. Check out what your city or town has on tap // Most cities and towns have a full calendar of events and happenings, usually free, for people to take advantage of. From free nights at the museum to First Friday art gallery walks to interesting talks on the art of love letter writing, there's probably tons to do for free right in your own hometown. Your Chamber of Commerce or visitor's bureau should have a calendar on their website.
  9. Go hiking // Any nature trails or state parks nearby? For a few bucks entrance fee, you can hike the day away. We are so lucky to have a couple state parks within close driving distance (and a bunch more within a few hours!) so it's super doable to spend an evening hiking and even pack a picnic dinner!
  10. Watch your wedding video or look through your wedding memories // Seriously, this one pulls out all the feels. How often do you look at your wedding album? Once a year, if that? You paid mucho dinero for those memories to be captured, and as a former wedding photographer myself, I can say that they are truly meant to be enjoyed, and often! So watch your wedding video on a random Tuesday. Look through your wedding photos other than once a year on your anniversary. Ask each other what their favorite part of the wedding was. Ask each other how they felt as you saw each other for the first time. Ask each other what their favorite part of being married is. These are some of my most favorite date nights, when we're just sitting across the table from each other but having these conversations. It never gets old!
  11. Go bowling // Go on late date to the bowling alley. A lot of bowling places offer discounted rates after their peak time (around here, it's after 9:30pm) where you can bowl for as little as $1 per game + a couple bucks for shoe rental. For 10 bucks, you could bowl a few games and have a super fun date night out.
  12. Look at the stars // I know, I know, this sounds so cheesy. Until you actually do it! Pack a blanket and some beverages and head out to a deserted country road to look at the stars one night. It's easy, free and nothing makes me feel more connected to God and the universe (and my husband!) than holding hands under that huge starry sky.
  13. Check out a baseball game // We have a Triple A team here in Indy (the Indians!) For $10 per ticket, we can sit in the lawn, bring our own food and drinks, and watch the free fireworks show afterwards.
  14. Watch cartoons // Yes, I'm serious. Matt has never seen Rugrats because he didn't have cable growing up, so you can bet that one of our upcoming date nights will be spent renting a Rugrats DVD from the library and introducing him to the awesome that is Tommy Pickles. We've also watched his childhood favorite, Tom & Jerry. Pick out a dvd of our fave cartoons from when you were a kid and spend a night on the couch pretending you're 5 again. It's the best. Because you can also have ice cream for dinner and no one can tell you no.
  15. Volunteer together // Whether it's helping with a river clean-up, serving food at a homeless shelter or walking dogs at the humane society, volunteering together can be such an awesome experience and it's totally free!

What are some other ideas that you've heard of, done or loved? I'd love to hear! We're always looking for new ideas :)

*this post contains Amazon affiliate links, which may provide a teeny commission to me at no cost to you. thanks for making vallarina creative possible! // photo by lisa walker, pre pregnancy, because #beer.