This year, I have decided to put my marriage at the top of my priority list. One thing that I decided to try to do this year is have a date night once a month. That's not always an easy task when you live on a shoestring budget. With Valentines' Day this past weekend and our wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks, I am thinking creatively so that we can make it all work. It can be disappointing when we look at our budget, and there simply isn't the money there to go to dinner at a sit-down restaurant or see a movie or play. In my preparation and planning for our anniversary, I've come up with different ideas that would be both fun and frugal. I can also save whatever we don't do for our anniversary for another date night this year.
Here are some of the ideas I've come up with:
- Make your spouse's favorite dinner and ask each other questions about dreams or goals for the year. (The key here is to really listen and not laugh at your spouse's dreams or goals no matter how unrealistic they may seem. Your spouse will respect and love your willingness to let him/her dream and join in on the dream.)
- Find a special deal at a restaurant that you can afford and go out to dinner. If you enjoy dressing up, do it!
- Pretend that you're on a cruise ship or vacation. After dinner go somewhere and keep pretending that you're visitors there. You may find that looking around as if you're a visitor/tourist that you see things you haven't noticed before.
- If you prefer to stay home, pick up a few groceries and make dinner together. Watch a movie you haven't seen in a while or one you have never seen at all. Just spend some time snuggling or laughing together.
- Even though money may be tight, it can be fun to go to one of your favorite stores and window shop. DH and I enjoy going to home improvement stores and looking at items that we hope to put in our dream house one day.
- Board games can be a great way to fun. Change up the rules a bit and make an old game, new again.
- If gifts are important to your and/or your spouse, try making him/her something special. A favorite cookie or dessert can be just as special as a store bought gift. If you sew, crochet, knit, paint, write, make him/her something that shows you really know what your spouse likes. Or make him/her something that would be meaningful for years to come, a calendar of the kids' pictures or a collage of memorable moments.
- Go for a walk. One of my favorite memories with DH is walking barefoot around the plaza. We can't do it anymore, but I'm sure it's something I won't ever forget.
- Watching a movie at a theater can be quite expensive, consider renting a movie from the Redbox or borrowing one from the library. Another option is attending the second run ($1) theater.
- If you enjoy spending time with other couples, consider hosting a snack food pot-luck game night. It could be with just one other couple or several. Everyone brings some snack foods and a favorite board game to play. Just be sure to not be so busy hosting that you don't join in the fun.
- Finding a babysitter can often make date night difficult. We live close to family and they often help us out with free babysitting. (It's a win -win because DH and I can have a date, and the grandparents/aunts & uncles get to spend time with the kids.) If family babysitting is not an option for you, consider having babysitting partners. Your "partners" watch your kids one evening/weekend and you watch their kids another evening or weekend that month. Your kids will enjoy getting to spend so much time with their friends and the adults will enjoy having an evening off to spend together.
- Sometimes going out or finding a babysitter just isn't possible. Try to find an evening that you both can stay up "late" and spend some time together doing something you both enjoy (watch a television show or movie, play a game, or talk).