Cheap Date Night Ideas

cheap date night ideas

It’s the weekend, which typically means (for those of us that are lucky) quality time for relaxing, with family, or, hopefully, with a significant other. But, when on a budget, you may feel trapped in your home. The good news is that you can still enjoy special time together without overdrawing your bank account. You just need some cheap date night ideas, and I am here to help.

It’s been commonly stated that 50% of marriages are likely to end in divorce, but Time magazine showed us the bright side recently in this article titled, “Divorce Rate in U.S. Drops to Nearly 40-Year Low” posted late last year. In the article, Time writer Abigail Abrams shared data showing that the U.S. divorce rate has actually dropped for the third year in a row while marriage rates have increased. While this is great to hear, it does not take away from the fact that marriage, and all relationships for that matter, take work. But, when money is tight, it’s hard to imagine how you can keep the chemistry alive when you feel confined to your house. Because I’ve been there, I put together some cheap date night ideas that you can use with your significant other this weekend:

Cheap Date Night Ideas:

1. Turn Your House Into a Spa.

Couples massages sound fabulous, but they certainly are not cheap. Instead, turn your house into a spa and give each other massages. Play relaxing music, light some tea candles, give some foot rubs and put some bubbles in the bathtub. Have kids? Ask a friend or family member to take them for the night so that you have the house all to yourself.

2. Make That Fancy Dinner at Home

Nothing beats a night out for a delicious and fancy dinner, but your bank account may disagree. There is no denying that it is cheaper to just eat at home. But, you don’t have to necessarily sacrifice the fanciness. If you want to really give that “going out” effect, make a little menu for you and your partner to look over. Make it even more realistic by incorporating a choice of a fish or white or red meat. Include an appetizer and dessert. Peruse your cupboards for items you may already have (spices, herbs, etc.) and base your recipes off ingredients you already mostly have. Then, take a trip to the grocery store together to buy the ingredients you need and cook the meals together. Dessert can simply be a low-cost ice cream or cake.

3. Go Out to a Local Play

Many areas have local and smaller theaters that are just begging for you to attend. You will likely be pleasantly surprised at how much you will enjoy the show put on by local actors. Additionally, you could attend a high school play together. This not only supports the students but gives you another cheap date night idea.

4. Take a Hike

Of course, I mean this in the literal sense. Not only will you be promoting healthy activity together, but spending time in the woods encourages you both to unplug and only focus on each other and the beauty around you.

5. Go Camping

Have an entire weekend to yourselves? Go camping. It is really cheap to go to a campsite and pitch your own tent. Not to mention, camping is also a great way to bond. My beau and I like to make up our own games as entertainment when we go, so we are never bored. Plus, we laugh about the silly things we do or talk about later, which helps to strengthen our relationship even more.

6. Go On a Late-Night Picnic

Keep the adventure and excitement alive by choosing a spot nearby to go on a late-night picnic. You don’t even need much; just picnic on the roof of your car and look at the stars together. If you live near a lake or pond, park yourselves there. Play the 20 questions game, which is where you have an idea, person, or thing in mind and the other person has to guess what it is in 20 questions. You’d be surprised at how fun this simple game can be with your significant other.

7. Go for Breakfast Instead

Cheap date night ideas do not have to occur at night. Breakfast is much cheaper, so you can still enjoy going out to eat together without the added costs. Coffee dates can even be your entire date.

8. Play Games

Dust off your favorite board games and tap into your inner youthful self by playing board games together. You could even invite friends over and have a double-date, if you will, by hosting a game night at your house. Another game option would be to play tennis, basketball or other sports either at your local community center or parks.

The above are just a few ideas to help you save money while also enhancing your relationship. What would you add to the list? 

Cool and Cost-Effective Birthday Gift Ideas for your Girlfriend

couple-2180541_640So. This is the year – the year when everything is going to go completely right, and you’ll have the perfect gifts for your girlfriend for every occasion! Unfortunately, things have turned out to not be so simple – money, shopping time, the necessity for secrecy while at the same time trying to squirrel out what exactly your girlfriend wants and expects….

It’s a bit of a minefield, and as the internet forums which always seems to spring to life around times of gift-giving, not everyone is as good at giving gifts as they seem to think they are. It is harder than people think, finding the best present ever.

But there is hope! This article will detail some of the best presents to get in greater detail, but for now, some general points: what is true for people in general will most likely also be true for your girlfriend – she would probably prefer a gift of something she wants rather than something she needs in her day-to-day life (the cliché of getting a woman a hoover as a present is a cliché for a reason, after all). This is obviously something which varies from person to person, and you will know better than a random article writer, but generally, women don’t like to be reminded of everyday things and needs on the day which is supposed to be dedicated to her feeling special.

You should definitely listen for hints as to what to buy your girlfriend for her birthday – she will make sure you know what she likes, and what she wants – but don’t make the mistake of thinking that everything your girlfriend mentions is something she wants to be given!

Jewelry

Do we really need to explain why jewelry is a good gift?  Of course we don’t, but let’s go ahead and review: jewelry is pretty, and so sparkly….it is also something that many women might not buy for themselves, since it is not strictly a necessity, which makes it ideal to buy for a gift.

There are so many different types of jewelry as well – there are rings (be careful with this one, though!!), necklaces, bracelets, earrings, with there being seemingly endless permutations on those basic categories. Costume jewelry is generally cheaper (and showier, hence the name) than other kinds of jewelry, because of the materials used in its construction, but the internet has opened up a wider avenue of possibilities to the average buyer.

Alcohol

Alcohol is a safe bet for probably the same reasons that jewelry is, as can be shown in the appropriate sections like the personalised gifts from Gifts To Last. There are probably even more types of alcohol than there are types of jewelry, though the guidelines on which type of alcohol to get which person are at least less stringent.

In addition to the alcohol itself, there are endless amount of paraphernalia which can be given to people who enjoy their drinks – glasses, cocktail shakers, measuring cups, recipes…

The list goes on.

There you have it!  This is only the beginning, but hopefully this article will give some indication of what to do (and not do) when it comes to buying gifts!

How to Get Your Spouse on Board with Saving More

spouse

It’s no secret that finances are a touchy subject in relationships, and I’ve talked about this before here on Suburban Finance. But, one of the best ways to prevent issues is to be very open and honest about money in the household. How do you do that, though, if you have a hard time getting your spouse on board with a budget?

When my beau and I moved in together four years ago, we had to talk about all the unexciting (but important!) stuff like who is going to handle what bills, how we would split the rent and so on. As our relationship and lives have evolved, we have had to revisit this conversation over the years.

Ryan made the decision to go to medical school, a decision of which I am very proud and supportive; however, this means our spending habits have to change. Between the two of us, I am typically the one always thinking of ways to save. I had to get him on the frugal life bandwagon as well so that we will have less to worry about once he is in school full-time.

He may not be my official spouse yet, but here are a few do’s and don’ts on how to keep the money conversation from turning into a war:

Don’t be controlling

Household decisions need to be made together, not forced upon one another. Everything Ryan and I do, we try to make it a team effort. Money decisions are no different. Over the last seven and a half years, we’ve learned that the way we view money and saving do differ. So, try to pick ways to save that work for each other instead of against each other. Ultimately, you only have control over yourself. You can encourage change, but the more you push, the more resistance (or resentment) you may get. Realizing this first is the initial step.

Do set aside time for the conversation

Conversations involving finances in the home should not be rushed. Set aside time with your wife or husband to discuss one another’s financial goals. Be understanding of your spouse and their point of view as you try to explain your own.

For me, I mentioned wanting to use money we would have spent on ordering food three weeks in a row on a nice (much needed) date night out. Ryan agreed, and so he is much more conscious of this before dialing the phone for take out. This is just one real-life example of many, but I began my own conversation with bringing up this point as well as the amount spent and how it could be better used in our lives.

What might work for you is trying to find that common ground of things you may want to do together but can’t due to other financial obligations. Working together to find ways to accomplish those things is so rewarding in so many ways. Perhaps your matching goals are as simple as wanting to pay off your credit card debt within the year. This is a great starting point in developing a savings plan together.

Don’t judge your spouse’s spending habits

Ryan has a lot of outdoor hobbies, so he often likes to spend his extra cash on items for his mountain bike or new running shoes. My current spending habits are very focused on my business as well as updating our home. If either of us judged the other for how we spend our money, it would put an extra strain on our relationship.

If you want to make changes, start with yourself. Then, you can bring this up in casual conversations as follow-ups from your previous money discussion, such as:

  • “So, I decided not to buy all those new clothes and put that money in my retirement fund instead.”
  • “I’m doing this thing where any time I want to buy coffee out, I put that money into our travel savings instead. I was hoping we might be able to do that weekend getaway in the mountains we’ve been talking about.”

As mentioned in point number one, don’t try to force actions; encourage them.

Do be open and honest

If you are finding that you still have a hard time getting your spouse on board, it’s time to get a little more straight forward. Bring up the household expenses and income and go over the numbers in more detail together. Show your husband or wife why you are concerned and ask for his or her input on suggestions for change. Of course, you can discuss your own ideas, but again, finances should be a team effort; therefore, you really need to focus on gaining their insight on the situation as well. Find out their concerns and work it out together.

This may be a good time to call on an expert. Your expert of choice does not have to be a therapist. You can simply look to a financial professional and/or purchase a well-received book regarding money saving tips and building wealth. Ask your significant other to read it as well. When you are on the road together, you can download an Audible version to ensure you are both absorbing the information together. Personally, I recommend Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.

Usually, what I have found works best (and what seems to also work best for my friends and family) is simply showing the numbers. There are a lot of great apps out there to help calculate where you are spending your money the most, like Mint.com, but I typically just refer to my online banking account, which does this for me as well. Choose what works best for you.

Household budgeting is no easy task, and it can take just as much as work as your relationship, I have found. It seems the biggest issues is just not knowing how much money is being wasted. But, realizing one another’s goals and expressing interest in achieving them together has proven successful for me and my relationship. If your spouse knows how important it is for you to not only see your own savings goals met but his or hers, you’ll find saving to actually be pretty fun and exciting.

Is this a challenge you have faced? What has worked for you?