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5 Simple Ways to Save on Date Night

Guest post from Alison of Experimental Wifery

My husband and I dated for six years before we got married. We thought we had this relationship thing figured out. But, after only nine months of marriage, things had started to get a little rocky.

My gentle, understanding husband had suddenly become grouchy and irritable. Instead of helping him, all I could think to do was nag him to tell me what was wrong. Because we were saving up for a down payment on a house, we didn’t go out together often.

We worked. We ate. We went to bed.

No wonder our marriage was running into trouble. We barely ever talked to each other!

So we went on a date. He told me how much he hated his job (that’s what was making him grumpy) and we problem solved about how to fix it. For the price of a $20 dinner, we solved a problem months of evening meals together hadn’t. 

Nine months into our marriage, I learned that great conversations — the kind that make or break a happy marriage — don’t just happen. I believe that healthy marriages need regular date nights — weekly, if at all possible.

A date night is a night that you and your husband set aside to spend time alone together. It’s a time to refresh as a couple. It’s a time to reevaluate what’s working for your family. It’s a time to discuss big ideas together. 

But I don’t believe that it is a luxury. I believe that setting aside money every month for a date night is one of the most important things you can do for your marriage.

Still, $20 (or whatever you can budget) doesn’t go far — especially when you throw in the added expense of babysitting. So here are some great ideas to make your date night money stretch a little further:

1. Shorten your dates.

When you have kids and are paying for a babysitter, the longer you’re out, the more expensive the date — no matter what else you’re doing. Try going out for dinner only. Or have dinner at home before you catch a movie.

2. Split the babysitter costs.

Sitters normally charge only $2-3 more for extra kids, so split a sitter with friends. Or check out these great sitter savings ideas.

3. Bring your own dinner.

Look for local restaurants with moderately priced menus. Many restaurants have early-bird or two-for-one specials.

In warmer weather, break out the picnic basket! Visit a local playground or nearby national park for some sandwiches and dessert.

4. Buy discount tickets.

Check out organizations that sell cheap events tickets. Think about events that always have inexpensive tickets — nosebleed seats at a baseball game are a great venue for a little couple’s time.

5. Avoid dinner and a movie out.

My husband and I have found that dinner + a movie + a sitter is just too expensive. Instead, choose a special film (in advance!) and order out. Put the kids to bed and enjoy an evening in.

Money doesn’t buy happiness, but I believe a weekly date night is an important investment in your marriage.

What are your creative ideas and suggestions for having a date night without breaking the bank?

Alison blogs about learning to be a better woman and wife at Experimental Wifery. She’s a wife, mommy, and high school English teacher. She lives near Washington, DC, where walking around the monuments at night is a cheap, date-night favorite.

photo source

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  • I also believe date night is a very important investment! We have neighbors with kids also, so we trade off babysitting for each other. We watch their kids for free so they can go out and then they return the favor the next time. Plus the kids love hanging out together. It’s a win-win for everyone!

  • Jessica says:

    My husband and I do lunch dates together at least once a week. He works overnights and has two weekdays off, so we go during the week while I’m on my 1-hour lunch break from work. Our daughter is already with either my parents or his parents for the day, so no extra babysitting required. And lunches are cheaper than dinners. It might not be as romantic as a dinner date (which we do when we can), but it works really well with our schedules and that makes it easy to make a habit of!

  • Ruthie says:

    My daughter has been growing out of her nap and going to bed most nights before 8 so the upside is lots of quality date nights. I think some of the best date nights are spending time together catching up on some shows on Hulu or making some tea and chatting.

    • B says:

      Your post was very encouraging.

      We do not have the option to get a babysitter, and we have very little help from family. So, a date night is just not possible for us. Your post is a great reminder that we can put the kids to bed and have a date night at home.

      • Rachael says:

        You can definitely have a great date night IN. It’s how we’ve survived the past 3 years since we moved away from family. The kids go to bed between 7 and 7:30, and once a week we have a home-cooked gourmet meal and a glass of wine. We could get a babysitter every now and then if we wanted, but I feel like we’d just be looking at our watch the whole time. We’d both prefer to be home. It’s zero stress.

      • We have two children, 2 1/2 years old and 16 months old. They both go to bed at 8pm. My husband washes the dinner dishes while I bathe the kids, so we’re both free by the time the kids go to bed. We’re both night owls anyway, so this schedule gives us time to talk, watch a movie together, eat some ice cream, pop some popcorn, or share a glass of wine by the fire. We live far away from our parents, and we’re on a tight budget, so this is how we date without needing to pay for a sitter. 🙂

  • Kristine says:

    My hubby and I have had some of our best conversations walking at the park while our kids play. It’s free, keeps the kids entertained, and gives us some quality time together.

    When we are planning to go out for dinner, I look for 2-for-1 deals and coupons for restaurants in our area, or we just go somewhere cheap. Sometimes we go out for just dessert or coffee.

    We are fortunate to live close enough to my in-laws that the kids can stay with them for weekends about once a month, so we rarely have to pay for babysitters.

  • natalie says:

    We have 3 under 5, & have a leave the house, get a sitter date every 3-6 months. Due to being rural, it means 2 or 3 hours of driving, taking kids (and packed jammies, etc) to the grandparents, driving to town, driving back, and taking sleeping kids home & hoping for smooth transfers into their beds. It can’t happen on weeknights because my husband doesn’t get home til 6pm usually so it would be too late of a night for him since he gets up pretty early.

    Since he gets home at 6 or later, we usually eat around 6.30/7, and start bedtime at 8 or 9. This means he is asleep before/when they are, usually. We have had a lot of discussion on whether I should feed them earlier and try an earlier bedtime…but we have decided that it is more important to pour our efforts into making family dinners and family worship a priority.

    BUT, twice a month or more, we’ll stay up far too late & curl up with a movie & big bowl of popcorn. 🙂 I make a point to put movies on hold at the library that we both enjoy.

  • kathleen vasquez says:

    sites like groupon is always a fun idea too. it allows you to do fun things you wouldn’t normally do (because they are now affordable)! scuba diving, rock climbing, horse back riding, etc at more than half off! it allows us to try new fun things and step out of our comfort zones! 🙂

  • Jane says:

    I don’t have children, but I often babysit for free for friends who do, and I know I’m not the only childless person who’d love to spend some time with your kids! I can think of three other single women in their late 20s who also watch friends’ kids occasionally for free– just because we want to bless our friends and because we, who have no children, enjoy the chance to spend some time with someone else’s cute kids!

    If you don’t want/ can’t trade babysitting, see what else you have to offer to a single friend who will watch your children once a month. For me, the chance to sit around a family table is worth it. For others, perhaps your laundry room, or learning a new skill in trade would be an option.

    • Martina says:

      You are a true blessing Jane, my husband and i used to watch Kids to while we were still single ( we now suspecting that people set us up, to ask us both to sit the kids at the same time, of course it was all an accident). Just wished there would be more people out there like you, in today’s society is had to find people who aren’t selfish and are willing to help others.

    • Sarah says:

      I agree Jane. I’m happy to baby-sit if that means there’s a homecooked meal somewhere in it for me. It’s tiring cooking for myself.

    • Mom of Littles says:

      I agree as well. It is a great help to other moms for you to help them in this way. I have sought out even a mother’s helper, and I haven’t been able to find anyone. It can be overwhelming at times to work from home, homeschool, maintain the home, etc all with a husband who works long hours.

    • Jen says:

      My cousin, in her late twenties, babysits for us for free occasionally. It is so wonderful! She always brings her laundry (she lives in an apartment where she pays for laundry), and I always have a home cooked meal ready for her and the children. We so appreciate her! Thank you for doing the same for other couples who need an evening out.

  • Laura says:

    For Christmas this past year I gave my husband a ‘Year’s Worth of Dates.’ It was an idea I found on Pinterest. I planned one date for each month, many of them are things that we have never done (a new restaurant, tickets to a play we’ve never heard of, touring the Governor’s mansion), a few favorites (cheap tickets to a college basketball game), and many are free (a hike in the canyon, bike ride around the neighborhood, local musuem, etc).

    This way we are sure to have a date each month (especially if there are tickets already purchased) and I circle the date on the calendar. Since it counted as a gift, I felt like I could splurge a little here and there. Also, the venue each month is different, so that adds to the excitement.

    We’re five months into this year, and so far it’s been really fun. The hardest part of the whole thing is securing a babysitter, but we usually trade with other couples in the area. I’m already thinking of new things to try for next year! 🙂

  • Book store dates hang out visit ask questions

  • tere says:

    Me and my husband try to have a datenight every week (if we can.) Hes not working so much so not that much money to spend on for “datenight” he works at the movies he cleans up. i work at a waterpark for the summer. So we watch movies for FREE!:) thats ours Datenight for us and we go to the waterpark for FREE since i work there. We only have one son so ours parents take turn watching him for ours datenights. Which helps ALOT! on the babysitting cost. We hardly go out to eat and when we do i always try to find a coupon for us it helps alot.

  • Annie Kate says:

    We don’t do regular date nights, nor do our two sets of parents. I think the key in these three very happy marriages (about 120 years in total) is to make time for each other every day, in the little ways. We hold hands at meals and in the car, inspect our fruit trees together, look at the lawn and the gardens…. I pop into the study for quick chats while I sit on hubby’s lap.

    All this is to say that while date nights might be fun, a good marriage is based on what happens every day. If you can’t manage date nights, don’t worry; you can make every day special…and that goes a lot farther in the long run.

    • Annie Kate says:

      I mentioned this discussion to my husband and he said that it is more important to go to bed than to go out. He said every man will agree with that.

      So ask your husband what he thinks.

      And if your husband agrees with my home-body hubby, make home pleasant, simple, and streamlined. Develop a few super-easy and delicious meal plans and train your children to be pleasant and mannerly. Then you won’t be as desperate to get out, and can enjoy every day at home rather than feeling sorry for yourself about missing going out date nights.

  • We do date night at least every week – sometimes we’re fortunate enough to do two a week! We rarely go out – a homemade desert and a boardgame, puzzle or Netflix, Library, borrowed or from-our-stash movie. Last week we needed something shorter so we made our own “Subway Art” with Power Point using our family mission statement as inspiration. Along with hot tea and some homemade cookies we had a great time!

    We are terrifically fortunate to have free childcare the first friday of each month at our church – to participate we have to “work” as care providers one month a year. This gives us 3 hours of time to do something. We’ve gone hiking at a nearby park with a picnic dinner, grabbed a cup of coffee/cocoa at a local coffee shop and talked, or even gone out for dinner.

    We are also very, very blessed to have a couple at our church who raised their children away from their extended family as we do ours. A couple times a year, they take our children overnight so we have a child-free evening all night long! An older couple did it for them and now they’re “paying it forward”. Their only criteria is that we “pay it forward” someday too! We definitely plan on it!

    Love reading all the ideas here!

  • Meghann says:

    My husband and I watch a couple shows together but they are always on right when we are putting the kids to bed. We record them and then sit down one night and watch them together. We can pause them and talk and also talk on the commercials. Its some guaranteed time to snuggle on the couch next to each other!

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