Date nights can be a great way to reconnect with your partner when overwhelmed with all the tasks of daily life. It can also be a not-so-great way to reconnect with your wallet or credit card once you pay the babysitter, eat a fancy dinner, and catch a show.
Choosing cheap date ideas over expensive ones means you’ll be able to have date nights more often. And while you should be budgeting for date nights, they don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. One of the best ways to start living below your means is to begin with finding free and cheap entertainment.
What are some good cheap date ideas?
The best cheap date ideas are ones where you’re doing something you both enjoy. The goal is to spend time together and connect. Think about what your common interests are, and find ways to do them cheaply.
If you’re in to home improvement, go window shopping. If you love movies, set up a projector in the backyard with some popcorn. Love art? Take sketchbooks to the park along with a picnic basket of treats.
No matter where you’re at on your debt repayment journey, cheap date nights are important. Putting your relationships on pause just to pay off debt can cause a lot of regret and possible damage. However, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to nuture those relationships and keep the ol’ home fires burning while paying off debt.
So what can you do for a cheap date night? Luckily, I’ve pulled together some of the best cheap date ideas that not only save money, but make for a great time as well.
Cheap First Date Ideas
Listen, it’s been a good while since I’ve been on a first date, but I’m sure the premise is still the same: find fun things to do that aren’t too awkward and still allow you to talk with each other. Sound about right?
Even though it’s been a while, I know there are still things that you want to achieve. (No, not that. Sheesh.) I mean, getting to know the other person without shelling out an arm and a leg, but not looking super cheap either (save that for the 3rd date, at least). Here are my favorite creative date night ideas for first dates:
1. Find discount tickets on local events.
Groupon always has lots of discounted tickets to local activities. Just put in the name of your town or zip code, and you’ll find discounts on anything from painting pottery to escape rooms. It’s also a great way to find new and unique experiences that you haven’t done before, creating some interesting talking points with your date.
2. See a movie with discount tickets.
Try by signing up for movie theater email lists or ticket providers to snag savings on tickets or refreshments. While it’s not one of the most cheap date night ideas ever, any savings counts when it comes to buying movie tickets. (I also won’t tell if you sneak in your own candy!)
Also, see if you have a Regal Cinemas in your area. They tend to have cheaper pricing as well.
3. Find amazing happy hour deals to share some appetizers.
Appetizers are great not only because of their price point, but because you don’t have to feel guilty for ordering more than one for the variety. Nachos and wanton tacos? Heck yeah. Often there are discounted drinks during happy hour, so if you’re not too picky, it’s a great way to save as well. Don’t forget to sign up for emails from your favorite restaurants to grab additional discounts if you stay for dinner. Check out my list of the best cheap places to eat to learn how to save even more!
4. Find a local arcade and have a skeeball challenge.
Everyone knows the best game at an arcade is skeeball, and you can go pretty far on $5. Challenge your date to a skeeball competition to find out how fierce their trash talk is, and if they can live up to the hype. And who knows? Maybe this cheap date night idea will pay off and you’ll even win a prize!
5. Find a coffee shop with a music night.
There’s a reason why coffeeshops can be a great first date place. They’re comfortable, coffee’s cheaper than dinner, and you can part after a drink if there’s a lack of compatibility.
Whether you go just for coffee or stay to enjoy some music, meeting at a coffeeshop is a great cheap date night idea.
6. Visit a farmer’s market or flea market.
Free samples, interesting folks, fresh veggies. What’s not to love? It’s a great cheap first date idea since you’ll find out where they stand on cilantro and if you should persue a second date. 😉
7. Find local community events like food truck events or local festivals.
Again, it can be a cheap way to try new things that will help you learn about your date’s interests, not to mention, trying new foods. Check out your city’s events websites to see what’s happening this weekend.
8. Volunteer together.
Volunteering is a great first date idea – it sets a great impression and you’re helping out others. Everybody wins! Help out at the local animal shelter, a 5k, a soup kitchen, or at the food pantry for a free activity to connect with your date.
9. Grab cheap tickets to a local sports team.
Local or farm team sports events are always really cheap and some much fun. The food is inexpensive too, so if your date loves sports, it’s a great way to see some games without paying a lot.
10. Hit the park.
Parks have so many great events that make the best first date ideas. You can have a picnic, see a free movie in the park, or attend a free concert. There’s also a lot of educational and seasonal activities as well that make for some great ideas for dates. Check out your local park system’s website for events and activites.
11. Go on a double date.
Feeling nervous about a first date? Double dates can be fun and help keep the conversation going. Take a scenic drive, explore your own city on foot, or visit the driving range to make it a fun date night.
Cheap Date Ideas at Home
Not sure what to do on a date when you’re broke? These stay at home date ideas for couples are perfect for some rest and recovery. It’s about spending time together, not about spending mone – and, they’re the perfect cheap date ideas during COVID!
1. Cook a nice meal together.
A nice surf and turf dinner doesn’t need to break the bank. If you can work the cost of the ingredients to your weekly grocery budget, that’s a double win. It’s also the perfect time to taste test a new recipe or learn to cook a new dish together that you’ve been wanting to try. Just make sure you have a frozen pizza in the freezer if things don’t work out! 😉
2. Go with the old standby: Netflix and chill.
Plenty of romantic date night ideas at home start with Netflix. Horror movies are a great excuse to curl up with your popcorn and partner. Need I say more?
3. Have a book club night.
Find a book you’re both interested in, and have book club nights to discuss them as you read them. Break out some cheese and Three Buck Chuck, and you’ve got not only a relaxing and cheap date night idea, but some intellectual stimulation as well.
4. Watch the sunset together.
Sit on the porch with wine or go find a primo spot on the apartment rooftop to view the spectacular colors of the sunset. It’s the perfect way to relax and peacefully enjoy each other’s company.
5. Participate in your partner’s hobbies.
Partake in your spouse’s favorite hobby, especially if they already have all the tools so you don’t have to spend more money. It’s a great way to learn more about what interests they have while spending time together. Rotate so that the next time they participate in one of your hobbies that you’d love to share with them.
6. Just talk.
Groundbreaking, I know. But shut off those electronic distractions and spend time talking about your dreams, fears, anything. We are lacking connection lately with all of the daily distractions we have in our lives, and this is truly a great way to reconnect.
7. Find a new podcast to binge together.
Love true crime? Financial advice? Conspiracy theories? Find some new podcasts to binge while you make dinner, eat or relax together by the fire.
Click here to see more fun and frugal at home date night ideas!
What can Couples do for Fun without Money?
Start by Saving Money on Babysitting
Before I get into my favorite cheap date night ideas for married couples, let’s talk the cost of babysitters. Ouch. I get it – we all want generally well-adjusted, honest, good-in-an-emergency folks watching our kids. (Preferrably one that won’t drink our vodka and refill the bottle with water, eh?)
So while I don’t necessarily recommend cheaping out on who you pay to babysit your kids, there are ways to save money on babysitters. Some of my favorite are:
- Swap babysitting with a friend or neighborhood folks. You watch all the kids one night, and then they take all the kids in return another night. Free babysitting, since you know you’ll be home with yours anyway – what’s a couple more kids to the mix?
- Cash in your chips with Grandma. Or Grandpa, auntie or any other family member willing to help you out. Don’t forget to bring them home some dessert as a thank you, or you’ll burn that bridge mighty quick.
- Utilize “Parents Night Out” with your daycare, church or other local community centers. Our daycare does this and I love it. The kids are already friendly with the teachers, I know the teachers are trained in CPR, and it’s cheaper than having a babysitter come to your house.
Now that we have some cheap babysitting alternatives figured out, let’s get to the cheap date night ideas. I like to think just about any activity can be a cheap date night idea for married couples when you add wine or beer, amiright?
1. Do something you loved to do when you first met – before kids.
Maybe you liked to listen to music and dance through the house, or do shots while cooking stirfry. Maybe you liked to hang out in coffeeshops, or hit art galleries. Use your date night to remind yourselves of what you used to do before having kids.
2. Have a budgeting date night! (Just kidding. Kinda.)
My husband and I can barely have a conversation without being interrupted, much less plan out a budget for the following month. It doesn’t have to be super intense or take all night – just grab a beer and a half an hour to review upcoming expenses and discuss if any specific budget items need reviewed.
3. Daydream together and research your next vacation.
We love to use this time to talk about what our next trip is going to be. Again, it’s kinda hard to have an in-depth discussion with our kids around, but this cheap date night idea is perfect for connecting and dreaming together. Not only do we get to talk through places on our bucket list, but we have something to easily connect over that’s fun and brings out our adventerous side.
We also use this time to research how to cut travel costs and get where we want to cheaply. Check out 35 Stupid-Simple Ways to Travel on a Budget for planning your next trip.
4. Work out together.
It’s hard to find time to work out, and it’s a great way to spend time together. Not only are you getting one-on-one time, you’re becoming healthier and taking care of yourselves as well.
5. Trade massages, pedicures, or foot rubs.
I love a good spa night – it’s an easy way to take care of yourself and your spouse while you relax. Take turns trading massages, pedicures, or hop in a bubble bath with a glass of wine to unwind for a romantic date night at home.
6. Go on a bike ride, hike or walk.
If you want cheap date ideas near you, nothing’s closer or easier than going on a bike ride, hike or walk. Go on one through your neighborhood, at the local park, or find a trail in your hometown. If you don’t already own bikes, you can find companies that have rental bikes pretty cheap.
7. Have a cheap date night planning challenge.
Challenge each other to plan cheap date night ideas for under $25 (or $50 or $10 – you decide). See which of you can plan the most inexpesnive date night idea and who can plan the best cheap romantic date night idea. The winner gets bragging rights to being the best planner.
8. Stroll through a new section of town and window shop.
We have many neat and interesting sections of our city with lots of art, unique shops, and restaurants. We don’t get out often to visit these spots with the kids in tow, so a date night is the perfect time to do so. Grab an ice cream and take a leisurely stroll through while window shopping and exploring these new parts of town.
9. Find a trivia night at a local bar.
This could get expensive if you have a lot of drinks, but if you can limit it to one or two drinks, trivia night can be a fun way to get out of the house without spending a lot. There are trivia nights for a lot of crazy topics – everything from general trivia to super specific ones, like Harry Potter. Find one you’ll both love and test your knowledge!
10. Go for a drive and talk.
While it’s beautiful to go for a drive in the fall, it can be fun during the other seasons as well. Especially as the weather starts to warm up, there’s nothing like hopping in the car with no destination and cranking up some great music.
Or, even better – plan a day trip to something local and cheap that’s within a couple of hours. It’s a great opportunity to talk abou topics that aren’t work, kids or family. Reconnecting over your love of music or over a quick road trip can be a lot of fun.
11. Play a game of horse.
Grab the basketball you have lying around and challenge your partner to a game of horse, one-on-one, around the world, or any variation. Loser buys ice cream afterwards!
12. Set up a scavenger hunt.
I love the idea of doing a scavenger hunt! It’d be so fun to run around the city to different locations where you first met, kissed, etc. It’s a great way to relive the fun and fabulous moments that make your relationship special.
13. Take a walk down memory lane.
Open a bottle of wine and revisit the old days with love letters and old photos that you’ve kept. Bonus points if you pair with a nice dinner. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, and you can have fun reliving your glory days from high school (or college, or whenever!) in your living room.
14. Take a bubble bath together.
Bubble baths are a great option and one of my favorite cheap date ideas. It’s easy, it’s relaxing, and it can be paired with a movie night and a nice dinner in.
Indoor date ideas for couples
If it’s too cold or too hot (or too humid, or…just too outsidey for you) there’s always tons of fun, unique (and dare I say – possibly educational?) cheap indoor date ideas.
Some of the previous inexpensive date night ideas listed above can apply to this category, but I saved some cheap date night ideas for winter (or when it’s too hot – either way, extreme weather/temps). These are the best indoor date ideas:
1. Play games.
Whether it’s a board game, video game, poker or Twister, playing games is the ultimate cheap night in. Hit the local thrift store and grab some of your favorite board games. Challenge your partner to a competition and see who can buy up all the property on Boardwalk first to win bragging rights til the next game night.
2. Go to a book reading or signing.
Watch for your favorite authors to do book signings in your area, and attend a reading/signing. Between bookstores and your local library, there are lots of unique events that you can attend for free. And you might actually get to meet an author you love in the process!
3. Find free/cheap museum days.
This one takes a little bit of research but will save you some big money if you can find cheap or free passes to your local museums of choice. Some ways to score free or discounted tickets include: using your military ID, attending on free days, Seeing if your local library has passes you can have, and using your Bank of America card. Every year, Bank of America has a free pass day to certain museum on a specific weekend. If you already have the credit card, it’s worth persuing to see if any of the opportunities peak your interest.
4. Go on a free tour.
I love taking tours of distilleries, wineries, chocolate factories, and more. It’s also so intriguing to see how things are made and to learn about the process. Luckily, many companies give free tours of their facilities, complete with samples. Check out what companies in and around your city provide free tours and learn something new while getting some free samples. Now, if anyone knows of a cheese factory next to a winery, I’d be happy to hear about it!
5. Find discounts for local art studios and try your hand at pottery, painting, or photography.
Again, Groupon to the rescue! I love checking Groupon for fun, creative activities. It’s the perfect opportunity for a spontaneous and unique date. In our area, we often have creative activity offers for paint studios where you bring your own wine, music classes, and more. It’s an easy way to try out a new hobby without committing to see if it lives up the hype before you and your partner fully commit.
6. Take a community education class together.
Our local community college in Pittsburgh had the best education classes – everything from yoga to wine tasting. They had something for everyone, and while not every class isn’t super romantic (estate planning, anyone?), there were still a lot that could be a great opportunity to connect on a weekly basis with your partner.
There’s nothing like bonding over learning a new skill while exploring cheap date night ideas. Keep your connect strong by picking up a new hobby through the inexpensive classes at the college. If you find out you don’t like it all that much, they’re generally only about 8 weeks long so it’s not a huge loss of time or money. And who knows, you might find out you both really love to cook Indian food or really want to get your motorcycle licenses.
7. Study at the library together.
Assuming you’re both in school, and find that kind of thing fun (no judgement, my friends), studying at the library can be a good way to spend quality time together. Or, grab a coffee and just go to browse and wander the stacks together at a local bookstore.
Creative / DIY date night Ideas
There’s just something about learning a new skill or working on a project that can really be a great way to spend time together. There’s always that amazing sense of achievement and pride after your done that makes it worthwhile. Plus, you learn to work better together, and you find out what buttons trigger your partner. 😉
I’m fanscinated by the idea of geocaching but haven’t had the time to try it out yet. Geocaching involves using a GPS or your phone and other navigational techniques to essentially find buried treasure. These caches can be found at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world. Sounds awesome, right? Not to mention a great way to exercise, spend time together, and act like a pirate searching for gold.
2. Learn something new.
Learn how to do something you’ve both always wanted to – how to cook a steak, bake bread, or change the oil in the car. Teaching each other new things can be fun, not to mention really useful. Or, learn something brand new to both of you by watching videos on YouTube or taking a class.
3. Do the (side) hustle.
Pick up a side hustle you can do together. Sounds crazy, I know – but it’s a way to spend time together and earn money. It’s definitely a win-win! Try your hand at any of the great side hustles here to spend time together while earning cash to pay off debt. Not only is it a free cheap date night idea, but you’re making money as well!
4. Window shop at your favorite home improvement store.
Browse your favorite home improvement store or website together to daydream about DIY updates. Follow it up estimating costs, budgeting it out, and with binging some HGTV.
5. Visit your local botanical gardens for landscaping inspiration.
Conservatories often have special events where you can buy plants. Even if you don’t hit one of these sales, they’re a great way to go and look around for landscaping inspiration. Our conservatory gives discounts with AAA memberships, military IDs, college IDs, and even has the first Sunday of every month free for residents of Franklin County. Check out your local conservatory to see how to get discounted tickets.
6. Find local farms to go pick fruit in the spring or summer.
While this isn’t a ton cheaper than grabbing them at the grocery, it is a fun way to get out and do something different. Purchasing the fruit you pick on the farm is cheaper than purchased fruit they’ve already picked. Plus, you can make pies, desserts or jelly together afterwards wth your pickings.
7. Do actual DIY.
I might be weird, but I love doing DIY. My husband, not so much – but probably because he works at a home improvement store and stares at this type of stuff all day. I ask to do a project for Mother’s Day or birthdays, instead of a present. I know that’s super weird, but it’s something I really love because I love figuring stuff out, and it’s a fun way to work together on something. Plus, you get something really cool when you’re done, like new floors or a sweet new desk!
Late Night Fun Date Ideas
These ideas are great for dates at night – and also work for when you’re looking for free or cheap date ideas near you.
1. Go stargazing at an astronomy park.
We have an astronomy state park that’s about an hour and a half away that just opened. They offer events on Friday and Saturday nights during the summer. Even better, the events are free and you don’t need to rent a telescope. Checking out a meteor shower or a special stellar event is a really unique and one of the best romantics date night ideas ever!
Find a great cheap diner that’s open late.
Review this list of cheap eats and find a unique and fun cheap diner for some late night disco fries. People watching is best done late at night with some greasy diner food.
Go on a ghost tour.
Many of the cities we’ve lived in or visited run ghost tours. Even if you’re not big into the paranormal, it can be a really interesting and fun way to learn more about the history of the city. Some local haunts even include overnight excursions for the truly devote ghosthunters. Make sure to check Groupon for discounted tickets for a ghoulishly fun night date.
Try your hand at night photography.
Spark your creativity and give night photography a try. One of you can man the camera on a slow exposure while the other uses glow sticks, sparklers or lights of any kind to produce so funky photography. Or, grab a tripod and find a spot with low light pollution to see if you can grab a beautiful photo of the city skyline or stars.
Relive your (no so long ago) youth by hitting a local pizza joint or dive bar.
We all like to relive our glory days and youth from time to time, right? Not to mention, the best (and probably only good time) to really hit a dive bar is late at night after some drinks (for even more drinks). Hang out for a bit, sing or listen to some karoke, and follow it up with a late night visit to a college pizza joint that’s open late. Just don’t forget the Tums. 😉
Attend a midnight movie showing.
Depending on what types of movies you’re into, you can find some pretty amazing midnight movie showings in your city. While Rocky Horror Picture Show is the most obvious choice, there are lots of other options out there both new and old and can be a great idea with your boyfriend/girlfriend.
Find a drive-in.
Drive-ins might not be as common as they were before, but there’s still plenty around. They’re generally open in the late spring and throughout the summer, which means movies don’t start until after 8:30 or so. Plus, they often have double features, so the price per movie per person is much cheaper than visiting the theater. Pack your own snacks, drinks, blankets and lawn chairs if you feel like sitting outside of your car. This is one of my favorite cheap summer date ideas!
Enjoy the skyline.
Find the perfect spot to view the city lights at night. Bring snacks, coffee, and a blanket and enjoy some time to just relax and talk.
Test our your karaoke skills.
If you’re brave enough, karoke can be a great late night date option. Whether you’re singing or just watching, it’s a fun way to get out and test those singing skills ouside of the shower.
Set up a fire pit in the backyard.
There is nothing better than enjoying a nice fire with some beers, smores and your partner. It’s a cheap date night idea that’s easy, and you don’t even have to hire a babysitter. Just get the kids to bed, grab a baby monitor, and relax by the fire.
Good ideas for date night don’t have to expensive, or require a ton of work. Bookmark this cheap date night ideas list to keep for later. Enjoy!
Looking for more cheap date night ideas? Try 50 free things to do on a no-spend weekend or 75 (mostly) free things to do with kids this weekend! Let me know which ones are your favorite in the comments, and any other cheap date ideas that you love!