[I’m currently at the beach doing my own type of date (with children – hah), but in my stead, please enjoy this fantastic post by Elliott Bailey. Founder of DateNightWingman.com and lover of keeping the excitement going in relationships. Without killing your wallet!]
Budgets buy freedom. Budgets do not buy fancy date nights (not in the short term anyway). This simple fact is one of the hardest parts about adjusting your personal spending to make it sustainable. After all, you still want to have a great time connecting with your partner in a meaningful way.
Learning to do date nights on a budget certainly takes effort (like most things) but there are heaps of creative date ideas that are a lot of fun! Here are 5 of the best:
#1. The Chalk Run ($3.00)
This is the cheapest non-free date idea you will ever do! You are going to be leaving her a trail of chalk arrows to follow on the pavement that lead to a small present. Kind of like a scavenger hunt. It is really simple to set up:
- Grab a small present (like a block of chocolate) and wrap it nicely
- Head to a nearby park and hide it somewhere out of sight
- Walk from the hiding spot back to the car/house along an interesting path leaving chalk arrows along the way. Mix it up a little with romantic notes like ‘Love you babe’ or a smiley face
- Tell your partner that you will be going out for a date night but do not give them any details
- Arrive at the start of your chalk trail and just pretend like you are going for a walk. The trick is to just keep going and see if she notices the trail! When she finally does (which could take a hint or two) she will be a little surprised and intrigued which is what makes this date totally memorable!
- Finally when you arrive at your hidden present make an un-subtle hint that she should start looking around for something and share the reward
If your budget stretches to the lofty heights of $20 you could finish off the date day with a street vendor style meal in the park!
#2. Geocaching ($10.00/Free)
Coming in at $10 up front, it is free every time after that – and it is so much fun you will want to do it more than once. (Editor’s Note: Samantha in the comments below mentioned you can actually do it all for free just fine if you don’t want to pay for the premium membership)
In a nutshell, Geocaching is like a treasure hunt you do on your phone. Best of all, someone else has already done the work for you! Here is how it works:
- Someone has hidden a box of treasure (little toys usually) somewhere cool and loaded the location onto the Geocaching website
- You grab the app on your phone and look up nearby caches. They are everywhere – city, country, suburbs
- On the date day, drive to the general area and grab your phone (aka compass!)
- Follow the directions on the app until you find where the Cache is hidden. This is the best part – searching!
- Lastly, swap out one of the mementos in the box with one you brought along so you have a keepsake of the date.
This is a great date since the hunting and searching gives you enough small talk to get the conversation flowing. It is also a heap of fun when you finally find the treasure together!
#3. Ready, Steady, Cook! ($20.00)
Everybody eats. But eating out every date night can cost a lot of $$ and end up being two people just staring at each other trying to make conversation. This date fixes both of these by making the food prep the date itself! Even if you do not like cooking you can still throw vegetables at each other…
Basically one of you will be making the main meal and the other dessert. The fun part is that you each choose the ingredients that other has to use!
Here’s how to make it fun:
- Let her know that it is going to be a ‘date night in’ but you will both be heading to the supermarket first
- When you get there flip a coin for who will be making mains and who will do dessert
- You then split up and have a $10 budget each to find some ingredients. Be nice and get things that do not require too much creativity (unless of course rhubarb is your thing…) You can make this even more fun by sneaking around the store trying to keep what you are buying for each other a secret!
- When you get home do the ‘big reveal’ and tell talk about why you choose what you did. This is not mandatory but just helps to get the conversation going which is really what this date is all about
- From here it is pretty straight forward – cooking, throwing food at each other, playing music really loud and dancing, throwing more food at each other… you get the picture
You can make up and ‘house rules’ you like as well as using anything in the cupboard/fridge to make it easier too.
#4. DIY Awesomeness ($10.00-$40.00)
My wife used to always want to do ‘house stuff’ – you know, renovate the backyard, paint the kitchen table, or put photos in frames and arrange them on the wall. My response was usually ‘Sure babe’ +
That was until I realised that doing house DIY stuff is just another way to hang out. Almost overnight my whole experience changed and I’d be asking her to do stuff. Give it a go on 1 or 2 projects and see what you think. It really can be a fun date night.
Top DIY home dates:
- Coffee table made of books – a pile of hardcover books, a chopping board, and some glue, and you can have a totally hipster coffee table! This can be customised to fit most home decors – we put music sheets on top of ours, but you could just as easily paint it or stick photos on top, etc.
- Map board – this is a cork notice board with a world map glued on top that’s marked at every place you’ve been! It also makes a great conversation starter when you have friends around.
- Paper fridge – all you need is an old book, some spray glue and a (older) fridge! You have to get past that strange feeling that you shouldn’t be plastering paper all over a fridge, but once you do it’s a really fun date. We had planned to cover ours in varnish to make it last longer but never got there and it seems to be holding up pretty well!
- Wooden stump chair/table – this one’s really easy once you have the stump. Just plane it back and seal it for a really useful outdoor piece of furniture! To get the stump, check the local firewood suppliers or grab one off a friend who has a property in the country.
- Pinterest! Simply search for ‘DIY home date’ and a bunch of other fun stuff will come up.
#5. Invent a New You! (cost of drinks)
Once you’ve been together for a while you will have been out for drinks endlessly. This can get a little boring since you run out of things to talk about. You can make it fresh by coming as a different person for the night!
It’s pretty straight forward really – you both plan a night by yourselves to meet a ‘friend’ for a drink. When you get there, go and ‘pick up’ your partner who will now have a different name, job, back story, life goals, sexual interests, hobbies etc… If you’re cool enough to bust out a different accent it totally adds to the awesomeness.
This makes for a really fun date because keeping the performance brings back all those novelty feelings you had when you first met! Furthermore, trying to keep a straight face when you’re talking about your long standing passion for competitive hot dog eating is a real art! You can make it even better Googling your new hobby and finding some cool stories to share on the night.
Try ’em out and let us know what you think! What type of fun dates have you gone on?
About the author: My wife and I use to go on epic dates. Live theatre, $130 dinners, big presents – you name it! Then we both started businesses and had to shrink our budget. Gone were the nice dinners. Gone were the $300 weekends. Gone was my feeling of male pride that I wasn’t able to pay for everything! We needed to find date night ideas that were affordable but still fun – we have put the best of these online at DateNightWingman.com.
PS: Here are 8 more fun (and frugal) date ideas we’ve blogged about before.
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!