5 Date Night Ideas for Frugal Couples

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Getty ImagesRomance doesn't have to be expensive.
Open up any magazine targeted to women and you'll see article after article telling you that couples should continue to spend time with each other by scheduling regular date nights.

The articles typically say that date night is good for your relationship and helps you focus on each other. This type of language can create a bit of pressure for couples to actually take the advice. Couples might even feel guilty if they don't plan regular date nights, especially if it's because of budget restrictions.

Unfortunately, date night isn't exactly cheap. If couples have children, they have to make reservations and hire a babysitter. Then, they face pressure to make it a great night because they've already spent so much money on it.

So, wouldn't it be nice to take the pressure off? Wouldn't it be great if you could go on a fun but frugal date and have a great time without breaking the bank?

Well, if a frugal but fun date is your idea of a good time, here are some examples of ways to spend time together without paying a ton of money for the privilege:

1. Send the kids to a friend's house. Sometimes people have the right idea when it comes to trading babysitting responsibilities with another group of friends so each couple can go on a date night. However, they overcomplicate things when they decide to bring their kids over to someone's house and then go out on an elaborate date.

Instead, why not stay in your own house and send the kids to a friend's house for a few hours? Your kids can watch a movie, eat pizza, pop some popcorn and have a great time with their friends and you and your significant other can cook a nice meal at home, pop open a bottle of wine, and watch a movie in a quiet house without any waking up and coming out of their rooms to ask for a bottle of water.

This eliminates the need for an expensive babysitter and as well as the need to spend a lot of money on a meal out. You still get to spend time together sans kids, and you're in the comfort of your own home so there's no need to get all dressed up. It's casual but fun.

2. Picnic in the park. One of my favorite dates to plan with my husband is have a picnic in a park. Somehow, in the last 10 years, we've associated picnics with buying fried chicken at a fast food restaurant. We rarely eat fast food, so it's always this random treat. It's inexpensive at about $12 for a few pieces of chicken and biscuits, and free to grab a picnic blanket out of the linen closet.

On a beautiful day, it's a sweet and simple way to spend time together. You can even bring the book you're reading or a magazine and quietly sit and read together (if that's your jam).

3. Museum date. Most museums have discount days or coupons where you can go at a certain time to get a better ticket price or go on a certain day. Still, even if you have to pay full price, most museum admissions are no more than $15 per adult. The trick is not to eat at the pricey museum café but instead bring a few snacks or sandwiches with you. Stroll around the museum with the one you love, learn something new, and enjoy. It's actually far cheaper than going to a movie and your money will be going to a good cause: the preservation of important objects or art.

4. Backyard camping. When my husband and I were still dating, we discovered all of his old camping gear in his parents' attic. Since he used to work at a sporting goods store, he had tons of equipment, including a tent, camping stove and sleeping bags.

Instead of booking an extensive camping trip where we had to pack the car, pay a fee and buy tons of food to eat while we camped, we just camped in the backyard.

It was really fun and silly and just something different to do. Best of all, it was completely free, and when we wanted to eat something, we just walked into the house and ate it!

5. Volunteering together. One way to do something different and feel good at the same time is to volunteer together as a date night. You can go together to a dog shelter, clean cages and play with adorable dogs. You can plant a garden at a school. Really, the sky is the limit when it comes to thinking of ways you can give back to your community.

My advice is to think of something your partner and you are both passionate about, something you would enjoy doing together, and then pursue it. That way, you can have a free date and spend time together but feel good about it in the process.

Overall, date night can be anything you want it to be. It doesn't have to be a table for two with a candlelit dinner and a $200 dinner tab to be something special. All you need to do if you're frugal or on a tight budget is think outside the box.

Catherine Alford is a professional public speaker and freelance writer who enjoys speaking and writing about the challenges of motherhood, building creative businesses and making smart financial decisions at BudgetBlonde.com.
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