Whether you just started your adventure together, or you are seasoned veterans when it comes to marriage, we all know how important it is to maintain consistent and intentional date nights. It may actually be more important once you start having children together.
One issue that may come up is financing regularly scheduled date nights. I believe the misconception here is that you have to break the bank in order to have a meaningful experience. Dating your spouse doesn’t necessarily mean a trip to Disney World (I mean, that would be pretty awesome, but unrealistic for the vast majority).
On the contrary, dating your spouse simply requires a deep, intentional connection, or reconnection in some cases, with each other — again, with regularity.
We’ve put together a list of affordable, out-of-the-box date ideas that work for any budget.
Affordable Out of the Box Date Ideas:
Department Store Date Challenge
You’ve most likely witnessed this trend over the past few years. Here’s how it works:
- You pick your favorite department store (my wife’s and mine just happens to be Target), and set a budget for each person ($15-$20 each is usually enough).
- Head to the bargain movie bin (movies are usually about five bucks), and dig in. No peeking, just grab one random movie each and see what you both picked. If it happens to be the live action Avatar: The Last Airbender, you have our permission to pick a new movie.
- Then you split up and pick out your spouse’s favorite drink, candy and/or snack.
- You head to the register when you’re done, and wait to reveal your treasures for until you get home.
- Once you get home, it’s time for pjs, movies, snacks and snuggles. Bonus points for voting on which movie was the best out of the two.
Get Thrifty and Head to Dinner
- Head to your local thrift shop, and pick out some outfits for each other.
- Head home and toss them in the washer and dryer.
- Once they’re ready, it’s time to get dolled up for your big night. Bonus points here are if you can find anything close to Harry and Lloyd’s ensemble.
- Head to a restaurant of your choice. You can also significantly cut the cost of this date night by cooking with each other at home. Plus, it’s more fun. Unless you’re a terrible cook. Oh, and get dessert. You have our permission.
Date Ideas that Virtually Cost Nothing:
Flip a Coin and Take a Drive
This one’s fun.
- Pick two locations within a reasonable driving distance. Determine which side of the coin is which location.
- Flip a coin, and have your spouse “call” it.
- Get in the car and drive. Hold hands on the drive if that’s your M.O…
- Walk around your newly discovered favorite spot when you get there. Hold hands here, too.
- Maybe pick up some cool-looking rocks as a memento from your romantic getaway.
Window Shopping in Your Local Downtown
If you don’t have a downtown with mom & pop shops, then your local mall will suffice. The concept is pretty simple:
- Head downtown, walk around, and head into the shops.
- Window shop. Try on new outfits. Talk to the store owners and hear their story of how they got started. Get creative!
- Grab some cheap tacos for lunch, or pack some PB&Js ahead of time, and find a great picnic area.
- Our recommendation is to check-in at the shops on social media, especially if they’re locally owned. That costs nothing, and it helps spread the word about that cool store you found.
The beauty of this is that there is no pressure to buy anything. You can look at all of the cool, super expensive stuff you normally don’t look at. This helps you to slow down and discover new things about your downtown or your local mall.
Love Letters and Sticky Notes
Again, this costs just about zero dollars to do. Write love letters to your spouse and hide them around the house. I’ve even dropped 49 cents on a stamp and bought envelopes from the dollar store to physically mail a letter to my wife… to our own house. Who doesn’t like getting fun mail? I even like to doodle all over the note with a bunch of hearts, kissy faces and other mushy stuff like that.
Get a pack of sticky notes and write up a few short love messages to your spouse every morning before you head to work. Stick them on things your spouse uses or sees daily so they can find them easily. Send them on a wild and crazy treasure hunt, Nicolas Cage style.
Here’s Your Homework:
Okay, so we know that we loaded you with a lot of affordable out of the box date ideas. You may be wondering, where do we start?
In short? You start simple.
Our homework for you and your spouse is to start by writing down some “cue questions” for each other.
- When did you know I was “the one?”
- What was it like for you when you fell in love with me?
- What is your favorite memory of us?
- What is your favorite memory as a child?
- What is your favorite movie that you could watch over and over again, and it would never get old?
- What are your dreams and goals for the next 5 years?
…to name a few. This list could go on forever.
If you don’t know the answer to the questions, great! That will help you to learn new things about your spouse. If you already know the answer to the questions, that’s great, too! My wife and I have found that with these questions, after over a decade of being married, we hear new things in stories that we’ve heard and told each other several times. Little details we never heard before start popping up, and it’s exciting.
Play some cards or a few board games with each other and ask each other these questions while you’re hanging out. You’ll be surprised to see hours of meaningful conversation pass by in what feels like minutes.
Steer clear of Monopoly, though. That game makes people see “the real you,” and your spouse isn’t ready for that yet.