7 Minute Read
When you’re trying to stick to a budget but also want to treat your special someone to a date night, you might feel stuck. After all, date nights can be expensive. Even if you don’t have anything more than dinner and a movie planned, you could end up paying close to $100! But don’t worry—there are plenty of ways to spend one-on-one time together in a budget-friendly way. Here are 40 date ideas to get you started.
10 Free Date Night Ideas
Let’s get one thing straight: Free doesn’t equal boring. If anything, it means you get to be a little more creative with how you plan the date. Plus, you get to think up exciting, out of the box ideas. Here are 10 free activities to do on a date any night of the week.
- Browse at a bookstore. If you find books you both like, put them on hold for pickup at your local library.
- Listen to your throwback records, vintage tapes or mix CDs. Pick the ones that were important to you while you two were dating.
- Eat samples at Costco. But don’t shop!
- Watch the sunset or sunrise.
- Pay homage to the year you met, got married or started dating. Watch a popular movie or listen to music from that year and try to recreate the style of the time. If the year was 1983, we’re sorry for the fashion options. But take heart, you’ll have some of the most iconic movies and music to choose from!
- Eat dinner in the backyard.
- Go to Target. Or window shop at any store.
- Serve at a homeless shelter or elderly ministry.
- Test drive an expensive car. But don’t buy it!
- Donate blood together. You’ll both get free snacks and drinks; plus, you’re helping save lives!
10 Outdoor Date Ideas
Whether it’s hot outside or there’s a crisp chill in the air, you can still take advantage of some cheap date ideas. Get out there and enjoy the great outdoors! It’s healthy, it’s refreshing, and best of all, it’s cheap.
Local experts you can trust.
- Enjoy a hike.
- Take a run together.
- Camp at a state park.
- Drive to see the autumn leaves.
- Go berry or apple picking.
- Visit a public garden.
- Grab a cup of coffee and stroll around a town square or downtown area.
- Train for a 5K.
- Walk a nature trail.
- Get a cheap loaf of bread and feed ducks at a pond.
10 Stay-at-Home Date Night Ideas
There are plenty of fun dates you can have without ever stepping out your front door. And sometimes after a long week, who even wants to leave the house anyway?
- Cook a special or fancy dinner together. Save $60–70.
- Eat takeout by candlelight.
- Have a picnic on the floor.
- Make drinks and sip them on your patio. Save $20.
- Stargaze from the backyard.
- Play board games. Loser does the dishes!
- Get dessert to go from your favorite restaurant. Save $30–40 by taking dessert with you instead of eating dinner there.
- Use Redbox coupons for a movie night at home. Save $30–40 by not going to the movies and hitting up the concession counter.
- Take a trip down memory lane. Get out old photos or family home movies, and spend some time reminiscing.
- Make milkshakes, floats or fancy ice cream sundaes at home. Save $10–15.
10 Double Date Ideas
Double dates get a bad rap. It’s totally possible (and fun) for two couples to hang out on a double date without it being the least bit corny. Here are 10 double date ideas for your budget:
- Sing karaoke.
- Play miniature golf. Look for coupons on apps like Groupon and Living Social.
- Do a taste test. Pick up the same kind of food from three places to compare them. (Consider cookies, cakes or brownies!)
- Go bowling. Try to find “beat the clock” nights. The earlier you bowl, the less you’ll pay.
- Rent canoes.
- Dress up and go out to eat on a dollar menu.
- Go to a drive-in movie theater. They are usually quite a bit cheaper than the regular movie theater. You might even be able to pay one price for the whole carload!
- Eat ice cream in the park. Pick up a tub of ice cream, plastic spoons and bowls at the grocery store, and head to the park.
- Borrow or rent bikes to do some sightseeing.
- Turn your double date into a challenge! We’re borrowing this idea from the always creative, Rachel Cruze. The producers of The Rachel Cruze Show challenged each other (and their spouses) to see if they could enjoy a date night for less than $50—including childcare!
Check out this clip from The Rachel Cruze Show to see how creative they got!
How to Save on Babysitting
Look at you! You’re ready to go with your cheap date night ideas when suddenly a voice from the other room cries out, “I’m thirsty!”
Ah-ha! You just remembered you’re a parent—which means you have children. You’ll need someone to watch said children when you and your spouse head out for your awesome (but totally budget-friendly) date night.
So what’s a responsible, budget-conscious parent to do? We’ve got you covered.
Do the baby monitor method.
Yes, it’s a thing. A beautiful thing. Put the kids to sleep, grab the baby monitor (if you still use one), and enjoy your date at home! If your kids are older, you won’t need the monitor. Just make sure you don’t leave the house while they’re asleep. That’s a free parenting tip for you right there.
This is a nice way to enjoy date nights, even when you can’t get out of the house. The baby monitor method is especially great if you don’t have family who lives close by, can’t find a sitter, or just don’t want to pay for one. (Hey, we’ve all been there.)
Swap babysitting with friends.
You want to go on a date, but guess what? So do your other parent friends. Kids are fantastic, but everybody wants—and deserves—a break. Tell your friends that you’ll watch their kids while they go out if they will do the same for you in return! You can swap babysitting services, still enjoy your dates, and get a babysitter for free! Everyone’s budget loves that!
If you live near your family, the babysitting rays of sunshine have beamed upon you. Don’t abuse it, but definitely use it! Call Papa and Nana and ask them if they could watch the kids this weekend while the two of you try out some cheap date night ideas.
If you don’t live close to family, consider asking for help when they come to town for a visit. Sure, you want to spend time with them. But you know who they really came to see—their grandbabies. So let them play with the kids while you two step out for some bonding time. All you need is a few hours to test out your new and creative date ideas.
Can’t Buy Me Love
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a memorable date night. It’s like The Beatles sang, “I don’t care too much for money, and money can’t buy me love.” So take a cue from them and learn how to fall in love with the beauty of a cheap date night.
A cheap date night only works when you stick to your budget! Once you know exactly how much you can spend, you’ll be able to enjoy your date night guilt-free! Use our free budgeting tool EveryDollar to create your budget in less than 10 minutes today.