How do you plan a great date night when you’re on a tight budget?

Marriage comes in stages, and for many people there is a long stage where money is tight. But that doesn’t mean you stop having fun together–not at all! Today it’s Rebecca and Joanna on the blog, two millennials still in that starting-out phase of life to chime in with some of their favorite cheap date night ideas.

Let’s go!

This post is brought to you by Hive, an awesome board game we love and are thrilled to be partnered with! All opinions are our own. Enjoy!

Ideas to help you strengthen your friendship

Date night is meant to bring you closer together! So let’s look at a few ideas that will help your friendship grow without breaking the bank!

1. Bring a board game to a pub or games loft

See if there are restaurants, pubs, or games lofts where you can bring one of your favorite games and enjoy with a cup of coffee or an appy to share.

Sheila and Keith have done this a number of times recently, specifically with the game Hive. Hive is sponsoring this post, and we absolutely love their game so here’s a quick run-down of what it’s all about.

Playing Hive for 2 Players at Local Pub Night

Sheila and Keith playing Hive at a local pub night

In the basic Hive game, you have 5 types of pieces:
  • The Queen Bee, who can move one space;
  • Beetles, who can move one space, but who can ALSO climb on top of other pieces
  • Spiders, who can move exactly three;
  • Grasshoppers, who can jump over any number of pieces in a straight line;
  • And ants, who can travel around the outside of the hive and go anywhere.

Hive Game for 2 Players: How the pieces move

It’s like chess, and easy to pick up on! If you want to get a more in-depth review, check out the post Sheila did on the Hive game here.

2. Explore nature

When Joanna and her husband go on a date, they’re usually going on a hike. It’s free to do, you can pack some snacks and even some hot drinks in a thermos if it’s cold. It’s great to escape from the hustle of everyday life and just enjoy some time in the outdoors. Many cities have free architecture walking tour guides available, if that’s your jam. There’s also always a nature hike. When we (Joanna and Josiah) lived in Saskatoon, we would walk through our favorite neighborhood and dream about the home we’d want to own someday. Dreaming together made making conversation with my introverted husband easier.

3. Get active!

Grab a basketball and play some one-on-one in a local basketball court. Or grab some tennis rackets and play tennis! But go outside, breathe the fresh air, and have some fun for no cost at all (or minimal if you have to pay to use the court!) Have a competition at a local playground to see who can traverse obstacles the fastest and then recreate your playground kid days by checking out the swing situation. We (Joanna and Josiah) have done this on a number of occasions and it’s always a lot of ridiculous fun.

4. Recreate special memories

Take a walk by the river beside the restaurant of your first date. Do you live in the city where you got married? Take a picnic to where you took your wedding pictures! Bonus marks if you recreate some of them.

Look back on what has special meaning to your story, and revisit those times or places. Pull out photo albums, go through journals you kept when you were first getting to know each other, something to help you go through memory lane and stir up that feeling of nostalgia.

Food-related ideas

But what if you really do want to go out to eat? It’s a treat to go out to eat and it’s really fun to have food you wouldn’t make if you were at home.

5. Get the best you can with the budget you have

Often our approach to a low-budget date is to get the MOST we can with the limited funds we have. Have $35 for dinner? We go to a mid-tier restaurant to get huge portion sizes of food that’s a 3 out of 5.

What Connor and I (Rebecca) enjoy doing, though, is often figuring out, “What’s the BEST we can get with that $35?” We have a cheap meal at home but then maybe go for gourmet coffee and French baked goods at a store around the corner. Often we don’t even use the whole budget, but we feel like we’ve gotten more out of it.

I believe there’s something to be said for quality over quantity when it comes to food. Often date nights revolve around eating, so why not make eating an experience? If you’re willing to make something cheap at home you can often find something amazing to share that takes your date night from feeling on a budget to quite extravagant, even if you spend less money in the end!

6. Check out the restaurants in ethnic neighborhoods in your city

Want a date night with amazing food and atmosphere? Look for restaurants that are really authentic. They’re often cheaper than your mainstream options, and they have better food, too! Plus, these restaurants are often owned by local families instead of larger chains, so you’re supporting your neighbors at the same time–it’s a win-win!

One of the reasons date night gets bland is that we stop pushing ourselves or trying new things. We settle into a comfortable routine. So try some new places, some new types of food, and see what you like!

7. Go for appetizers or dessert instead of dinner

Dinner is expensive. So why not just have it at home? Instead, go somewhere and get some great appetizers to share, and then go home for dinner! Or have your dinner and then go out for that amazing cheesecake you just can’t rationalize getting after you’ve just bought a whole meal.

You get the same atmosphere, you still get out of the house, but it’s much more budget friendly.

Cheap and Easy Budget Friendly Date Night Ideas

8. Try breakfast or brunch instead

Skip the Friday night dinner for a Saturday morning brunch! The food is great, the prices are half of what the dinner menu is, and you get to start your weekend off on the right foot by having some fun together. I (Joanna) love going out for breakfast – and it’s a really nice way to start a Saturday morning intentionally. Plus, I figure I wasn’t going to make Eggs Benedict at home, so I’m still getting something out of the ordinary.

Some ideas to help you grow together

Date night doesn’t just need to mean you go out to eat. It’s about connecting; doing something together. Here are some ideas of ways you can spend quality time together in ways that can also nourish your spirit.

9. Babysit for a friend together

Pet-sitting counts, too! Joanna and Josiah are wonderful and will take care of Connor and my dog, Winston, when we need them to in a pinch. They get to laugh at their daughter lunging after the tiny dog, they get outside to go for walks, and also can know that they’re helping out a friend together! (Joanna here – our baby LOVES Winston so it’s a total win for us too! Though when we lived on a farm poor Winston was nearly scared to death by a horse and then tried to out-macho an alpaca… the little guy is still recovering.)

Connor and I love babysitting our little God-daughter together. There’s something really special about working together to make another person’s life easier, even if it just means taking care of a toddler for an evening or two!

If you and your spouse are looking to have kids in the future but haven’t yet, I cannot recommend this “date night” enough! It starts some really important conversations, you get to see the other taking care of a child, and you start to be able to picture yourself as a parent. It’s a really wonderful experience.

(And of course, if you want to get a pet, these kinds of pet-sitting date nights can really help you figure out if it’s actually something you want!)

10. Plan a great scavenger date night with friends!

Date night doesn’t just need to be about you and your spouse–it can also be about pouring into another friend’s marriage. We love the photo scavenger date night idea, and how much more fun if you make it a competition between the couples? Or make it women versus men, maybe! Then end with a picnic or a potluck and see who won!

Your marriage is important, and it’s so important to take time to make it a priority. And if you can use that time to also feed into a friend’s marriage, that’s even better.

What are some of your favorite cheap date night ideas? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear your tips!

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