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“These 6 Tips Will Help You Have a Killer Date Night on a Budget,” is a guest post contributed by Jen Smith at The Penny Hoarder, one of the largest personal finance websites with more than 19 million monthly readers. In 2016, the Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder the 32nd fastest-growing private company and the No. 1 fastest-growing private media company in the United States.
While I love being married, sometimes I think back to when my husband and I were dating. I miss date nights when my husband was still trying to impress me and we weren’t on a budget.
In the last two years we’ve paid off almost $78,000 in debt, so date nights look a little different than they used to. We still go out because investing in our relationship is as important to us as investing for retirement, but they’re frugal dates.
We’ve found some tried and true ways to have a fun and romantic date night on a budget without spending a lot of money. If you’re looking to spice things up while on a tight budget you should try them out!
1. Free Events
Movies in the park during summer and Christmas light tours in the winter are just some of the free events we attend. We’re lucky that our city hosts a lot events, but we love to drive to smaller cities for new scenery and smaller crowds.
Facebook is the easiest way to find free events near you, but you can also check your city’s tourism website or sign up for local newsletters. MeetUp and Eventbrite sometimes list free events as well.
You can find discounts on things to do, where to eat after and where to work out the next day (because dessert Groupons are real). Groupon is your one stop shop for a date night on a budget. But you don’t have to stop there.
LivingSocial has most of the same deals as Groupon but occasionally has a few unique ones. There are also local versions. In my area we have Creative Loafing, while other cities have Blackboard Eats, Cudo, and Deal Leak.
3. Discounted & Free Gift Cards
Have a coupon to a restaurant, but the bill is still a little out of your budget? Discounted gift cards to the rescue! You can save 10% to 20% off retail on people’s unwanted gift cards and use your coupons, Groupons or other discount on top. I like the site Gift Card Granny because it gives you the best deals from multiple websites.
You can also earn free gift cards by purchasing gift cards, referring friends and submitting deals and coupons to Gift Card Granny. You can earn them on other sites like Swagbucks and survey sites.
4. Mystery Shopping
Secret shopping might be our favorite way to do date night. We go out to nice dinners, mini-golfing, roller skating, bars and movies — all paid for in exchange for a written report afterwards.
Be careful of scam companies — legit companies never make you pay to see job boards, and schedulers are always available and willing to answer questions. They get paid to recruit people to perform these shops, so they want to help you perform and record them well.
5. “Pick” Your Dinner
My in-laws own a U-pick farm where they sell fruits and vegetables year-round (because, Florida.) We love picking fresh produce and making it for dinner, and it’s way cheaper than any farm-to-table restaurant I’ve seen.
Pickyourown.org has listings of U-pick farms in every state, Britain and Canada. Find one near you or make a little road trip out of it!
6. Game Night
Getting competitive is a fun alternative to the ordinary dinner-and-a-movie date night. Game nights aren’t just for groups — they’re for couples, too. Card games, Battleship and checkers are some of my favorites. As long as you and your partner are good sports, playful bets like “loser takes out the trash” or “winner gets to pick tomorrow’s dinner” are a fun way to amp up the stakes and put some excitement in date night night on a budget!
Whatever you do, keep making date nights a priority in your life and budget. Being debt-free or financially independent isn’t as much fun without your favorite person beside you.