Cheap date night ideas
For parents on a budget, “couple time” may be a thing of the past. These days, dinner and a movie can run as much as $100. It's no wonder that thrifty parents often eliminate going out as a way of saving money. However, even frugal parents need time alone to nurture their relationship. Here are some tips to have a great night without spending a bundle.
Saving Money on Care for the kids
Sometimes the cost of a babysitter is more than the date itself. A lot of couples are lucky enough to have Grandma nearby to watch the kids… that's great! If you don't have family close by, find another couple with kids the same age as your own children to swap babysitting hours with. Not only will you be getting qualified caregivers, you will be getting playmates for your children as well.
Or, make it a double date! Invite another couple to go out with you, and split the cost of a babysitter you share. Just make sure you make it worth her while… you may have to spend a little bit more overall, but it still would be less than what you'd normally pay!
Saving Money by Making Dinner at home
My husband and I both like to eat. Luckily, we also both like to cook. One of our favorite things to do is to pick a new recipe to prepare together. Sometimes my husband is in charge of the main course, and I prepare the side dishes. Cooking together serves two purposes — the most obvious being to create a great meal, but it also allows us to spend time doing something together.
Even if you're not too savvy in the kitchen, you can still cook a gourmet meal. Services like Blue Apron will ship dinners for two straight to your doorstep. Instructions are pretty straightforward, and the meals I've had have been outstanding. They may cost more than your own home-cooked meals, but they definitely cost less than something you'd order in a restaurant, plus it gives you something to actually do together.
Saving on Eating Out
If eating out is more up your alley, order one entree to share — then splurge on a dessert. Also, check into which restaurants in your area run Happy Hour specials. These specials may be ½ price appetizers, free munchies, or drink discounts. Other resources:
- Pay attention to coupon books that kids sell as fundraisers for their schools, clubs and sports teams. We have a local card known as the “Scarlet Saver Card” (our high school mascot) that offers discounts to a lot of local restaurants.
- Sometimes sites like Groupon.com and LivingSocial will offer deals on restaurants too – search for local establishments on their site.
- Look for discounted restaurant gift cards at Warehouse giants like Costco and Sam's Club
- Around the holidays, some restaurants will offer their gift cards at a discount or offer a freebie with purchase. When these deals roll around, keep your future date nights in mind!
Saving Money on Movies and Theater
With the popularity of Hulu, Netflix and amazon prime, theater attendance is definitely trending downward. However, it's often a great break from routine to actually go to a theater to see a movie. There are no outside distractions, no interruptions. You can really immerse yourself in the experience of watching the movie. Here are some ways to also SAVE on that experience:
- Instead of an evening flick, catch a late-afternoon matinee, which often costs quite a bit less. Then, plan your dinner out for after the movie.
- Download the Yelp app. Often, you can earn discounts by “checking in” to that location on your smartphone.
- MoviePass is an interesting concept. Sign up online, and get a card within two weeks. Pay $9.99 a month for three movies. Download the MoviePass app to see which movies are available near you. Check in on the app, then use your MoviePass card to purchase your movie ticket. 91% of theaters in the US participate, so there's a good chance there's one near you.
- If you're lucky, your city may have a movie theater that offers discounted tickets on movies that have been out in widespread release for quite some time, but aren't yet on DVD. Sometimes these places cost half of what a first-run movie theater would cost, and refreshments are sometimes discounted as well.
- Want to take a drive? If you live within a short drive of a rural town with a movie theater, those prices (and the prices of concessions) are quite a bit less than in the city.
- Check out deals on first-run movies at Fandango.com. – a site that lets you get your tickets before you get to arrive at the box office.
- Some theaters like Regal Cinemas and AMC offer loyalty programs whereby you earn points for the movies you see. Then, those points can be used to purchase discount movie tickets and concessions. A great deal for those who go to more than one movie a month. Check out the Regal Crown Club and the AMC Stubs Program.
- Don't go to the theater hungry if you don't want to spend money on concessions. Have something filling before you go to avoid temptation.
Saving Money on Sporting Events and Concerts
- Stubhub.com has become the great marketplace price-equalizer. If you're not picky about what you see or attend, you can often get some amazing last-minute deals on events in your city from sellers who simply want to unload tickets they can't use.
- Search for Facebook Events under the “Explore” heading to find Free Events in your community…. you'll find so many things to do, from art exhibits, to classes, to free concerts. Search by date and location.
- Often, local bars and restaurants have live music on the weekends… grab a drink and you have a cheap date with free entertainment!
- If you're a AAA member, military, or a student – check out discounts you may have available to you for theme parks, restaurants, or events.