Inexpensive Date Ideas (That Are Still Romantic!)


Bronze Wordsmith
May 17, 2018
After having a couple of kids, juggling some business ventures, and moving house several times, my wife and I reluctantly had to put our romantic excursions on the back burner. There seemed to be just so many expenses, schedules, and other adulting stuff to hurdle so that by day’s end, we were pretty tuckered out and couldn’t even think of going out on a cute date.

But lately, we’ve been considering some cheap date night ideas as a form of self-care, and also to regularly reaffirm our love and affection for each other. Being parents and homemakers-slash-breadwinners shouldn’t take away the romance and spark we found in each other more than a decade ago, right? So we sat down at breakfast one day and decided to rekindle the fine art of going out on dates even if we’re right smack in the middle of raising a family and handling our finances in the most responsible ways we can think of. We came up with five great frugal date night ideas that are in keeping with our monthly budget but still pack a lot of romantic punch.

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Have a coffee and dessert date

We started with a list of what we bonded over the first few times we were going out back in college. We usually just met up for coffee or split a big dessert between us because it was all we could afford on our pocket money. It was nothing fancy, but boy, did we have plenty of meaningful conversations back then!

So it was only natural for us to hark back to our younger, free-spirited selves and go out for fun cheap dates as a married couple today. There’s a cozy coffee shop near our place where we could meet up after my wife is free from work and other daily endeavors, and we can always share something sweet to eat somewhere else afterward and just talk about everything we’ve gone through as a couple.

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Pack a picnic at the park

One of our favorite cute cheap date ideas is to raid our pantry and make sandwiches or pasta dishes to pack in a picnic basket. We usually do that with our kids most Sundays, anyway, so why not do it as an early morning or mid-afternoon date in the springtime? In fact, why stop when the sun is out when we can also have a romantic candle-lit picnic at night when the fireflies are flitting about, and the air smells just lovely with the scent of springtime flowers?

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Pick a resto/hotel deal of the month

Admittedly, there are certain situations when we feel like we should have a more sophisticated or luxurious date night – preferably one where we could dress up, drink some wine, and which doesn’t require us to wash the dishes afterward!

Sometimes, we feel like a bit of pampering is in order. This is especially true when an anniversary or birthday rolls around, but we find ourselves strapped for cash to be able to splash out on something more special.

It’s a good thing we are members of several restaurant and hotel mailing lists and discount or coupon clubs because they offer a vast menu of inexpensive date night ideas! Special occasions are typically honored by establishments like these (I actually get email notifications about special anniversaries and select dates), and we’ve managed to snag great deals, discounts, and even freebies for some of our date nights. Our favorites include deals on couples’ spa sessions, unique gift baskets that go with overnight stays in hotels, and luxurious breakfast buffet spreads!

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Go art gallery/museum hopping

Back when we didn’t have kids and still worked in a corporate setup, my wife and I were able to afford to go to the theater once in a while and even attend a couple of musical concerts of performers we both love. The tickets for those didn’t come cheap, but we made sure to set aside some money for theatrical and musical performances. Then we started a family and decided to work from home, so those cultural events had to take a back seat.

We admittedly stated to miss out on cultural events that helped us think beyond our regular routine. But you know what else is big on culture but doesn’t come with a steeply-priced ticket or admission fee? Art galleries and museums, that’s what!

There are several small artist-run galleries where we live, plus the museums that are available to see a short drive away that charge a small entrance fee. Several times a month, my wife and I can expect an art gallery show with an opening reception, which is usually free to attend and even serves cocktails and hor's d ‘oeuvres to guests. It is always fun looking at art and asking about the creative process from the gallerists and artists themselves. My wife and I find it all exhilarating – mingling with creative and talented people while broadening our appreciation for visual (and sometimes performative) art.

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Consider nature immersion

One of our favorite cheap romantic date ideas is not spending anything at all! When we feel especially weary after working so hard, we find the need to immerse ourselves in nature. There is just something so soothing about being surrounded by bird calls and breathing in fresh air for a change. The best thing about this is that it usually comes free! You just need to know where to go.

There is a short hiking trail about a mile away from where we live, and we would go there early in the morning so we can have a nice picnic under a canopy of trees by lunchtime. We follow a path that runs along a stream so we would know our way back, though the trail is an easy hike even for beginners with directions every few feet or so. By the time we get back in the late afternoon, my wife and I would feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the work-week and other challenges of our careers (as well as being parents).

So who says romance has to die when you start becoming frugal for the sake of your family? These inexpensive date ideas prove that you only need to be creative and think beyond the usual. We enjoy coming up with frugal date ideas for the future, so if you have anything romantic to contribute, I would love to hear all about it!

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