Submitted Date 02/08/2019

As someone who has spent most of my life living on a pretty tight budget, I thought it would be nice to do a small series of posts about how to make the most of your budget and still do fun things even if you don’t have a ton of extra money to spend on them. For the first post of this series, I decided to write about some fun, inexpensive date night ideas. Keep in mind that these ideas can also be done with friends or even by yourself!


It can be really difficult to justify spending money on some fancy dinner or overpriced movie when you’re on a tight budget. Date nights don’t always need to be expensive though. In fact, there are tons of cheap and even free date night ideas out there, and this post will tell you all about them.

1. At home movie night

The first idea is an at home movie night. I know what you’re probably thinking. Watching a movie at home? I do that all the time. That’s not a fun date night. It can be though! The first step is to pick a movie, or multiple movies if you want. You can rent a movie from Redbox, which only costs $1.99, pick one out on Netflix or Hulu if you are subscribed to either of those, or my personal favorite thing to do—go to your local library and browse their movie section. The library in my town has so many movies that you can check out for completely free. They consistently update their selection with new releases too! Once you’ve figured out what you’re going to watch, head over to Wal-Mart or Dollar Tree and stock up on all of your favorite candies, drinks, and some microwave popcorn. Purposely making a night out of it will make this one feel much more like a date night rather than just another day watching TV at home. Be sure to make your movie watching area extra comfy with blankets and pillows too!

2. Dinner

The second date night idea is to make and eat dinner together. Again, this is an everyday thing that you can make special by putting some extra thought into it. Pick out a recipe that you both really love or want to try out, and then go shopping together to purchase all of the ingredients. Pasta dishes are always great when you’re looking for an inexpensive, but still tasty dinner option. Buy a bottle wine to go with dinner if you’d like too. My personal favorite when I’m on a budget is Apothic Red, which is usually only about $10 a bottle. When you get home, get ready as if you are actually going to go out on a date. Put a dress on, iron your shirt, do your makeup, style your hair. Just because you aren’t going out anywhere doesn’t mean that you can’t still get all dressed up. After that, put on some music, pour yourselves a glass of wine, and start cooking. Cooking can be a lot of fun, especially when you’re doing it with someone else, so take your time and enjoy it! If you want to make this dinner date extra fancy, you could set up the table with a tablecloth, candle, or some flowers.

3. Hike with a picnic

If you’re in the mood for a more active date, going on a hike together is always a great option. Check out some local hiking trails and pack yourselves some lunch to bring with you so that you can have a picnic as well. It is completely free to go hiking and exploring different trails or national parks, which makes this date idea perfect for those of you who are really strapped for cash.

4. Museum

One of my favorite places to go for dates are museums. However, these aren’t always cheap. Most museums offer free entry to local residents on certain days though, so I suggest doing some research and figuring out which days each museum in your area offers free entry to residents. If you live in Illinois like I do, Chicago has tons of free entry days for all of their museums throughout the entire year for Illinois residents. You can find a list of which days are free for each museum in Chicago at:

5. At home spa night

At home spa nights are a fun, romantic option too. However, this idea does only work if you have a tub. Setting the mood is a huge part of what makes this option great. Get some candles and set them up around your bathroom and bathtub. Buy a bath bomb to use in the tub. Some of my favorite ones are from LUSH and are usually $8 or under, but you can easily find cheaper ones at places like Wal-Mart or Target. Make sure to get a soothing scent like lavender or rose though to help keep the soothing spa ambience going. Grab yourselves a bottle of that Apothic Red I mentioned earlier and take a hot, relaxing bath with some wine and candles. Play some soothing music and enjoy each other’s company. This is a great one if you’re feeling stressed about money because of how relaxing it is.

6. Game night

Game nights are another fun date night idea that can be completely free if you already own board games. If not, hit up your local Goodwill. They usually have tons of different board games for extremely low prices. Pick out a couple, then pick up some snacks like chips, dip, candy, and drinks. This one can be a lot of fun, especially if you’re competitive like I am. This is the only option that you can’t really do by yourself though.

One really important thing for all of these options is to make sure to be present. This means silencing your phone and tucking it away in your pocket. Remove all outside distractions and really spend some quality time with each other (or with yourself). This is so important, especially when you are struggling with money because that can be extremely stressful. Being broke does not always mean being bored, so try some of these out the next time you’re looking for a fun, inexpensive way to treat yourself


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  • Tomas Chough 3 years, 12 months ago

    Great ideas! I usually do the dinner one with my girlfriend. Adding music in the background makes the experience more special as well. Fun article Alexis!

  • Miranda Fotia 3 years, 11 months ago

    Very good ideas! I like the game night idea the best. We are very competitive too!