Super Frugal Date Night Ideas

by Reader Contributors

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You don’t have to spend a lot of money to spend quality time with your significant other. Consider one of these free to cheap date night ideas for your next date.

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
When my husband and I got married, we promised that we’d have a weekly date night, but then money got real tight. We probably could afford $25 or maybe even $30 a week. Do any of your readers have any super frugal date night ideas to share?

Game Night for Two

When my husband and I were first married (many, many years ago), we had game night for the two of us. I bought complete board games at Goodwill, or we asked for them for gifting occasions. We would so look forward to a night of Yahtzee.

I know it sounds silly, but it was fun. We even wrote high scores and dates on the inside of the box lid. We love looking at that now and remembering those “frugal days” and how it helped us grow together.
Dona (via Facebook)

Books, Coffee and Your Best Friend

Our favorite cheap date night is going to a bookstore. We love to sit and take our time looking through interesting magazines. We point out things that catch our attention to each other. Then we splurge on a coffee treat!

There’s something about the combination of books, coffee and your best friend. Plus, this time to indulge leaves us relaxed at the end of the evening!

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Remember Why You’re Together

Cook together! Use that bit of extra money to splurge on some food you both like and try out a new recipe together.

Check out free activities in your area, such as free concerts, exhibits, walks, etc. Most communities have them.

Whatever you do, be sure to do it face to face. It’s far cheaper than therapy and a great way to remember why you two got together in the first place!
JD in St Louis

Picnic in the Park

How about a picnic in the nearest park with food you have cooked at home for a cheap date night? A nice bottle of your favorite wine could be your big splurge.

Follow your leisurely dinner with good conversation and maybe a nice romantic walk afterwards. If you have enough time, you could then watch a movie at home together.

A Gift for That Special Someone

Being on a tight budget can be hard because you don’t get the fun of spending money, but if you take turns spending on each other, even $10 can be a lot of fun.

I really enjoy getting to bring home my husband’s favorite beer, and he loves buying a bottle of wine for me.
Jenny (via Facebook)

Dine at Home!

Doesn’t sound romantic? My husband and I are in our 42nd year of marriage, and when times are tight or not, we have a lovely dinner at home.

I set up the card table in a quiet place (in front of the fire on a wintry evening or on the deck in the summer). I use a nice tablecloth, cloth napkins, candles, and the best stemware and flatware. I either make a simple dinner or pick up take-out from the deli. We also have dessert, which is an unusual treat. Some of our favorite music in the background completes the ambiance.

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Pursue a New Hobby Together

It’s so much fun to use your creativity and save money too, especially when your creativity includes spending time with your honey.

Think of what activities you may have done when you were dating. Did you enjoy picnics or walks in the park? You could find a new coffee shop and spend time having a beverage and people watching. Many communities have local papers or websites advertising their annual festivals. Walk around and perhaps do some early Christmas shopping. It’s amazing what you can find at the artisans’ booths for a reasonable amount of money. Church festivals are another fun activity where a little bit of money can go a long way.

Another idea is pursuing a new hobby together. You could invest a small amount of money in a late vegetable garden. The garden centers are discounting plants, which would generate food on your table. It’s satisfying to see the results that come from a little amount of work. Once you start thinking of ideas together, you may find that there are more things to do than you can imagine.

Cheap Thrills Are Plentiful

Lots of people need cheap thrills, not just people who need a date night. When I was living in a large city, my friends and I were in grad school and constantly broke. Some of the cheap things we did were the usual like local museums, concerts in the park, and art gallery openings.

If you already know about those, or don’t live in or near a large urban area, there are still a number of things you can do. You may have to have date “days” among your outings. Check with your local parks and recreation department for a list of events. Nature walks, naturalist-led hikes, and lectures can be fun. You can also check with the local visitor’s bureau for a list of festivals, craft fairs, and even flea markets. No, you don’t have to buy anything. Sometimes just looking at how creative other people are can inspire your own recycling projects. Or you might pick out a bargain, such as a nice vintage art book or poster for a buck or two.

If you have a college campus nearby, you are in luck. Check the website for shows, concerts given by music students, student art shows, films, and lectures. Then there are sporting events. The big sports, such as men’s basketball and football, may have a higher admission price. Check out less popular spectator sports, or go watch the girls play. The women’s teams rarely have big crowds, and tickets are free or cheap. Join a college booster association or your alumni association, and you might get into a lot of events free.

No college in town? Check out high school sports, especially if you live in a small community where the local high school athletes are stars. Cheer along with the parents, students, and friends. You will feel like a kid again.

Then there is the local public library. Check out appearances by authors, poetry readings, and book clubs nights. You can also borrow movies for free, make some popcorn, and have a date night at home.

Want to eat “out”? Then have a picnic in a local park with whatever you have on hand. Bring some sparkling grape juice, your silverware and a nice table cloth and have an elegant lunch outside. You will look back on these frugal dates when better financial times come and smile.

Know What’s Going On in Your Town

Check out your public library and city or town websites for events.

Our library shows currently popular films for adults and families and offers musical performances year-round at no charge. Our city sponsors outdoor events and concerts throughout the summer at no charge as well. During the school year, school drama clubs and music departments put on entertaining plays and musicals that are often inexpensive to attend.
Lorraine in NH

Time and Communication

Date night isn’t about spending money. Instead, it’s about spending time together and communication. Be imaginative and work together to think of things that you can do together that are free.

My husband and I like things like walking on the beach or having a massage night. My favorite is making our favorite drinks and going outside and cuddling as we watch the sunset. Work together or surprise each other. It really doesn’t matter. Just spend time together and communicate.

I hope you have years of fun and memorable moments.

Share Your Interests

Date night doesn’t have to be at night. You can surprise your husband with a lunch date when meals out are much cheaper, or even pack a lunch for the two of you to eat at the park. Weekend afternoons can be great for walking nature trails or the beach, offshore or pier fishing, or attending free events in your area.

We have spent an afternoon downtown riding the free trolley and getting off at stops to walk around and window shop. You can also volunteer together for a cause you both feel passionate about. The point is to spend time together away from the everyday routine of work, chores and childcare and share your interests.

If it’s a little more spark you’re looking for, text “nooner” to your husband on a day when you can meet him at home for lunch.

Reviewed July 2023

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