Imagine being halfway through a date when you realise you can’t actually pay for it. What a way to kill the romance and stress you out! It sounds like what you need are some creative budget friendly date ideas.
A fun and romantic date doesn’t need to break your budget. The best dates give you a stronger bond and more memories, not more credit card debt. Even when your budget is tight, you can still have a beautiful and meaningful date by planning ahead and getting creative.
When Mr Bear and I first started dating, we were young and didn’t have a lot of money. I was earning a pittance of a salary working more than 80 hours a week and my husband was working on a startup business.
It wasn’t in either of our budgets to spend a lot on multiple dates every week. Luckily, we didn’t need to. Even now, we still enjoy some budget friendly dates to spend quality time together without breaking our budget.
Here are some of our favourite budget friendly date ideas, and some we’re planning on trying soon! You can make a lot of these dates completely free by trying to use what you already have.
- At-home waffle bar
- Cook a nice budget friendly meal together
- Pamper each other with a spa night
- Have a budget friendly picnic
- Have a book club night together
- Play couples trivia
- Create a budget friendly time capsule/scrapbook
- Play video games together
- Go stargazing / see the city lights
- Do some budget friendly baking together
- Stay up all night talking – most budget friendly date ever!
- Budget friendly day trip of wine tasting
- Go window shopping
- Peruse local street markets
- Make each other voucher books
- Watch documentaries together
- Listen to podcasts together
At-home waffle bar
Cost: Free – $20
We’re both homebodies so this was a great way for us to try new things and spend time together.
A waffle maker isn’t necessary for this date. You can buy waffles as part of your groceries along with some fun additions like chocolate and…more chocolate! Check what you have in your pantry and fridge first. Only buy what you need and will fit within your budget.
For an even more budget friendly option, swap waffles for pancakes. You only need a few staple ingredients, a pan and a spatula. I’m guessing you probably already have all those things in your kitchen!
Cook a nice budget friendly meal together
Trying new recipes together is always fun. It’s like going to a cooking class where there’s no instructor and you have to figure it out for yourself! Try making one of your favourite restaurant dishes, or be adventurous and try something new altogether. When you’re ready to eat, you can even have a candlelit dinner at home and get all dressed up!
Just remember that you need to plan ahead and according to your budget. Your date will need to be considered in your meal plan and grocery budget. Choose a meal that has a low cost per serving or doesn’t use expensive ingredients.
Pamper each other with a spa night
Cost: Free – $30
Foot rubs, face masks and chocolate. Need I say more? This date is great for a Friday night when you’re ready to unwind from the stressful week. You can talk about your week or start planning your weekend adventures. Try putting on some Netflix for a relaxing movie night.
To keep this date as budget friendly as possible, don’t buy anything new. Make do with what you have. If you do have the budget to spend some money, be careful with what you buy so that you’re within budget.
Have a budget friendly picnic
One of my favourite memories with Mr Bear is the indoor picnic we had when we moved into our first apartment. We spent the night moving all our IKEA flat-pack boxes into our new home.
We were starving but it was too late to unpack or assemble anything and we had no food. So, we ordered Thai food and sat on the boxes on the floor and ate our first meal in our new home.
You don’t need to order food if it isn’t in your budget. If you plan ahead, you can prepare a menu of your favourite dishes for your picnic. Add the ingredients to your grocery budget. For an extra fun date, you can even make all your picnic food together!
Have a book club night together
While I prefer books, Mr Bear prefers audiobooks. We read/listened to The Martian together which was a lot of fun. We’d read small sections of the book and then chat about it, wondering what would happen next.
For a cheap option, buy a $2 book from Kindle. For a free option, choose an old favourite you already have or head to your local library.
Play couples trivia
Have fun getting to know your partner and all the fun, quirky and wonderful things about each other. Find out what’s on your bucket lists and share cute childhood moments. You can search online on Pinterest for free couples games, quizzes and trivia questions.
Mr Bear recreated one of my cute childhood moments when he proposed to me. Even as a child, I loved wearing rings. I would cut pictures of rings out of catalogues and magazines (yes, even the hole in the middle) and try to put them on my little fingers.
When Mr Bear proposed, he didn’t present me with my engagement ring. He made a graphic illustration of my ring, printed it, cut it out and proposed to me with a paper version of my own engagement ring. So, these dates cost us nothing but created priceless memories.
Create a budget friendly time capsule/scrapbook
Cost: Free – $10
You don’t have to print a ton of photos if it isn’t in your budget. You can print a few special ones, or skip them altogether. Movie ticket stubs, cards and love notes you’ve collected over time are all beautiful things to include in a scrapbook.
You also don’t need to buy expensive albums and accessories. A blank notebook and some glue will do just fine. It’s even better if you already have those things at home. If you have the budget for it, you can get yourself some more craft supplies.
This is something Mr Bear and I are planning to do sometime soon. We’ve collected a lot of photos and memorabilia from all our travels around Europe. I’ve been wanting to turn them into a scrapbook.
Play video games together
Cost: Free – $30
We’ve often had a lot of fun playing video games together, but the same idea applies to board and card games too. Mr Bear even collects games he thinks will be fun for us to play together, like the LEGO Harry Potter games.
If you’ve already got the games, then you only need to set a date to play them. Otherwise, you can try finding inexpensive games at Kmart or buy a cheap deck of cards. Feeling creative? Why not make up your own game?! Winner gets all the chocolate!
Go stargazing / see the city lights
This one is something close to my heart. Mr Bear and I would do this a lot when we first started dating. There was a hill in a suburb close to our favourite budget-friendly restaurant. After dinner, we would get some hot chocolate and drive up to the top of the hill.
From there, we could look out at the city lights of Sydney. We used to talk about one day building our house on that hill. That will probably never happen, but those memories were all part of falling in love and planning our future together. It cost us less than $10 but those memories are priceless.
Do some budget friendly baking together
Cost: Free – $20
I love to bake. I’m not the type to create a triple layered cake with lashings of buttercream and decorations, though. I have no patience to wait for the cake to cool. From the oven and into my mouth you go, little cupcake!
Baking together on Saturday mornings is a fun tradition to start. It doesn’t have to cost you more than a few pantry staples, which you probably already have anyway!
If you do need to buy any supplies, just be mindful of your budget while you shop. A $1 pack of flour does the same thing as a $3 pack of flour. The packaging might be nicer, but you’re not eating that.
Stay up all night talking – most budget friendly date ever!
There’s a reason most of us spend hours talking with our partners when relationships are just starting out. It’s probably one of the cheapest budget friendly date ideas. Talk about anything and everything, whatever you want. It doesn’t have to be a deep and soulful conversation. You can even just watch a movie and critique it all night. The point is that good conversation is free.
Budget friendly day trip of wine tasting
Cost: $30 fuel (don’t venture too far) and $15 for packed lunches or picnic
Depending on where you live, you might be able to take a day trip to a local wine region. Have fun exploring the wineries and stopping off for a bit of wine tasting, which is often free. You might find a new favourite!
You can even pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery and getting away from the city for a while. Just be mindful of how far away the wineries are because you’ll need to make sure you have enough in your fuel budget to get there and back.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more money and have a weekend getaway, make sure you create a debt-free travel budget first.
Go window shopping
The trick to keeping this a budget friendly date is to not buy anything! I’m not going to suggest you leave your wallet at home. I think that’s terrible advice – what would you do in an actual emergency!? If you’re easily tempted, I wouldn’t suggest this date for you or your budget.
If you’re okay with just looking and not buying, though, this is a fun way to see what’s out there and what you both like. You might even discover some ideas for birthday presents that you can start saving up for.
Peruse local street markets
Many neighbourhoods have local markets or festivals where streets or public parks are packed with all manner of stalls. Take a look around at the handmade crafts and taste all the jams. Just like with window shopping, it doesn’t cost you anything to look around.
Make each other voucher books
Cost: Free – $10
This is probably one of the most creative budget friendly date ideas on the list. I made Mr Bear one of these for his birthday many years ago. I probably had more fun making it than anything, but it was a surprise, so I did it locked away in a room. There were coupons for his favourite meals, video game sessions, massages and movie nights.
You and your partner can make them as surprises for each other but work on them at the same table. No peeking! It’s even more fun if you each make a coupon book for yourselves and then swap. You and your date can then choose how you want to spoil each other.
For a free option, try to use what you have and get creative. For a cheap option, buy a pack of colouring pencils – it’s perfect for adding colour and drawings.
Watch documentaries together
Cost: Free – $12
While movie night can be fun, learning new things together is always a great experience. You can choose your documentaries based on your interests and how “heavy” you want the topic to be.
There’s plenty out there on Netflix, so it shouldn’t cost you any more than your regular Netflix subscription. If you don’t have Netflix, you can find lots of great content on YouTube.
For something light and exciting, travel documentaries are a great option. You can start planning an adventure together!
Listen to podcasts together
Mr Bear loves podcasts, and I’m proud to say that I’m the one who introduced him to them. They’re a great way to get some free knowledge and entertainment and can spark hours of conversation.
Find something that interests you both. There are tons of podcasts on almost any topic you can think of – food, movies, general knowledge, history, technology, travel.
The best budget friendly date ideas are the ones that create memories, strengthen bonds and cost as little as possible. A fun and romantic date can still be budget-friendly. Whether you’re staying at home or heading out, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to spend quality time with your partner. Some dates may cost a few dollars and those can be planned ahead and included in your budget. Some dates are completely free. The memories and bonding, however, are priceless.