Planning a budget-friendly date night has its challenges. But have no fear, we are here to share with you our step by step guide to planning (and staying committed to) date night, even when you’re on a tight budget.

Already have your date night budget strategy? Click HERE to see our 10 easy steps to planning a date night.

Interested in budget-friendly date night ideas? Click HERE to scroll down to the list of some of our favorite ideas!

STEP ONE: DETERMINE YOUR DATE NIGHT BUDGET

In order to plan your budget friendly date nights, you first need to know what your budget it is. Too many times we place date night on the back burner because it’s “not in our budget”. Well, the fact is that date night is vital to continuously strengthening your relationship, so making it fit in your budget is important.

But how much should you spend each month on date night (yes, it’s possible to have consistent monthly date nights)? The average date night out can cost between $40 and $100, but really, you can choose whatever fits your personal budget. Honestly, you can plan a super fun and impactful date night for $20 or less if you get creative.

Tyler and Michelle, founders of the Crated with Love date night subscription box, launched the company after noticing how important a monthly, budget-friendly date night was to their relationship.

“When we were first got married, things changed drastically in our relationship. We had more bills, more financial responsibility, and less time. The first thing to go was date night, it was just easier to give up. But then we noticed that something was lacking in our relationship”, Tyler states.

“We just weren’t connecting like we used to when we were dating. So, we decided to make date night a priority. No matter what. Each month, we would take $20 and set it aside (which was a lot for us then). We promised each other that no matter what, we would have that $20, intimate date night. And it worked!”

Your date night budget doesn’t need to be huge. In fact, just $20 a month (that’s less than $1 a day!) can give you and your partner the quality time you need to reconnect. And that’s the most important part. At the end of the day, date night is about reconnecting with your partner, not about how much you spend.

What do we do?

With your significant other, map out your financials and see how much you can set aside for date night each month. If you don’t have and in depth outline of your personal financials, we highly suggest creating one. Keeping track of your budget is extremely beneficial to the financial and mental well-being of your relationship and can help you save more and stress less.

Also, make sure that you keep your date night budget separate, or find a way designate it away from your other expenses. You can always use the envelope system, but in such a digital age, cash can be a nuisance. Even so, sticking to your budget is important, so make sure to keep your finances organized!

You can even try tools such as Tip Yourself to help you save that date money every month.

If after looking at your budget you still cannot find any room for a date night, start thinking about things you can do create room.

How many times do you eat out or grab one of those fancy coffees each morning? What digital subscriptions are you paying for that you never use? What frivolous things do you buy each month? Be honest.

Yes, date night is that important and making room for it in your budget is well worth the time and energy. That’s why we create our date night boxes with that in mind. With subscription plans starting at less than $20 a month, we want to encourage couples to keep on dating!

STEP TWO: COORDINATE YOUR SCHEDULES

Money is the number one reason we give up date night. The second is time.

Now that you have your date night budget, talk with your partner and create a monthly outline of each of your schedules. What days do you each work? What other responsibilities do you have (soccer practice, PTA meetings, church functions, etc.)?

Sometimes planning can seem daunting because of the perceived time commitment you’ll have to make. Want to know an awesome stat? Studies show that just a couple of hours each month can have an enormous impact on your marriage or relationship. So, can you find 2 hours to spare each month?

What do we do?

With your partner, write out what a typical week looks like for the both of you. We understand that unexpected things come up or you may have some events preplanned, but on average week, what does your schedule look like?

If you have kids, don’t forget to account for their needs. When are they dropped off or picked up from school? Who takes them to practice? What time do they need to go to bed?

Create a spreadsheet, use a scheduling app for couples, or even write it down on a piece of paper. Looking at your schedule, where do you see gaps? Don’t just look at evenings either. Yes, we may call it a date night, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a morning or midday date. Actually, mini dates during happy hour are becoming increasingly popular with parents with packed schedules.

All you need is 2 hours. More is always better, but going from rarely having date night to a consistent 2 hour date night once a month can have amazing effects on your relationship. You can even break it down into a 1 hour date once or twice a month if you need to.

STEP THREE: BRAINSTORM INTERESTS (AND GET CREATIVE)

Okay, you’ve created a budget and mapped out each of your schedules. Now for the final challenge. What are you going to do?!

We asked over 1,000 couples to tell us about their date night habits and the three biggest hindrances were money, time, and creativity.

Coming up with a fun and unique date night is not always easy and it can be hard to motivate yourselves to do something that doesn’t sound interesting. Trust, we know the struggle! Coming up with a new date night theme every month is a challenge (then again, we do absolutely love it). So what’s the solution?

Before we tell you what to do, there are a few important notes we want to point out about date night. The first is that the most important factor is what we call QCT (Quality Couple Time). This describes time you and your partner can spend interacting on a deeper, more intimate level. It’s time spent free from stress and distractions. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you have that couple time to reconnect.

A second important factor to date night is discovery, or the act of learning something new with or about your partner. One of the great things about date night is that it gives you the opportunity to break the monotony and get away from the same old routine we can sometimes find ourselves within our relationships. At times, we can feel like we know everything about our partner, but that’s when complacency can start. When planning your date night, make sure it has opportunities for you each to experience or learn something new with your partner.

What do we do?

This is the fun part! On a piece of paper, write down some of your strongest passions or things you’d be interested in doing more. Do you like the outdoors? Are you a fitness fiend? Do you enjoy science fiction, animals, puzzles, board games, travel, food, whatever! This is an opportunity for you to express some of those interests to your partner.

Once you both have a substantial list (try and hit at least 26 things each), go over it with your partner. As you talk about your different topics, brainstorm some date night ideas that might fall under that category. Don’t be afraid to get a little off-the-wall with your ideas either. The best thing about brainstorming is that there are no wrong answers!

Keep this list handy for when you are planning your date night. Or, better yet, turn it into a game! Write each interest on a strip of paper, fold them up, and put them into a mason jar. Every time you and your partner are ready to plan a date night, pull an interest from the jar, then come up wit a date night idea that fits your budget and your schedules.

Even PLANNING date night can be its own date night! Mind blown!

STEP FOUR: PLAN, SCHEDULE, AND COMMIT

This is where many date nights fail, unfortunately. Things have a way of coming up and schedules are always changing. When this happens, date night is the first thing to get scratched off the calendar.

The best way to combat this is through our 3-step approach: plan, schedule, commit.

What do we do?

Having a solid plan for your date night is important. Psychologically, we tend to stay more committed to things we invest time, money, and energy in.

Secondly, you’ll need to carve (not pencil) it into your schedule. Whether you use a calendar app on your phone or just a good, old-fashioned calendar, make sure you block that time off so you don’t overbook yourselves.

Lastly, and most importantly, stay committed. We don’t have any good tricks for this, it’s just sheer force of will. We’ve already shared how much positive impact date night can have on your relationship, but when it comes down to it, you both need to be committed to following through with your plan. Don’t worry, you got this! 🙂

SUMMARY

There you have it! Your step by step guide to creating date nights on a budget! Easy, right?

Yes, we know that it’s not always that easy, but then again, nothing worth doing is. Creating your date night budget and sticking to it is a challenge, but it is one that can be so powerful to helping you build a strong, long-lasting, and intimate relationship with the person you love the most.

But we aren’t done yet! Want to see a few examples of how to use this guide? Check out some of our budget-friendly date night ideas below!

THREE BUDGET-FRIENDLY DATE NIGHTS IN ACTION

Outdoor Adventures

Let’s say you and your partner love the outdoors and want to spend more time together exploring the wilderness.

Your date night budget is $50 a month. After looking at each of your schedules, you notice that the third weekend of the month is usually the best. More specifically, Saturday. On Sunday you need to make sure all the laundry is done for the week.

One personal interest you each wrote is fitness and getting back into shape. You want to find more ways to workout together for added motivation and support.

You decide to plan a hiking day-trip each month to a local national park. It takes about an hour to get there, so you determine it will be about $15 in gas. Entering the park will be $10. The remaining $25 will be used for a picnic after your hike. You schedule your hike on the third Saturday of the month and make sure to block it off. To help you stay motivated and committed, you do a little research each week together on the different trails you can choose from and the different wildlife you might see along the path.

The After Work Happy Hour Date

You and your partner have two kids in elementary school and no family members that live close by. Because of this, planning a date night can be difficult. Between work and running the kids to and from baseball practice after school, there isn’t much extra time or money.

Even though it’s a little tight, you manage to make room for a $20 a month date night budget. When you look at your schedules, there is almost no open time and a babysitter doesn’t fit in your budget. You do see a slight opening from 4 PM to 5 PM every Tuesday. You choose that time gap to schedule your date night.

One interest you each have is trying new foods and different cuisines. You consider each other foodies at heart, but it’s hard when the daily menu consists of peanut butter and jelly or macaroni and cheese.

Putting that all together, you decide to plan a mini happy hour date at a new restaurant and schedule the date on the first Tuesday of every month. During this happy hour date, you both will try a different appetizer at a different restaurant, then rank it according to different characteristics you’ve come up with. To stay motivated and committed, you create a spreadsheet that lists the restaurant, the appetizer, what part of the world it is from, and its ranking for every location you go to, creating 12 sections (one for each month). Each night after your date, you fill it in. This allows you to reminisce later and collect memories, but also encourages you to keep going.

A Date Night Adventure (in a Box)

You and your partner what to commit to date night, but need an option to stay in. Because your budget is tight and because you have two little ones at home, going out isn’t much of an option. After hearing how awesome Crated with Love is (okay, okay, shameless plug), you and your partner decide to give our datebox subscription a try.

Your budget is about $20 a month. As previously mentioned, your schedule is packed and with two small children, you have almost no time to go out.

You both are interested in games, adventure, and spontaneity, while actively searching for ways to strengthen your relationship. You’ve noticed that quality couple time is hard to come by with small kids.

You decide to have Crated with Love plan your monthly date for you! With a new theme every month and delivered right to your door, you can choose when to do our date based on when you have a free night in your schedule (more than likely, it’ll be when the little ones go to bed). With Crated with Love, you earn physical badges each month (little trophies for completing each date) and your subscription even comes with additional challenges to do throughout the month, so staying motivated and committed is fun and easy!

Does this sound awesome? Learn more about our date night box subscription by clicking the button below!

Now for the date night ideas

Date nights are great fun. And with many studies showing that couples who have a monthly date night are less likely to split up, they might even be part of the secret to a long and happy married life. That doesn’t mean they have to be expensive. Quite the opposite, in fact: there’s many great date night ideas for any budget, so read on for just a few ways to share, laugh, and learn with the one you love.

People looking at hanging art in a museum

1. Visit a museum

If you’re looking for a fun and informative date that also makes you feel ‘cultured’, a trip to the museum is a great place to start. People often think museums are expensive, but that isn’t always true. Even if you’re not lucky enough to live somewhere where the local museums is free, many museums offer reduced rates for locals or at off-peak times. You also don’t have to be from out-of-town to take advantage of discounted ‘Tourist Pass’ bundles.

Blue swing set in an empty playground

2. Rediscover the joy of playgrounds

We get it: there are times when you don’t want culture, and just want some straight-up childish fun. There are also times that you want a really fun date idea that truly costs nothing. What better idea than some playground fun? There are usually several to choose from across the city to be able to change things up too. With this one date idea you likely have a handful of free date ideas.

A playground is also the ideal place to rediscover your inner child, and to watch your soulmate rediscover theirs. We guarantee that – when you see how happy trying to get as high on the swings as they can makes them – you’ll fall in love with them all over again.

Close up of the go to jail square on a  Monopoly game board

3. Show your competitive side with a game night

How many of us have a cupboard full of old board games that we haven’t opened in years? Rather than see it as a reminder that you really need to declutter, why not use that cupboard as an inspiration for your next date night? Relearn your childhood favorites or create your own new rules for traditional games.

You can even get your friends involved, taking turns to host and each bringing a dinner course or selection of snacks and drinks.  Maybe even form a two-man dream team with your date to fight your friends for Pictionary bragging rights.

Volunteers stacking their hands together before working together

4. Volunteer together

Wherever you are in the world, there are local good causes desperate for volunteers.  Why not combine a date night with giving a little back to the community? It could be serving food at a homeless shelter, helping kids with their reading, or looking after some furry friends in the local animal sanctuary. It’s really up to you.

All it takes is a quick Google search to find opportunities in your local area. And who knows, you may even discover a side of your partner (and yourself) you’d never really seen before.

Aerial view of a machine factory

5. Discover together on a factory tour

Rather than sitting on the couch and watching one of those “How it’s Made” TV shows, why not go and find out first-hand?  More and more factories are opening up their doors for public tours, often for little cost.

If you’ve ever wondered how the local producer makes their honey, or debated with your partner how they make sure there’s the same number of candies in each little packet – or even if you’re simply interested in something new – this could be your kind of date.

Man walking down aisle in a flea market

6. Visit a flea market

A trip to a flea market can be a really fun date in and of itself. Browsing the various stalls, soaking up the bustling atmosphere, finding quirky objects and things that rekindle long-forgotten shared memories. Just be careful with the impulse purchases as they can eat into your budget.

You can also use a flea market date as inspiration for your next date night too, using it to, for example, find cheap equipment for a new joint hobby, or to buy the materials for a new DIY project to do with your partner.

3 slinkys spread out on colorful pieces of paper

7. Play with old toys

Even if board games weren’t your thing, we can imagine that you or your partner still have some old, cherished childhood toys lying around the place. Whether it’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Power Rangers, Lego or Lincoln Logs, why not dig them out and invite your partner on a playdate?

You can share childhood memories, learn things about each other that you never knew, and reignite the boundless imagination, creativity and belief in the impossible that adulthood has all too often sucked out of us.

Snowy mountains with blue lake and trees

8. Have fun outdoors

Forget tours of buildings or galleries – wherever you live, you don’t have to go far to see that nature really is the world’s greatest architect.

Being in the open air can help us feel grounded, connected to the world around us, and to each other. A change of scene can energize you and your partner or help provide a break from issues the two of you might be facing at home.

Whether it’s a mountain hike, a trip to the sea, or a rooftop from which to watch the world go by below – why not head out with your date and find your happy place?

Bookshelves filled with books in a library

9. Learn together at a public library

You’re never too old to learn. Be it a new language, the skills to help you with technology, or the DIY know-how for that next home makeover project.

It’s also true that learning’s more fun when you have someone to learn and practice with. Someone to help and encourage you along the way (and make sure you stick with it). Which is why classes as a couple can make great dates.

Although private classes can often be very expensive, more and more community libraries now offer free, or subsidized courses on a whole variety of topics.  You might even be able to learn how to use those supplies you picked up at the flea market!

People walking in a farmers' market

10. Go to a farmers market

Just imagine a leisurely stroll in the sunshine with your soulmate, then throw in some great food and the warm feeling that comes from knowing you’re supporting local producers rather than just boosting a big box store’s bottom line.  Now that sounds good, right?

Regular farmers markets are springing up all over the pace. You can pick up something to cook together, buy snacks for on the go, or sit down for a brunch. It’s also a great place to grab some tasty free samples. There are often local bands or artists that you can watch as well.

Conclusion

There you have it – 10 fun, simple, and easy date night ideas that won’t break the bank. Even having a single date night a month, where you and your partner have some quality time to reconnect, can lead to a much longer, healthier relationship.

Prefer staying in or can’t find a babysitter? Don’t let that stop date night!

Try one of our 22 at-home date night ideas! Because date night shouldn’t break the bank.

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