Keep Dating Alive: Tips for Affordable Date Nights

couple enjoying date night at home with wine and a movie

Keeping the spark alive is essential in any romantic relationship, whether you are just starting out as a couple or have been together long term. It’s common for couples to go out on frequent dates during the initial “honeymoon period,” but eventually lessen the number as the relationship progresses. Many times, couples blame it on expense. However, there are many affordable date night ideas that are just as fun and fulfilling to experience with your partner that won’t break the bank.

Putting the ‘Fun’ Back in ‘Funds’

Date night ideas for couples can go beyond “dinner and a movie”—a norm that could easily set you back $50 to $100 (or more) in just one night. In fact, some ideas don’t even involve money at all! But spending little to no cash does not mean you’re being stingy; it can simply mean you have other financial priorities. This is especially true for couples who have been together a long time and have their eyes on other goals such as saving for a house, wedding, children, lifestyle improvements or even paying off student loans.

With fun, affordable date night ideas you have less financial stress while focusing on improving your relationship.

Tip #1: Make Staying In Fun

Never underestimate the power of staying in with your partner. It is one of the most underrated date night ideas for couples! Dating or “going out” does not have to be literal. Relaxing at home with your significant other can just be as romantic—and a fraction of the cost!

If a casual movie or TV night is your thing, order food in, turn on your favorite streaming service, and have a relaxing night at home. You can take it up a notch with a special homecooked dinner and a nice bottle of wine. This can add a personal touch to make date night just as special as going out to an expensive restaurant. If both of you cook, even better. Surprise each other with unique dishes, or work together to create a memorable meal.

Another idea is to work on a puzzle or play a board game (or video game, if that’s more up your alley). You can even make this a regular thing—something to look forward to at the end of a hectic work week. Plus, doing puzzles or trying to have a friendly competition is a good way to collaborate as a couple. On occasion, invite a few friends or fellow couples to participate in a potluck game night. This gives also allows you to split the cost with everyone who joins.

Tip #2: Be Creative When Going Out

There are ways to go out without having to wreck your wallet. Affordable date nights can involve something as simple as driving around your city, rediscovering places that hold special memories. If you’re the more athletic type, take a nice scenic walk, ride bikes, or even go for a hike if there’s a trail or mountain near you.

Another tried-and-tested date is to go for a picnic in the park. It’s romantic, and it’s a good opportunity to learn more about wine. Pair them nicely with the cheeses you may already have in your fridge. Other inexpensive date ideas include going on a day trip to one of your city’s attractions, or even have a nice photoshoot if you’re on the more visually creative side of things.

Museums, art galleries, botanical gardens, and zoos usually have affordable options—some even have certain days available for free. This allows you to enjoy fun, affordable date options while learning something new about nature, history, art, or whatever else your city or town has to offer. If all else fails, try to figure out areas with amazing views. Sunsets also work wonders. You can enjoy quiet time while witnessing the end of a day together.

couple doing date night at a local museum

Tip #3: Mix It Up and Be Crafty

Date night doesn’t have to be run of the mill. Plenty of date ideas involve minimal cost. However, they still allow you and your partner to have a good time. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Meet up for a few drinks after dinner. Going out for drinks after dinner allows you to save some money on the bill. Try a place you’ve never been before. Some bars also hold trivia nights—a cool twist you might want to try.
  2. Visit a new coffee shop. Sure, your go-to coffee chain is just around the corner, but a trendy, local coffee shop someplace new might offer you a different experience. New food, new drinks, new environment, you name it! You could even split a pastry or slice of cake while sipping on that intriguing latte or tea you’ve never heard of before.
  3. Try an appetizer date. If the bar scene or coffee house isn’t your thing, try a restaurant or pub that has happy hour deals. Sharing small plates and bar snacks is a great way to keep the costs to a minimum while still enjoying time with your partner.
  4. Check out food trucks or dive bars. Hop from one truck or stall to the next and try as many (or as few) dishes and drinks as you please, within budget of course. Dive bars can be just as interesting, and usually have cheaper food and drinks, than fancy restaurants. Many also have fun activities like pool tables or dart boards where you can bring your A-game and a little healthy competition.

Affordable date nights may seem challenging at first, but once you get the hang of it you can keep creating new ways to have fun as a couple without seriously putting a dent in your bank account. Additionally, try to set aside a dating budget the same way you would budget other essentials. With these tips, dating can be exciting and inexpensive.

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Ellen Madden studied Communications and Women & Gender Studies at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. She is navigating motherhood while working and celebrating life in Tampa, FL where she grew up. Ellen is a food lover and is learning the art of writing as she goes along.

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