Eight Cheap Dates
Has budget dating become a real drag? Looking for ways to be really romantic while you're really broke? It's a challenge for married and unmarried couples alike. Here are eight easy ways to light a stylish spark without driving your budget into the ditch.
A Matinée and Happy Hour.
This is basically dinner and a movie in reverse. By simply switching the order and time of day you do this, your cash outlay reduces dramatically. Depending on what time in the afternoon you go, you might even have time for a double feature. Then check out your local eateries and see what happy hour deals your favorite places offer. When we lived outside of Tucson, there was an Applebees right next to on of the theaters we liked to go to. And their happy hour deal had half price drinks and appetizers for several hours in the late afternoon and early evening. With both entertainment and food at such a discount, you're able to keep the date in budget even if you want to indulge a little more.
Share a Footlong.
Subway is now offering all of their twelve inch subs for five dollars. Get the meal deal, go easy on the ice in the drink, and take it to a scenic spot for a more modern version of the scene from Lady and the Tramp. Sharing an entrée in general is a great way to be able to eat out affordably.
Open Mic Night.
This is basically a no brainer. Most of these I've been to are either at a hall where you pay a minimum donation, or a club or coffee house where you can go for drinks only. Hey, it's cheaper than a hundred dollar dinner out, right? Order a pitcher of draft and share it with another couple on a double date.
Stroll and Snack.
This one can be successfully modified for a variety of situations. Beach walk and an ice cream, cruising the piazza while sharing a portable panini, and sharing a hot giant pretzel while walking the street performers' circuit are just a few ideas.
Picnics in the Park.
Now, before you assume this can only be hum-drum, here are a few ideas: First, pair the picnic with some form of free entertainment such as Shakespeare under the stars, a free concert, public dance performance, children's theater presentation, etc. Next, put some effort into planning the picnic menu so it will feel like more of a date. Wine, cheese and bread with sliced fruit, biscotti and iced coffee with pressed sandwiches . . . you get the idea.
Since you are doing this as a date, get a great campground in a fun location with a decent number of included amenities. KOA comes to mind as a good example. They have tree-canopied campsites with electricity and water, fire pits and picnic tables, swimming pools, clean showers with changing areas, laundry, high speed wireless service and more. You'll be able to get away to a simplified environment without having to “rough it” to the extreme. Bonus? It's an excellent litmus test for how you'll problem solve things as a couple.
Couples Massage, DIY Style.
We actually own a professional massage table. While it's in storage right now, it's one of the things we miss the most. Grant you, as necessities go, this would not be at the top of many couples' lists. But it's one of my favorite indulgences, and with the treatments I like to get, the massage table paid for itself within three uses. While it's not my husband's top favorite vacation activity, he does occasionally indulge for relaxation. What we found though, was that once we bought the table and the spa cost of a massage was no longer an issue, we enjoyed them more and indulged more often. It's a great at-home date that's way more of an intimacy builder than movie night. (Not that we don't enjoy at home movies on a regular basis.) Bonus? The table is really the largest expense. So if you decide to incorporate this as a regular part of your dating routine, upgrades such as hot stones, face rest pillow covers and essential oils for homemade massage products are all easily incorporated into your budget from time to time. It also provides an overall gift theme for things you can pick up for each other affordably, such as soothing background music, massage instructional videos for special techniques, etc. Toss in a few affordable bathroom upgrades, and you'll have an at home spa in no time.
If you each have a digital camera, fantastic. If not, it's an excellent opportunity to promote greater intimacy through sharing. Pick a place that's ripe with photo opportunity and take playful shots of each other and the area in general. Remote waterfall, picturesque piazza, hip downtown historic district . . . you get the idea. Incorporate lunch or a brown bag picnic. Review your photos together at the end of the day and pick your favorites to play in a digital frame. Or, have a little extra creative fun by editing a travel style photo essay together.
So there you have it, Wise Bread readers. Eight cheap dates with a reasonable amount of style. Got another idea for a great cheap date? Bestow your budget brilliance upon us in the comment section below.