Cheap Date Ideas for Couples on a Budget

Spending time together is important for the happiness of most couples. Unfortunately, time can be hard to find and dates that cost lots of money can be devastating to a couple’s finances. First, let’s explain why dating is so important for couples (including couples on a budget), and then we will give you our top 5 cheap date ideas. And don’t worry, we won’t suggest anything cheesy; we want you to know how to plan a cheap date without being a “cheap date.”

Why Cheap Dates Make Couples Happier

Dating can remove some of life’s distractions and help you and your partner focus on each other. A successful date means time alone, without the stress of work or the responsibilities of looking after children. When couples get this sort of alone time, they are able to communicate and get to know each other on a deeper level. As you know, communication is key to a long and successful relationship, and this time to talk will probably strengthen communication even when the kids and other distractions are around. And, one topic that might come up in this alone time is finances, giving couples a chance to discuss financial goals and make level-headed financial decisions.

A recent look at the importance of date night’s from The Marriage Project claims that “date nights may afford couples the opportunity to discuss things that are important to them—from their shared dreams for the future to the state of their family finances.” Of course, “shared dreams” and “family finances” go hand in hand.

Dates are about more than just talking and communicating. They are about having fun and enjoying memorable experiences. In fact, the same study from The Marriage Project claims that couples who “engage in novel activities that are fun, active, or otherwise arousing—from hiking to dancing to travel to card games—enjoy higher levels of relationship quality.” This is great news; who knew that doing fun things with your partner is not only fun in the short-term but can help strengthen the quality and duration of the relationship?

Here’s the catch. We don’t want date nights to be incredibly expensive, especially for couples on a budget. If we don’t prepare financially for date night, the joys of romantic time together will be spoiled by the stress of spending too much money. We need to have fun and reap the benefits of a date without the extra, unplanned costs. Here’s a quick fix. Follow these 5 steps to plan a cheap date night:

  • Sit down
  • Decide how many “date nights” you want to have each month
  • Pick from a list of date night ideas (like our “Top 5 cheap date ideas for couples on a budget”) and choose which activities you want to do for each date
  • Calculate the prices for each activity
  • Work these figures into your monthly budget worksheet

It’s that simple. Now, who wants to see some great cheap date ideas for couples on a budget?

Cheap Date Ideas

Eat Together

couple eating on a date

It’s the simplest of our date night ideas, but if you have kids or busy work schedules, just having a meal together may be a rare occasion. For your special date night, you have several affordable options depending on what you and your partner consider to be romantic. Judith Martin once said about dating, “Under no circumstances can the food be omitted.”

Go candlelight. You can make a romantic dinner at home and eat in the ambiance of a candlelit table. Make your favorite food or try a different recipe. Whichever you choose, be a smart grocery shopper and plan ahead. Use your grocery coupon skills to keep the meal affordable.

Go out to eat. Take your partner to his or her favorite restaurant. Maybe you have saved extra funds into your monthly budget for this special occasion, or maybe you have a coupon. Either way, relax and enjoy the good food and conversation.

Go on a Local Trip

couple sightseeing

Plan a weekend staycation or a quick day trip to a site or attraction less than 90 miles from your home. Going this distance will feel like a vacation but won’t hit your finances like one. And, it’s far enough to classify as a “road trip,” which means you should totally make a custom playlist and eat some questionable gas station fare along the way. Maybe it’s the beach, a museum or historical site, or even an amusement park. Whatever the location, look for discounts on hotels, package deals, coupons, and any other ways to save.

Go Dancing

couple dancing on a date

Perhaps the most intimate of our date ideas for couples, dancing will let you feel close to your partner while also serving as a form of exercise. Many studios offer weekly dance classes that allow you to learn different styles and moves, but these can be expensive. Again, price research and budgeting will ensure you and your partner can afford it. If you aren’t ready for the commitment of a weekly class, look for community dances. Believe it or not, many church groups and other community organizations host dances on the weekends. Entry to these types of events is often somewhere around $10 per person. These events allow couples to have a cheap date night full of music and fun.

Go Natural

couple hiking on a date

Nothing says cheap romance like a picnic or a walk in the park. These activities are usually free or very inexpensive, making them great choices for couples on a budget. Or, if you really enjoy the outdoors, you can go off the beaten path to hike in the mountains, see a waterfall, or look for wildlife. State and national parks around the country offer affordable admission rates and an array of services and activities. Go hiking, canoeing, or even camping on your outdoor adventure.

Go Extreme

couple skydiving on an extreme date

To be fair, this isn’t necessarily a “cheap” date idea for couples, but it is affordable for couples who have been saving and budgeting responsibly. If you and your partner are looking for a real adventure, a memorable experience like no other, go skydiving, rock climbing, or even hit some white water rapids. These types of extreme adventures require and strengthen trust in a relationship. They also give you and your partner stories and memories that you can cherish for years to come.

Learn More about Love and Money

If you want more help with creative budget ideas, or just want a pro to review your financial situation, we can help. Our expert counselors can help you make a game plan for your future and provide suggestions for any debt you may have. So, have a chat with your partner, and plan a date for a free credit counseling session!

Thomas Bright is a longstanding Clearpoint blogger and student loan repayment aficionado who hopes that his writing can simplify complex subjects. When he’s not writing, you’ll find him hiking, running or reading philosophy. You can follow him on Twitter.

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2 responses to “Cheap Date Ideas for Couples on a Budget”

  • Elliott Bailey

    Thanks for the list!

    An awesome example of a ‘go natural’ date we love doing together is Geocaching. It’s like a real world treasure hunt that uses an app on your phone. The apps even free! All you have to do download it and search nearby of others.