Ask the Readers: What is Your Best Frugal Date Idea?

By Ashley Jacobs on 27 November 2012 (Updated 4 December 2012) 56 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Lori P, Tamara, and Linday for winning this week's contest!

Having a date night with your significant other is an important part of keeping the spark alive. Whether you catch a movie, have a romantic dinner, or have some fun at a local bowling alley, date night is a fun way to reconnect with your partner. However, when money is tight, sometimes couples need to be a bit more creative in order to have a great date without breaking the bank.

What is your best frugal date idea? A picnic in the park? Going for a hike? Cooking a fancy dinner at home? Renting movies from Redbox?

Tell us about your best frugal date idea and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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    If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

    Giveaway Rules:

    • Contest ends Monday, December 3rd at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after December 3rd on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
    • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
    • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
    • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Also, don't miss our Best Deals giveaway! Every Sunday for the next five weeks, we will be giving away a $50 Amazon gift card, two copies of our book 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget, and a Wise Bread tote! We will also be giving away a $100 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner who fills out our Best Deals survey. For details, click here!

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture

Check out what's going on at your local college or university.

We've enjoyed comedy improv, musical theater, opera, and more at our local schools. And many of smaller events will have some kind of reception following.

Dinner, a show, and something to talk about on the way home can be a great date for couples--whether they've been together forever or are just getting to know each other.

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Tyler

For a frugal date, I think that dressing up and cooking a fancy dinner and then either renting a movie or doing some dancing at home makes a great date.

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Lisa B.

I like going to an art museum, which is free in my area.

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dysprosium

What's more romantic (and frugal) than a picnic? That's my fave frugal date.

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Guestmike

My best frugal date idea was when I took a girl on a first date (meeting) to a salad bar for lunch.

I had her pay for her meal and I paid for mine.

Never saw her after that though.

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Monica

We like to go to the dollar theater movies, motorcycle rides, and use groupons.

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Lanieekat

My best frugal date idea, and yes my hubby and I have done this. We go to Costco (anytime w/o the kids is a date 2 us) and enjoy the free samples (appetizers) then head to the food court for a $1.50 hot dog/coke combo. On our way home its a stop at Redbox for a couple movie rentals( use a promo code) to save even more.

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Angie

The Zoo in St. Louis is free (and world-class!). The hubs and I usually make a day of it in the spring, summer and fall, by packing a picnic to eat in Forest Park and go see the animals. The experience is always different because you never know which animals will be out and active. Also, it's a great way to get in some exercise by walking around!

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Sarah

Riding bikes to a neighborhood festival

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Matt

My girlfriend and I do not know how to cook as well as we would like. So once every two weeks we set up a "date" with a mutual friend who is an amateur chef and have her set an inexpensive menu for our date and we purchase the required ingredients from the grocery store. Our friend teaches us different cooking techniques and how to properly create the dish while we supply her with wine and share the food with her. It's a great way for us to learn how to cook and very inexpensive when compared to going out to dinner.

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amanda t

For Christmas, Make some homemade hot chocolate and cookies . Drive around looking at christmas lights.

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Jane m

Pack homemade foods meet in a park, hot or cold you can still have a great time!

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Tamara Smith

Recently, my boyfriend and I were visiting my parents in Miami and as a date we decided to explore a part of the city we had never been to. We paid $5 for parking and went window-shopping. It was during happy hour so we spent a total of $7.00 on drinks and had a really good time!

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Nicole G

There is nothing better than getting a bottle of wine, making dinner together and watching a movie.

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Cathy Canton

Best frugel idea is to shop the sales all year for gifts especially for really neat novelty items that can be very expensive full price. Do this for 6 neices and newphews and they love all the really unique stuff I can give them when I save this way

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cynthia rafler

Cooking date night. Even if you don't know how to cook you open up a recipe book and cook a romantic dinner together with wine to drink. To be followed by dvd and dessert.

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Catherine Harrell

My frugal date idea is taking a walk in our downtown area, window shopping. The changing scenery and people give my husband and I something to talk about other than work and kids (which is refreshing). The window shopping also lets us gauge each other's changing interests in things that might make good Christmas or birthday gifts. There is an old fashion drugstore where we will stop and each get a cup of coffee or a soda for $1 and enjoy watching the "regulars" come in.

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Anwesha

Stargazing in the middle of nowhere. Pack up on blankets and comforters. Lie back on the grass and trace the stars and planets. Share a spark in the midst of stars. Make a wish together.

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Betty

I haven't dated in a really long time ( married 100 yrs), but outdoor activities are frugal. Play tennis, go for a hike, etc.

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Abidale

Packing some inexpensive cheese & crackers, a cheap bottle of wine ("Two-Buck Chuck" will do :) and a blanket, and taking a short (for us) drive out to the country where we can lay on the blanket in the back of the truck and look at the stars. We often end up seeing a "shooting star", and we have a wonderful time talking, stress-free...

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Brenda Faulkner

You can never miss with a trolley ride, lunch on the river and walking along the Harrahan bridge!

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Diane

Lots of ideas for this one... a bike ride on the levy (already have bikes!); a home-cooked dinner followed by a movie from redbox or our favorites collection~ with a fire in the fireplace if it's cold; grilling & eating outside on our patio if it's warm; a walk through the sculpture garden in a local park; fruit, cheese & crackers with a glass of wine while watching a movie; a walk along the lakefront; chips & salsa with a Margarita at a local outdoor Mexican restaurant; visiting the Christmas light show at a local park, or driving to look at lights in nearby neighborhoods.

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Alyssa

Me and the fiance go find a hike or park to explore...rain or shine. Which is saying something since we live in WA. :)

Sometimes we throw in some GeoCaching. So fun!

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Alan

A walk to the park, a concert within the local college (acapella groups, choir, music school practice) or if you want to be daring, cook for your date! Though I wouldn't do it on the first date/

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Jen

Walking around the lake, then snuggling under one of the trees on a blanket.

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Happy Love

We tend to call "date night" anytime that we get dressed up to go somewhere. Typically that's a concert or performance of some type (cost ranging from a "free-will offering" to more expensive), accompanied by dinner at a restaurant where we have a coupon or Groupon of some type. We seem to have a date like this about once every other month so even though there is expense involved, spread out over time, it's not that great.

Our usual "quality time" date together (on a weekly basis) involves meeting at Perkins (family restauarant) after I finish swimming at the pool or watching a Netflix movie in our living room.

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emily

Going on a hike or bike ride then heading to a brewery for the free samples!

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Lori P

Taking a ride on our HD up to Gold country, using a free pass to a local museum and getting a sandwich to share in a local shop.

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Miranda

My boyfriend and I love going to the local Humane Society and playing with all the wonderful animals! The staff let you stay as long as you like, since they don't usually have time to give each animal the attention it really needs. We also like to pick up food from a restaurant (we usually split a meal) and bring it home to enjoy while watching a movie :) Hiking, walking and general outdoor activities are also usually a cheap, fun way to spend a day. We'll bring our lunches to have on the top of a mountain, can't get any better than some fresh air and great scenery!

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kristina

Go hiking

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margaret a kocevar

In Cleveland we have the "Emerald Necklace" which is a metropolitan park broken up into many parks surrounding the city. The perfect set of dates would be to visit one every saturday until you have seen the hidden gems throughout the city. The only cost could be for a couple water bottles.

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KelR1

Cooking dinner together followed by board games!

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Amanda

A trip to the bookstore is great. We have fun reading jokes to each other in the humor section, dreaming about vacations from the travel books, planning projects from the home and garden area, and even being romantic with the poetry books without buying a thing. Paired with a nice cup of coffee, this makes for a frugal way for us to have fun and re-connect.

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Rebecca B. A. R.

I really like having a great homemade dinner together, then taking the dogs on a walk, then coming back to a movie and dessert at home.

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Meggrz

I find all the best dates tend to be somewhat physically active - so biking to the park downtown for a free outdoor movie screening, walking to the antique shops or museums near my place, or spending an afternoon trekking around our friendly, local, national park are all great options in my opinion.

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Christie

My favorite frugal date when we were first married was coffee night. We would go to our local coffee place that had BOGO once in a while and talk or read together. Now that we've been married 17 years, our favorite date night is Cheese night. We buy 3 or 4 cheeses and have some sparkling juice and homemade bread and salad and stay home for a gourmet treat. Our kids are jealous though, they love to join our Cheese nights!

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Molly

Taking a walk together and having a picnic is great way to spend time and not much money!

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KF

Cooking a fancy homemade dinner and dessert is an excellent date idea. Maybe not a first date, but definitely after that.

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A matinee movie and ice cream date would be fun and frugal!

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Chris

Our most frugal date... Every other month we donate blood at the blood mobile outside the movie theater and enjoy our FREE movie tickets. The ticket takers never blink an eye when we walk in with our own water or juice... in fact they thank us for donating blood. So, we get free movie passes then walk in with free drinks and snacks from the blood mobile. It's pretty cool.

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Jeannine Ryman

A great frugal date idea, which I have done, is to visit local free museums. It's always an excellent way to spark conversation and is something fun and interesting to be enjoyed together. I have also gone on a mid-day date to an ice skating rink when the rink was offering half off prices or something along those lines so it was really fun and pretty inexpensive.

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Jerry

My favorite frugal date is to have a picnic in the summer along the National Mall, followed by an afternoon of kite-flying. When it's the season forit, there are hundreds of beautiful kites in the air!

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Guest

I really like movie nights and hiking dates.

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MSB

Board game night. Gather some snacks, alcoholic beverage of choice, and a two player game and enjoy each other's company. Our competitive sides come out, which make it even more fun.

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holly

When we're feeling not as frugal we love ordering an appitizer or takeout side, and watching a B movie curled up on the couch.

one of our favorite really frugal 'dates' is playing with the kids blocks after they go to bed.

We date each other everyday though, doing fun or sweet things tomake each other feel special.

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Mel

My husband and I like to hike the mountains (or other great trails) and pack a lunch. Not only is it a great workout, we have some of our best conversations sitting high above the city and soaking in the fresh air.

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Guest

Dinner at her house just after she's gone shopping for the week, followed with a good movie and popcorn.

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Liz

The Friday before hurricane sandy my husband and I made a picnic and went to bear mountain state park. For some reason they were not charging for parking that day. The weather was beautiful and the trees were at their peak of color. We walked around the lake, hiked one of the paths and went to the zoo. The only cost was the suggested donation to the zoo of $1 per person. Total cost for a great day $2.

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Stefanie

For a frugal summer date, I recommend bringing a picnic to an afternoon or evening free concert or play in a park. I live in Portland, OR and during the summer there are tons of free activities in parks all over the city and my partner and I have attended and brought picnics several times. Its great fun.

For a wintery frugal date, nothing beats snuggling on the couch with a great movie or tv on dvd, the fire roaring in the fireplace, and mugs of hot chocolate, tea, or cider. Cheap and easy, but delightful as well!

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Debra K

Check out museums when they're free. Or check out other free events in your area, such as concerts or movies in the park, etc. We don't do things like that regularly, so our "dates" are usually nicer-than-normal meals at home and a movie from the library or Netflix. Or we may switch babysitting with a friend and hit a cheap theater.

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Erin

Best frugal date idea.... Using the free movie tickets I got on Black Friday for purchasing clearance coffee that came out to $1.43 and using the free pizza coupon I got from Grimaldi's for my birthday in the same night to create dinner and a movie night for basically nothing.

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Bri

I'm signed up for the Uno's Insider Club and every week I receive coupons in my inbox for either a buy one get one free entree or $5 off of a $15 purchase. My boyfriend and I just get water to drink and then split a pizza or get a few yummy appetizers and then spend time together or visit with his parents after we get back from dinner.

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katie m

My husband and I live on a very picturesque waterfront part of the city, so it is conducive to "portable happy hour". Put a cocktail in a travel mug, a baggie of crackers in one pocket, and a baggie of cheese in the other, and stroll together watching all the cute dogs get their evening walk!

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Carmen

I like putting my daughter to bed early and having a late night supper - or maybe just a fancy dessert purchased somewhere with my husband.

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Heather Pearce

The Portland Art Museum has a free Friday every month, where there is no admission fee. Last month, we made dinner at my place, then took the train to the art museum. Afterwards, we went to one of the local bars that has a live band and no admission fee. The whole evening cost us train fare and the price of a beer.