Tightwad Tuesday: Frugal Date Ideas

Jim and I at our wedding 13 years ago.

It’s my anniversary today. My husband and I have been married for 13 years. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. I guess time does fly when you’re having fun. 13 years, 4 moves, 2 kids, and countless goldfish later, and I wouldn’t change a thing!

In the spirit of anniversaries, love, and marriage, I’d like to give you some frugal date ideas today. Just because you don’t have a lot of money to spend, doesn’t mean you can’t have nice dates frequently!

Take a Walk

My husband and I love to take walks. Before our first child was born, we’d frequently walk through our neighborhood together. When our children were little, we’d put them in the stroller and walk. Now that they’re older, they ride their scooters ahead of us while we walk.

I love taking walks, because it’s a time to talk and connect with my husband. If we’re trying to have a conversation at home, we’re often interrupted by children, the phone, or any number of other distractions. While we’re walking, the kids are there, but they’re busy doing other things. And my husband and I have uninterrupted time to talk about our hopes and dreams.

Watch a Movie…at Home

Put the kids to bed, pop some popcorn, cuddle up on the couch, and watch a movie. My husband and I like to rent old movies that we watched while we were dating. It’s appropriate. Our first date was going to see the movie The Flintstones. Corny, but 13 years later, we’re still going strong.

Make a Fancy Dinner…After the Kids are In Bed

Remember when you were dating? You cooked him a fabulous dinner at your apartment. That doesn’t have to stop once the kids arrive. Feed them, put them to bed, and bring out the fancy dinner. Pop open a bottle of wine (or sparkling cider), and dine by candlelight.

Read a Book Together

We started this in premarital counseling. Our pastor gave us reading assignments, and we would sit in my apartment, taking turns reading to each other. It’s a great activity for cold winter nights. Just make sure both of you are interested in the subject matter.

Play a Board Game

My husband and I used to do this a lot. I think he might have grown tired of my super competitive nature. Oops.

Still, we’ve spent many fun evenings playing Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit (he beats me every time), and Yahtzee. For even more fun, invite another couple over and make it a double date. Sometimes it’s good to just hang out with other couples.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. You don’t need a babysitter. The important thing is just that you spend time focusing on having fun together. Don’t let money become an excuse to let your marriage grow stale.

Do you have any frugal date ideas? I’d love to hear them!


By , on Jun 17, 2008
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Yeah for Scrabble! My wife and I love to play board games. Although we haven’t played as often lately with three young kids. :-0

  2. Marci:

    oh! I Luv the pennies idea!!!

  3. Rusty:

    My favorite- take 100 pennies, 50 for you, 50 for your date. Go to a fountain, and make wishes out loud, alternating between the two of you. If you can do it in the quiet, perhaps at night, all the better. It is sweet, romantic, and you get to know something about the other, and about yourself. The first 10 wishes or so were pretty obvious things, but after that you have to stretch more to get at that deeper level. I (and my now wife) highly recommend.

  4. Oh! I love the picture! You were a beautiful bride!
    And Happy Anniversary!!! Congratulations on 13 years of marriage, and may God bless you and your husband in the years to come! :)

    I love all the date ideas. Sometimes it’s more fun to do the things that cost next to nothing.

  5. Agree about picnics in the park – you can just get fast food & eat it there! – Also walks in greenery – We go to the municipal golf course and putt and go to the driving range. And we are attending a free music workshop tonight sponsored by L.A. – There is also the Hollywood Bowl here –
    Fabulous in expensive classical concerts during the weekin the summer. – You can also find movie screenings gratis (I think it’s filmmetro.com) And any time we spend on out boat is heaven. But we enjoy each other’s company so much that when we go back to work we miss each other!

  6. Kate:

    What about having a picnic in the local park, thats how i used to spend many dates with my boyfriend when we were first going out. We didn’t have much money but i will remember those dates for the rest of my life. They were simple and fun and just spending that much time togeather without other distractions gave us a very strong bond with each other that has survived to this daye 20 years later. :)

  7. A very happy anniversary! We are almost ten years ahead of you. Like Willow said, it gets better.


  8. PT:

    Cool to hear about your story, Lynnae. Great ideas as well. I agree on the walk thing…works for us. I like the book idea as well…seems fun.

  9. Well, my fiance and I first met when I was giving him and a friend crash space at the request of another friend.

    One of our favorite dates is to dress up and go dancing…in our own home.

    Sadly, now that we are living in different states, we both miss that, but we have our ways….

    Since he is a musician, and I used to be a roadie, we both know a good deal about long distance relationships.

    We make dates to sit on the phone with each other, each of us watching the same thing and discussing it; we make other dates to talk about things we need to discuss towards our goals and dreams, and we make dates to plan when one of us can visit the other, so we don’t go too crazy. (We each pay for the early version of unlimited nights and weekends on our cell phones, or this would be impossible.)

    When we are in the same physical space, we love to take long walks, to go to museums on the free or “pay what you wish” nights, to work on projects together, and to cook together to make romantic dinners.

    I know most of that is pretty prosaic, but it’s what makes our boat float.

  10. Happy Anniversary! Our favorite frugal date is to watch movies or our favorite shows together after our sonny boy is in bed. We are big movie buffs but once we decided to be more frugal, we had to give up on our favorite past time: the movie theater. Once we let it go, it seemed like the movies we wanted to see would be out to rent within record time so we weren’t really missing anything except giving 20 dollars away to the cineplex lol.

  11. Marci:

    Just dating still… but we enjoy going to the grocery store together on a late Saturday evening – just people watching and chatting while we are there. And we make the 2 hr round trip for out of town discount groceries into an occassion also – with a stop at the ocean overlooks or a walk on the beach, and a quick lunch or light dinner. We also enjoy going to plant nurseries together in the spring. And going for long walks with the dog along the river and thru the woods. And making a date to watch a movie at home – turning off the phones first! I just like the time together – what we do is not that important :)

  12. Bonnie:

    Congratulations, and wishing you many more.

    My husband and I like to do all those things too. We also like to to watch the sunset together. Do yoga together. And believe it or not, we actually make cleaning the house dates. But we have found that anytime we can be together, without our child, or work responsibilities can be a date. For instance we needed a new coffee table recently, so we called it a coffee table shopping date. We held hands, sat on couches at the store and talked about interesting articles we had read recently, and then shared an ice cream cone. It only took about 1 hour longer than the shopping would ordinarily take, but it was a great date.

  13. FFB:

    Congrats on your anniversary!

  14. Happy anniversary to you both!

  15. Happy Anniversary!!!
    My husband and I play cards sometimes and it is fun.We also ride bikes together and it feels so refreshing to feel the cool wind together.Although reading together doesn’t work for us because of our reading speed mismatch.

  16. Erin:

    Congratulations!! My husband and I enjoy having dates that are simple and inexpensive….free is even better. :)

  17. Happy Anniversary! And thanks for the ideas. My husband and I like to watch movies after the kids are in bed.

  18. Kristen:

    Congratulations on 13 years of marriage! Since I’m about to get married, I really like to hear/see stories of sucessful marriages. It’s inspiring and comforting to know that there are still couples who make it for the distance.

    My fiance and I aren’t much for going out. We would rather stay at home with a bottle of wine and a movie or a game of Scrabble. It’s fun to go out every now and then, but I think relaxing at home is so much better and more affordable.

  19. Foxie:

    Happy anniversary! I’ve got a long ways to go until my husband and I are there, but we’re not doing too bad for our ages I think. :)

    We love taking walks, it’s one of the easiest ways we can connect. So much better talking when neither of you are doing something else too! Unfortunately, we also love going out to eat for the same type of engaging conversation. Lucky for us, it costs us around $30 to eat at our favorite restaurant, so it’s something we can indulge in often. :)

  20. My husband and I like to head to a local park and play tennis. We used to go to sporting events at the local university. When we were students this was often free and even afterwards didn’t cost too much. During the summer, our city has free outdoor movies and concerts. We have yet to take advantage of these, but may in the coming months

  21. Congratulations!
    It funny that I should read your blog today. It just happens to be our 13th anniversary also! Have a great day….

  22. Kathy:

    Picnic dates with a hand made lunch are so wonderful! I also love a lake lunch with a picnic packed. Dating can be creative and fun, not expensive!

  23. Happy anniversary! I enjoyed the date ideas. My wife and I have found that the less we spend on dates the more meaningful they are. I’m lucky – I didn’t marry someone that had to be “wined and dined” to have a good time.

  24. Willow:

    First off, congrats on the anniversary! We’ve got 6 years on you — it just gets better (mostly!).

    We do a movie date afternoon on Sundays. We have radically different body time clocks so trying to do something in the evening wasn’t working for us. It is SO COOL to be able to have 1) clean bathrooms, 2) no lines for tix, 3) FRESH popcorn, etc…. We stretch out on the bed just have a grand old time. And, if the flick is bad, we turn it off and put something else on!

  25. I enjoy the kite/picnic in the park date and have yet to try take an adult ed class together. Both are under $40 (well, depending on if you get a fancy kite or not) and the novelty alone can put you in first date mode. Happy anniversary!

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