My husband Jeff and I have been married for almost 6 months now.
As newly weds still in university with only part-time jobs, I’m sure you can imagine our tight budget. Still, during our engagement and now as a married couple, we’ve had some of the best dates ever – and they were cheap. Since I’m sure there are a lot of people in similar situations, we wanted to share some of our favourite dates.
1. The Movie Marathon
I will start this section off by saying I know this is not an original or creative idea. With the prevalence of Netflix and other online services, we all have a Blockbuster in our living rooms and everyone suggests this as a cheap date idea. Still, the movie marathon date can be a lot of fun. Here are a few things we’ve thought of to make the movie marathon a bit more interesting.
-Actually go out and “rent” a movie. I know movie rental places are hard to find (and where I live, they literally do not exist anymore) BUT, guess what? Libraries rent movies! FOR FREE! So instead of scrolling through Netflix for hours because you can’t decide on a movie, get off your couch and pace the aisles of your nearest library and rent a movie the old fashion way! Make sure you both promise each other that no matter how bad the movie is, you will watch the entire thing and won’t switch to Netflix till the end credits roll.
-Become movie reviewers. Watch three movies in a row. At the end of each film, write a short, thought out review and read it to your partner. Because I love writing, this option definitely appeals to me.
-Watch your movies from inside a FORT! I don’t mean those lame kind of forts we built when we were kids with a broomstick in the middle holding up your mom’s old raggedy sheets. Plan out your fort. Blueprint it if you have to. Make the fort building process a date of its own.
So, there you have it. If you’re creative (or are tech savvy enough to Google “how to make movie marathon dates more fun), you too can have a relaxing and fun afternoon of a borderline cliché cheap date.
2. The Short Story Date
Now, this is an awesome date Jeff came up with last year, and it is my all time favourite. There are two versions of this date. I’ll tell you the more expensive version first.
Version A: Go to the dollar store. Split up. Purchase 10 random items. They can be literally anything. Don’t look at the other person’s objects as you shop. Hide items in separate bags. Drive to Starbucks (or another coffee shop of your choosing). Buy overpriced drinks. Sit down. Swap bags. Look at objects. Now that your 10 objects have been revealed, write a short story in cute little journals that contains all 10 of those objects. Give yourselves 10-20 minutes (or however long you feel like you’d need), and then read your story aloud to your partner. Find use for your new weird items later on.
Version B: Go to a coffee shop. Buy drinks. Open journals. Access the internet on your phone or laptop. Open up an online random word generator. Pick 10 words for your partner. Write them down. Have your partner pick 10 words for you. Write a short story including all 10 of those words in your cute little journal.
** Note: to make this more interesting, create rules. Jeff and I have had rules like “The 10 words cannot be mentioned in the story’s dialogue” (Because then it makes it easy to write something like: “A crazy man came up to me and started rambling about volcanoes and Brussels sprouts and cheese graters! It was so weird!”
3. The Video Game Binge
Jeff and I both love video games (though our taste usually differs). This date idea also has a few others, depending on your budget.
Obviously, the cheapest way to do this is just play video games you already have. Set aside a few hours. Set aside a few games. You have three hours? You have three games? Each game gets one hour gameplay. Or, you have four hours? You have one game? Binge that game to death. If possible, try to play a team game to ensure competitive spirits don’t get too high (I speak from experience).
Another fun way to do this, though it’s more expensive, is to go to a flea market or a used video game store and find a few cheap games you’ve never played (or maybe a few that you’ve never even heard of). Make sure you set aside a budget ahead of time so you’re not like “WOAH! AN UNOPENED COPY OF DONKEY KONG FOR N64! AND IT’S ONLY 400 BUCKS! WHAT A STEAL!” (Even if that was a steal, should you really be spending 400 bucks on a video game if you’re reading this post?) Anyway, purchase a few video games, go home and try them. promise to continue playing for X amount of time, no matter how hard/annoying/lame/boring it is.
4. The Tourist Date
I didn’t come up with this idea. I remember reading about it somewhere online a few years ago, and I loved the idea. Become a tourist in your own home town/city/hamlet/whatever. If you’re artsy (Jeff did this for me once), make yourself a map of all the destinations you want to visit in the day. Go to parks, go downtown, go to new shops and new café and used bookstores and old buildings.
Make sure you bring along a camera. No, not your phone. An actual camera, whether it be digital or disposable or whatever. At the end of the day, go to Walmart and buy a cheap photo album. Develop your pictures on the spot and there you have it! A brand new photo album filled with your latest adventures turned memories.
5. The “Knowledge” Date
Museums and art galleries are usually inexpensive. I just checked out the admission prices of the art galleries in my area. For the BIG one downtown, the student pricing is $11.00 (and $19.50 for regular adult). For the smaller one outside the city, it varies between $12.00-$15.00 depending on the day of the week. That’s pretty cheap. If you go slowly through an art gallery, you can be there for hours. If you pack yourself a lunch, the only thing you have to pay for is admission. Museums, in my experience, tend to be a bit more expensive. Still, smaller museums are sometimes free.
If you don’t want to spend any money, go tour a university campus. Or multiple university campuses. Campuses are usually well put together and have interesting buildings and architecture. Go visit the library, bring a book, and read for a few hours. Pack a lunch and have a picnic under a weeping willow as you laugh at all the students who have to go to class (just kidding).
6. The Pinterest Date
This one might make your husband/fiancé/boyfriend cringe. It might make you cringe. But I think it’s fun in a silly, let’s-not-take-this-too-seriously kind of way.
Go on Pinterest. Make a board (that’s what it’s called, right?) and ‘pin’ 3-5 things to do. Not just any random things though. Pin those like, easy DIY crafts or recipes. Spend the rest of your day trying those things out. They may turn out awesome, but I think it’s more likely they will turn out…average at best. Which can be a hilarious story for the future (or for later that day).
So there you have it. Here are six date ideas that this tight budgeted couple approves of. We hope you’ve found this list helpful, or at the very least, made you realize you need to get a job because you think all these ideas are lame.