Saturday, 16 October 2010

Simple Green & Frugal Dating/Date Night

By: Notes From The Frugal Trenches

Who says a good date isn't apple picking?

I am very blessed to have friends from a variety of different backgrounds, who live in a variety of different ways. Recently the topic of money & dating/date night (for partners/married couples) came up over dinner and it was interesting to see what the priorities and ideas were about what constituted quality time together and how much people felt that would cost! On the one hand, I have friends who are just preparing to marry and have (in all these months) spent a grand total of $6 on dating - going out for 2 frozen yogurts. The rest of their dates have involved home cooked meals with family and friends or walks in the park. They have decided to forgo eating out, flowers, gifts, movie or theatre tickets or anything which costs money. On the other hand other friends shared that for them date night costs at least $100 + by the time they've paid for dinner, two movie tickets, a large popcorn and 2 drinks. Other friends shared their dates cost upward of $500 a month because they like to do something to really relax like go to the theatre or get a massage. The consensus was that dating and romance is expensive!

Like most things in life I'm both somewhere in the middle and I do like dating to reflect my simple, green & frugal values! I don't think you have to be as extreme as never spending money (unless you want to!), but I also think most people don't realize that you don't need to spend money to have a good date or a good night out.

Here are some ideas:

Long country or seaside walks - it's quite easy to find out about good walks in your area on your local government website or via a guide book at the library. Pack a picnic and you have almost a whole days entertainment!

Coffee and dessert - this is generally cheaper than having a meal out and you can still choose a coffee house or restaurant with a nice atmosphere!

Last minute tickets - Many theatres and concert halls sell off their available tickets for the matinee or evening performance that day for a fraction of the cost of a regular ticket bought in advance! I know in London, England I can usually get theatre tickets for 25% of the cost by buying the morning of the performance! Obviously seating can be more restricted!

Make date night a "different" night - My local cinema offers dinner & a movie for $15 on a Wednesday and my local movie theatre has a movie for $5 (instead of $12) on a Tuesday. It may not be Friday or Saturday night, but for the budget conscious it works!

Volunteering together - Whether you work on a conservation project like planting trees or counting wild animals, there are plenty of things you can do together that are unique, simple, green & frugal!

Making something for each other or doing something for each other - It can be as simple as making a meal, giving each other neck massages or knitting slippers or socks for each other!

Using airmiles and reward points for more expensive options - This is a great way to afford a more elaborate meal out, cinema tickets, rental cars, hotels, spa days or travel. Saving them up for Anniversaries and Birthdays can be an extra special way to treat the other person!

Make use of things that are free - Many museums and art galleries offer free admissions or at least free admission one evening a week. Add to that festivals, city fairs, book readings, concerts in the park and farm open days and pretty soon you have many new options that are budget friendly!

Do something unique - a local community centre and vintage theatre offer an evening once each week with a variety of local musicians who want to perform, there is no cost for admittance, they simply ask you buy one drink. The atmosphere is stunning (the building is over 100 years old) and the lighting and acoustics are beautiful. For the cost of $8 for two drinks, it is a wonderfully romantic night out! Other unique ideas include visiting animal sanctuaries (my local one is free, another one a bit further out is $4) or going apple, blueberry or strawberry picking! There are so many ways to enjoy some quiet and fun time together when you think outside the box!

I think the key is variety, maybe once a month you do something with a higher budget like dinner out and the other times you stick to low cost romance like walks, coffee out or volunteering. I've learned that being frugal doesn't mean no romance and it is pretty easy to transport your simple, green and frugal lifestyle to all areas of your life!

I'd love to hear from you! Do you have any simple, green and frugal ideas? Do you budget each month for dating and romance?


Paula said...

Friday night is date night, I guess. We borrow a movie from the library and snuggle on the couch. I guess it helps that we're childless, though, and happy being homebodies.

Maybe three or four times a year we do dinner and a movie, which is actually a better value than hitting the concession stand at the theater.

Zephyr Hill said...

We finally gave in and got Netflix, and it makes for many cheap evenings on the couch relaxing after a day of work. We don't count that as date night, of course. We don't count chores as dates, either, but I love when we go out in the evening to feed the animals. The demands of the day are over, and we enjoy watching the funny chicks or the antics of our horses and cow.

We have babysat for our grand-daughter almost every Saturday night since she was born almost 2 years ago so her parents can have date night. And we get time with her! On the occasions when we do date night, we usually get dinner at a tiny nearby Mexican restaurant and maybe take in a movie. It's not very green, but it's sure a lot more frugal than when we lived in the town and had lots of great--and pricey--restaurants at our disposal!

ceppal said...

These are all from our pre-child lives. Now we typically do these same things, but with the kiddo, or have "stay in and watch TV and eat popcorn" nights together, or spend a ton of money to get a sitter and go to the theater.

* dumpster diving
* building things
* bike camping/long bike rides w/flower & tree identification books for entertainment
* trivia night at the bar
* ice skating outside
* roller rink indoors

Now our separate social activities are my weekly craft group, and his weekly rock climbing group - moderately green and not very expensive.

Looby said...

We like to go for walks together, we just got an annual membership (less than 1/2 price with groupon) to some gardens nearby because they are really great to walk in, even if the weather isn't fab.
Other than that we do like to go to the movies occasionally, usually with a giftcard, OH seems to get them quite frequently from helping people at work. We usually eat at home before a movie and don't buy snacks so even if we have to pay for the tickets it's not very pricey.
As to your photo we are just back from an apple festival, no picking but plenty of tasting, and eating apple pie, great fun and a good date (even if some of our friends were there too!)

Gabriele Agustini said...

What a fun post!! :)
Thanks for taking the time to write it!

Tree Huggin Momma said...

11.5 years of marriage and 14 years together, NotSoGreen and I used to do expensive date nights. We would go out to dinner and we like nice restaurants, but that got old. We learned how to make our favorite meals at home and we much prefer to stay in, invite friends over for dinner, movies, card games and a bottle of wine. We do enjoy heading out to the park and taking long walks together, or recently (3 years ago now) we both purchased new bikes, and have done some leisurely bike rides. Almost all of the options you suggested also work for kids entertainment to. We have a local dollar theatre (years ago the price really was a dollar) that does $.50 movies on like Wednesday during the day, so when the kids are out of school we might head there.
For the theatre - you can also voulnteer to usher with many programs (same if you live near an arena you can be volunteer staff and get to catch the game for free).