Seven Date Night Ideas That Won’t Blow the Budget

It’s easy to get mired down in the responsibilities that come with being engaged or newly married. Chances are, you both either have jobs or duties outside of the home. Then there’s grocery shopping, preparing meals, cleaning the house and a host of other should-dos and must-dos. But for a healthy relationship, you should set aside time regularly to pay attention to your partner. That means date night.

You may be in the early stages of building a career and may not have a lot of disposable income. You may have looming financial goals, such as saving to buy a house, that limit what you can spend. Don’t equate expensive with romantic and special. There are affordable date night ideas for all budgets.

“Even if couples are saving aggressively, they can decide on a comfortable amount they can spend that will not take money away from their goals. Ten percent of take-home pay is a good amount to allocate for fun money,” says financial educator and personal finance coach Rachael Hanible, CEO of Missing Peace Financial Group.

So where can you go on an affordable date night? How can you stretch a limited budget? Here are seven date night ideas so you can whoop it up and make memories without breaking the bank.

Make Social Media Work for You

Check out the events tab or use the search function on your social media apps to discover what’s going on in the local community. Plenty of grand openings, festivals and open mic nights at hot spots are free or have a low cover charge. Venues such as museums and zoos often offer free admission once per month. You may have to adjust your date night to a daytime affair, but just look at how much money you’ll be saving.

Plan a Date Night at Home

Cook a new recipe together that you’ve saved on Instagram, and follow dinner with a board game. Financial advisor Jamilah McCluney, founder of Black Wealth Financial, is the creator of a game for couples to help them navigate difficult money conversations in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. Hundreds of couples have played the “For the Love and Money” game and learned a lot about their partner’s money views along the way.

“One of the things that alarmed me is how many couples don’t work together regarding their money,” McCluney says. “I’ve seen secrets among couples when it comes to their debt and income. Since finances are one of the top three reasons for divorce, I created the game for these sometimes uncomfortable conversations. Some were shocked at what their partners didn’t know about money.”

If board games aren’t your thing, consider buying mugs and craft supplies from a dollar store to customize gifts for each other, advises McCluney. You’ll think of your partner every morning when you pour that first cup of coffee!

Try a Classy Restaurant for Happy Hour

If cooking isn’t your style, you can always hit that ritzy restaurant everyone has been talking about, even if you’re short on cash. Go for a drink and split some appetizers. Most restaurants have drink and food specials during happy hour. You’ll walk away with an intimate experience with your spouse at an upscale establishment you may not have otherwise visited.

Think Like a Tourist

Maybe you have lived in your city for a long time but have you ever really explored it? Plan a day trip like you are on vacation—explore the side streets on a bike and schedule tours of places you’ve never visited, such as a historic site or garden. This idea works especially well on a Saturday or Sunday when you have a full day for an excursion.

Fire Up a Friendly Competition

Give your partner and yourself five days and a $25 budget, and see who can come up with the best date night plans. It’s a game that everyone wins; even the “loser” gets a fun, affordable night out.

Volunteer Together

Spending time together doesn’t have to be about spending money. There’s nothing like working toward a common cause to build closeness. Find a local organization working to solve an issue you are both passionate about and sign up for a time slot to help. Consider organized opportunities like walking dogs at the local pet shelter or reading to residents of a nursing home. Or create a gig of your own: find elderly or widowed neighbors who need their yards mowed or pick up litter on your street to make the neighborhood a little more pleasant.

Try Something New

There’s that workout class you’ve always wanted to try. Wouldn’t it be more fun to do it with a partner? Whether it’s goat yoga or dance cardio, find a matchup you both enjoy. Or perhaps you can get in your steps by planning a walk along an uncharted path that’s out of your usual routine. There’s a chance to discover new things along the way that will give you a shared experience.

“The goal for date night ideas is connection and intimacy, to build memories and truly experience each other and the moment,” says McCluney. “Those things are priceless.”