My husband had a full-time job while I finished out my MSc degree (and held a part-time job). Before settling on a day of the week to be official "date nights" for us, we were pretty bad at carving out time for just 'us' to not focus on work, school, bills, etc. It made for some unhappy months where we didn't feel we were truly connecting as a married couple. Ouch. Not what you want in your first two years of marriage.
We knew this wasn't healthy, and sat down on the couch together one night to discuss 'us' and how to make ourselves and our relationship a priority again. We majority of our relationship (and all of our engagement) long-distance, and so we were okay with going on lavish (aka a nice restaurant or football game) dates when we were together. While apart, we would dress up and set up Skype calls to play a movie at the same time so we could watch it together. But now that we are together (and,
you know, married so he's stuck with me) it is hard to motivate yourself to go on dates and get creative about them. We aren't made of money and don't want repeats of the same things over and over again.
Going through our date jar from my bridal shower and looking up things online, these are some date night ideas that are affordable for any budget (and we had fun)...
Netflix & Chill
Josh and I are on my family's Netflix plan (thanks mum and dad!) and we enjoy watching the documentaries they have on there. He'll pop some popcorn for me, pour some munching snacks in bowls, we'll grab all of the pillows and blankets and throw them on the couch, and turn off the lights - phone's off! If there isn't anything on Netflix, we now have TV and usually find something interesting on the National Geographic or History channels. During the documentary we'll have conversations - usually one of us asking the other questions that we then have to Google - so it's a real learning experience. We're currently watching two series: one about Bobby Kennedy's life and One Strange Rock featuring Will Smith. SO GOOD.
If we just want to watch a cheesy movie (usually me), Josh will set up the projector we have (someone was throwing a perfectly good projector away so we snapped it up), prop up a pillow fort, and make me a nest egg. A nest egg is basically a pile of blankets I will burrito myself into. Bliss.
We both gobble up books and hoard them. Josh more than me. Which is why these bookstore/library dates are the best ever (and FREE if you do them at a library). We're did it in New Zealand and want to try in Australia now. Here's what we each did...
Who could resist a date that involves stargazing? We recently got a telescope to make this easier, but back when we lived in the middle of nowhere in New Zealand we could walk (or drive to a particular spot) to see the stars. We had our stargazing books and The Night Sky app so we knew what we were looking at (since we were new to the southern hemisphere). When we finally had a car, this made for the perfect opportunity to spontaneously see the auroras that are sometimes visible in New Zealand.
And I do mean spontaneously. As in, Josh was in the shower when I burst into the bathroom and said, "Do you want to drive for 45 minutes to possibly see an aurora?" There was a pause, a sigh, and then, "Yes. Go get bundled up." We made the trip, made some friends, and saw something that had been on both of our bucket lists- just for the cost of petrol!
With both of us working some sort of customer service job, we didn't get weekends off together to do things. So on days where one of us was off and free, we would go to the other person's work (or school) and bring them a packed lunch of their favourite foods. If the weather was nice, we would go to the waterside or a nearby park and just bask in the sun for a bit. It was a nice way to reconnect in the middle of the day and to get away from the chaos of work (or statistical analysis). We thankfully both work in the city now and still meet up occasionally for lunch to eat together, walk around the city, or something just sit on a park bench and rest our eyes.
Armed with $10, go to the dollar store (or an equivalent, if your country has it) and surprise each other with a special gift! You know what else you can grab at the dollar store? Cheap water guns you can use to spray your SO with during a water-gun fight!
Sports games... from a pub
Want the atmosphere of screaming a long with a bunch of people rooting for your team without the expensive ticket price? Grab a pint of your favourite beer (or cider, in my case) and share some finger foods (we had nachos) as you watch your team either crush the opponent or be crushed. Either way it's a fun and cheap way to enjoy some sports and make some new friends if you're keen to talk to those around you. Nothing like singing the national anthem of New Zealand in an Irish pub filled with internationals from all around the world- including some kiwis, too. One of our cheaper sport-related dates!
Groupon's "things to do" section
I am obsessed with Groupon. I love finding deals for experiences we can do together-- and even gifted Josh a kayaking excursion in New Zealand last year. We had so much fun dipping our toes in the freezing water, racing to see who was the fastest, and just bobbing in the waves. They also have cooking classes, harbour cruises, escape rooms, go karting, etc. We'll be using them this winter, too!
We are still tourists in our own city- we haven't visited everything just yet! Many museums have days of the week where admission is discounted or even free! We took advantage of Te Papa in New Zealand being free and sometimes splurged some money on the special exhibits (like the Pixar animation one). When we moved to Australia, we paid extra to see a REAL WOOLY MAMMOTH (obviously dead). We love museums and are lucky our home has so many to offer! With winter coming up, you'll be seeing us there a lot more often.
Exploring nearby places
We love going to cities that we've visited but haven't really explored and walking around. When we had a car, we would just jump in and look at a map of a nearby town and say, "Alright, that's where we are going today!" We do a lot of window shopping while at these new towns, and often go to funky eateries or check out local parks. Living in Sydney, we try to visit a new beach (accessible by bus/train for super cheap on Sunday's) each weekend.
Sometimes we don't plan these days at all! One day we drove to see “Old Stinky” at the Wellington Botanical Gardens. It was a bit of a let down... no stink. Disappointed, and already out, we pondered about what we wanted to do. I had been wanting to go out to Cape Palliser for a while, as apparently the drive out was incredibly scenic and the Putangirua Pinnacles were nearby. In a spur-of-the-moment decision, we climbed back into the car and decided to head out that way. It’s only about 50 kilometres southeast of the major Wellington city, but it’s 100 kilometres by road. For the next two hours we went through mountains and valleys, losing GPS signal and phone service. We would stop every wee while to take pictures and stretch. It ended up being a gorgeous place-- and is one of my most treasured memories with Josh.
Here are some date nights we are keen to try out soon...
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE AFFORDABLE DATE NIGHT ACTIVITIES?
And let me know if you've done any of these!
Hi, I'm Melissa! I'm a girl obsessed with macaroni & cheese, puppies, and eco-friendly products. Welcome.
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