Studies show that couples who commit to a regular date night routine are happier and more connected. Why? Because quality time makes us feel more connected and more in sync. One-on-one moments with your one-and-only are vital to keeping all those lovey-dovey feelings alive! Date nights don’t have to be expensive. In fact, priceless fun can be had with free and/or inexpensive activities. Looking for ways to make date night more affordable? Here are ten ideas aimed at keeping your connection high without breaking the bank:
1. Hit happy hour
Head to happy hour, typically 4-7 pm, when a bevy of bargains await like buy-one, get-one bar beverages and pub grub. If your work schedule permits, scoot out an hour early once a month or quarterly to meet your spouse for a 4 pm date. Drink up a cocktail and chatter without any distractions for that one hour. Not sure where to go? There’s an app for that!
2. Day dating
Dinner dates are at a premium compared to brunch or lunch. Plus brunch is arguably the most delicious meal of the day anyway. Enjoy dining out for far less on a day date and enjoy the added bonus of getting to bed on time!
3. Change it up
Place a “date night jar” on your kitchen counter or nightstand and start filling it up with loose change and spare dollar bills. In a few weeks, you’ll have stocked away enough dough to grab a movie and/or light bite. Also, check to see if your bank does a “keep the change” account where they round up your transactions and stash that cash in a separate account.
4. Swap kid care
Babysitting fees are one reason why many parents nix date night; understandably since caregivers charge between $10-15 per hour. And that racks up quickly, in addition to your date night bill. Instead, swap childcare with another set of parents (who could use a date night, too). It’s a simple swap: you go out one weekend and they go out another. This is great because the kiddos get a fun play date and/or sleepover too, and you don’t have to pay for care!
5. Find freebies
Think free gallery exhibits, winery or brewery tours, no–charge festivals and concerts, u-pick farms and much more. A little creativity can turn a freebie or cheap date into an experience rich in quality!
6. Invest in at-home date night
With a little imagination and pre-planning, you can whip up some quality time without leaving the comfort of your own home. Yes, pajamas can be acceptable date night attire! Some ideas… have a themed night (such as Italian) with your meal, music and movie around it; play classic board games for face-to-face engagement and laughter; relax with a spa-like bubble bath, candles and massage oils; stargaze using an app to magnify stars and constellations for out-of-this-world entertainment; and have some foodie fun with a cheese plate or fondue dessert. For a nominal fee, you can have date night delivered to your door! Home date subscriptions are similar to the service concept of meal delivery kits and come complete with an activity (with necessary tools/items), food and conversation starter questions.
7. Make a deal
Discover discounts for activities, restaurants, travel and goods and services. And don’t be so quick to toss junk mail as weekly advertising flyers containing restaurant coupons too. Many establishments also offer markdowns for patrons who “Like” or “Check-in” on Facebook and sign up for their email list.
8. Get outside
Get outside of your stale (and costly) dinner and a movie routine by physically getting outside to enjoy the great outdoors. Hike a local, state or national park, take a bike ride, go fishing, picnic or hit the beach. Most of the time, these outdoorsy dates won’t cost a dime.
9. Gift giving gravy
Next time loved ones ask what you want for a birthday or holiday present, channel your date night bucket list! Think about gift certificates to movies, restaurants or area attractions.
10. Reward yourselves
Don’t let those airline miles and credit card reward points go to waste. Explore usage options to buy theater tickets, restaurant gift cards and getaways.