You might be lucky enough that, at this point in your life, money is not a huge issue. If so, that’s great!
But guess what, if you’re hoping to get married some time in the not-so-very distant-future, there will likely come a time when you have a bunch of adorable offspring eating your wallet dry every month. No better time to prepare for the possible future necessity of thrifty living than the here and now in your dating relationship.
Now, I don’t necessarily recommend a cheap option for that very first date with someone. But once you’ve gotten to know one another a little, it’s a great time to not only practice for the future, but also to dive in and really get acquainted, as these less-than-typical budget-friendly date ideas might allow.
Get Outside and Get the Endorphins Going!
Go for a run, a bike ride, or a hike together.
In addition to the benefits of being absolutely free and quite physically healthy for you, some outdoor exercise can be a great opportunity to chat, without the pressure of having to fill every second with conversation.
What’s more, it will also help you learn how competitive your date is or isn’t, which is definitely something you will want to know for the long-term. Trust me, it will come up in marriage.
Relive Your Childhood at a Park playground
This one sounds a little weird. Why should you take your date to a playground? As a full-grown adult? Well, if you’ve never been back to the monkey bars and swings since your childhood, you might be surprised at how fun it can be as an adult. There are a couple caveats with this one, though.
You should either:
A) Go only to a somewhat deserted park playground (when it’s cold out, or too late for the little kiddies, etc.,) so you don’t have the awkward moment of kids’ parents glancing at you funny and wondering if you’re there to abduct their children; or
B) Take a kid with you. Get a niece or nephew, or offer to babysit for a friend.
This can actually give you an even better opportunity to for you and your date to get to know each other – mad babysitting skills should probably go in the plus column!
Don’t Just Have Dinner, Shop for Dinner First
Now this one will actually cost you money, but if you do already have a Costco membership, you won’t be spending any extra money. Taking a date with you to get groceries at Costco can actually be a lot of fun, at least between the hours of 11am and 4pm when the samples are out.
Okay, maybe stopping at every sample table and trying to inconspicuously sneak seconds on your way back through together will make you feel like you’re 80. Or, just maybe, it will be a lot of fun, and you’ll see yourselves growing old to 80 together.
This one, I admit, is probably not for everyone. The first time I brought my now-husband with me to Costco, he thought I was nuts for treating the trip as a smorgasbord. But I know he secretly thought it was fun too.
Also note, if you do want to make this option into a legit lunch as we often did, their food court has a lot of wallet-friendly options.
Netflix and actually chill
A night in, watching a series or movie, might sound like a no-brainer for a low-key and cost-free date, but I think there are some important caveats that can make or break this one as a good idea for a Catholic couple.
If possible, do it in a group-setting with friends, so as to get rid of temptations to what the rest of the world means by the “chill.” Or, if one of you has roommates who might be in and out at various parts of the evening, embrace that and roll with it as the built-in chastity net that it is.
Another good idea is to not simply treat it as mindless entertainment.
My husband and I have frequently watched TV and movies together ever since we started dating, but we constantly discuss what we’re watching – What does it mean? Why is this so good? What makes this suck so badly? Doing this in a dating relationship is also another means of getting to know your date and how he/she thinks.
And lastly, pick something good. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that, no matter how convenient or cheap a night in watching something might be for a date night, if what you’re watching together is rather on the impure side, it’s not going to help you in your quest for holiness as a couple.
(And, wouldn’t you know it, I have an entire blog devoted to suggestions of good stuff to watch – Thorne in the Flesh: A Faithful Catholic’s Guide to Netflix, Hulu, and More.)
What other budget-friendly date ideas can you think of? How do you have fun with your date, without breaking the bank?