In an attempt to save money, my partner and I have been trying to cut back on our date night spending. Not our date nights, just the spending we'd do during said nights. We still want to spend time together, like any couple, but find it difficult with our weekly $50 budget each we've imposed on ourselves. So here's a few creative ones we came up with in times of desperation:
1. The best part of picnics is you can justify the spending as 'food money' instead of 'spending money', thus the price of the date is merely your DVD rentals or drive to the country. The rest of the food can be stored and made into lunches for the next few days and thus isn't really a date expense. I believe me, you should too. Roast chicken, cheesy garlic mashed potatoes and some cobb bread with a beetroot dip, the entire meal cost me about twenty dollars, which was then used for about four more meals. This is Australian, so this is cheap. This was our 'home picnic' date night, where we decided to stay home and have a picnic in bed, as opposed to going for a drive to the country, which we also do.
2. You'd be surprised these days how fun it actually is to read together. I'm not talking sitting next to each other under a shared blanket reading (although that's nice too, it leaves no room for conversation). I'm talking about buying a book or loaning one from the library and literally sitting down and taking turns reading it to each other. The tackier the better. I'm talking Goosebumps books and trashy romance novels. Why? Because you have FUN. Because watching the look on your partner's face as they try to describe Sanchez's rippling loins is hysterical. For the Goosebumps books, throw on some cheesy Halloween music and use a flashlight on your face. Guaranteed to make you laugh.
3. Not one to forget the obvious, check your local paper. You don't even need to have your local paper, what with the internet (which I'm assuming you have if this is not being fed directly into your brain) or simply the local coffee shop, which also makes for a great date-morning. A cup of coffee together, read the paper and find what's going on. Many many times I've spotted a tiny ad for a free movie premier at the local arthouse theatre. Only once has this venture disappointed us and even then, we got to laugh about it together. Combined with a mini-on-the-go-picnic (what I call lunchbags), I've just given you an entire DAY of dating here for the price of two coffees and leftovers.
4. Yardsaling is a fun date. Especially since women and men both like to think they're better than the other at picking up a bargain. Usually my husband will find some sort of expensive fishing rod for only ten dollars and I'll laugh at him because, look, I got a whole bag of seeds for a dollar! I can feed the family for months off that! What can your fishing rod do? Oh yeah... feed the family for months. Curses.
5. Speaking of the above - fishing. If you actually enjoy spending time with your partner where all you can do is watch the water and talk, this is wonderful. Usually you can find a friend who will lend you a cheap boat (or a friend who knows where a good creek is) and licences are yearly and twelve bucks, so you can get many dates out of this. If you're any decent at actually catching the fish (I'm not), you'll also get a whole heap of free food. Bring a small picnic (I'm really pushing that today) and sit by the water with your lover, feeding each other, baiting hooks (wash your hands between the two, my suggestion) and comparing who caught the biggest fish that day. Then go home, scale and steam yourself what might be a few night's dinner. If you've had a particularly good day, you can sell some of the fish off to people on the harbour quite easily. Nothing like a whole day date you MAKE money off of, eh?
6. Farmer's Markets are surprisingly fun and cheap morning dates. Sampling the ripest tomatoes and talking about farm life with the locals can make for a fun addition to your already boring grocery shopping. Why hang around in dully lit overpriced markets when you can turn Sunday into a fun date morning and incorporate your love-life into your love of food life? Don't bring a picnic here, you might find the baker has a whole loaf of organic grain bread for a dollar and you might want to split that with some fresh butter, another dollar. The best part is, all of this is just grocery shopping on the cheap! But together you can discuss what is best for that glorious bag of heirloom tomatoes you grabbed for two bucks.. salad or grilled? With the money leftover, you can buy some old woman's fresh flowers to adorn your table and then cook up an amazing roast lunch to have at home. I look forward every week to my Farmer's Market date. I really love smelling the fresh picked green onions.
7. Do I really need to say museums and galleries? I think that one is an obvious one, but I put it here anyway. Usually free entry, liven up your knowledge of the arts a bit... makes a good fun little time out. Check your paper for fun ones at the same time as the free premiers and you'll be good to go.
8. Challenge yourself. I know it's hard to come up with a cheap way of showing your partner you love them - but if you make it into a personal challenge, it's much more fun. In the beginning my partner and I liked to see who could spend more money on the other (I won, I should mention) and finally we decided... who can spend the LEAST money on each other, but still be creative? This is where gifts like an altoids can miniature toolbox came in. Or my current favourite, making sexy scratch off lotto tickets that say things like "You win a free day of cuddles!" or "You win a picnic" (again?) or "You win a story told to you by flashlight.".... make it fun.. make it creative! Just because it's cheap doesn't mean it's.. well..cheap. So challenge yourself. See what you can come up with. I bet it's fun!