20 Pocket-Change Date Night Ideas


Low on cash? Date like you’re still in high school and enjoy these fun ideas together.

1. Have a dance party in your living room and dance to your favorite songs from high school.

2. Borrow a movie from the library or find a movie on Hulu and make homemade stovetop popcorn while watching the classics.

3. Pack some cheese, crackers, and grapes and your favorite old quilt and have a picnic on the lawn.

4. Sit on the roof and watch the sunset together.

5. Get dressed up in your most formal clothes and go to the coffee shop as if you’ve just been to a gala.

6. Sit on a sidewalk bench and people watch, making up fake names and stories about the people you see.

7. Play board games and see who is the ultimate Hungry, Hungry Hippos champion.

8. Go on a hike.

9. Bring your camera and take photos together at the tourist spots around town.

10. Make s’mores over candlelight.

11. Visit the museum on free admission night.

12. Go to the book store and look at travel books, and then plan your dream vacation.

13. Go to the farmers market and buy a new fruit that you’ve never tried.

14. Carry along a loaf of old bread and feed the ducks at the lake.

15. Go to a new restaurant and split a decadent dessert.

16. Fly a kite at the park.

17. Cuddle on the couch and reminisce about “remember when”, telling your favorite stories of when you first started dating.

18. Go to the botanic gardens and hold hands while you stroll.

19. Get a pint of ice cream, hang up twinkle lights on the patio, and enjoy your ice cream outside together in the evening.

20. Go swimming without the kids.

There are more great ideas in the comments after this post. Keep reading!

Small Notebook is full of practical ideas to simplify your life and home.

We’re minimizing our spending by doing a No Spend Month. Find more money-saving articles such as How to Reduce Your Budget in the Beginning. (Hint: don’t start with cutting back on the groceries.)

Want to read more helpful posts like this one? Subscribe. Join thousands of other subscribers and start simplifying. (It’s free.)
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. This topic always makes me think of a date we had in college – we had NO money…so we went to Subway and got the free 12 inch (remember how you could get the stamps on the card to get a free sub?) and we collected our change to buy a $1.32 large soda to share. I’ve kept the receipt for all these years. Young love… :)

    Kelli´s last blog post..Rich In Sugar

  2. My husband and I would go to church or school events when we lived in San Diego. Many times the events were free or cost under $10 per person.
    It was fun for us to get out and enjoy an evening alone.

    Rona´s last blog post..Quirky and Affordable Planters

  3. I love the ideas you have for this. We usually do something similar to one of your ideas. We actually make one night a weekend where my husband and I send the kids to another room to watch a movie of their own with popcorn. We get the living room and couch to ourselves with our own TV (no kids movies) and our own bowl of popcorn! We try to do that every single week. I can’t wait to hear anymore ideas on your comments.

    Chele´s last blog post..Ponderings

  4. I love these ideas! Our anniversary is at the end of the month, so maybe we can combine a couple of these things to do something unique and frugal! Thanks so much.

    Theo-Ann @outside the box!´s last blog post..Primrose pincushions

    • you could combine the kite flying and picnic, and even watch the sunset during the picnic then go kite running under the stars. :)

      also, many cities have a college, rooftop, large hill or park that offers free movies (usually it’s every sunday, or twice a week or something) all summer long. try googling your city’s name + “free movie” + “outside”.

      happy anniversary :)

  5. Our go to date is getting a costume drama (Jane Austen-type) movie from the library and settling into the couch with a cup of tea or a dessert.

    Our biggest struggle is childcare with two little ones. How do you go about child care for your dates?

    • Rachel says:

      We have family close by who can watch Lane occasionally. I also trade babysitting with a good friend. We’re talking about finding a babysitter we can hire during the summer, but I haven’t done that yet.

    • Christine says:

      Sell something to one of the teens in your church/network that you trust. Tell them that you will take Xweeks babysitting instead of money. They are usually more than cool with this.

      • A group of us got together and organized a babysitting co-op. There were 6 families and we met every other week. Two couples would stay with the kids and four got to go out for 3 hours. Luckily we are able to use our church gym and nursery. The kids love running around and playing with toys that are different than what they have at home. If you didn’t have a place that big you could do a group of 3 couples and have one couple watch all the kids at their house. I love it because I get twice as much babysitting as I would from a regular trade…and if you’re going to watch kids you might as well watch a bunch, especially if they are similar ages and play well together!

        Sarah B´s last blog post..Tuesday’s Tip

  6. I love this list! Thanks for sharing. We moved and are now in the land of “no family to babysit” so we are needing cheap (often at-home) ideas for dates. I’m looking for people to start a babysitting co-op with though. They are wonderful!

    Andrea´s last blog post..The surprise of all surprises

    • This is our biggest challenge too, finding things to do with the kids since we don’t have family nearby. One of the things we do, which isn’t terribly romantic but gives us some time to talk–is go to a McDonald’s with a playground and let the kids play while we eat a soft-serve ice cream ($1 each) and talk or play a game together.

      I have a friend who drops their kids off at Wednesday evening church program and she and hubby go to Starbucks and split a drink and talk for 90 minutes till they need to go pick up the kids.

      Kim´s last blog post..Catching Up

      • We do the Wednesday night thing too. Once a year – Bible School – we go out to eat every night (the kids eat at church). It’s a rare thing for us and works out cheaper most nights than when I cook for the whole family (8 of us). Last year we were able to find 2 new-to-us restaurants to try. Looking forward to this years VBS!!

        kelly´s last blog post..Ways to Prevent Swine Flu

  7. chelsea says:

    so many great ideas! going to barnes & noble for a few hours was a favorite when we were first married [and much closer to a store]. now, we will feed the kids early, put them to bed at least an hour early, then eat a later [QUIET!] dinner and watch a movie. we also like to get out a pad of graph paper and sketch the home we’d love to build or browse online for flowers we’d love to put in our yard.

    • Chelsea, hang on to those sketches! You never know!!! Almost 40 years ago, the night we moved into our first home, my daddy sat down and drew out the floor plan for his & Mom’s dream home. They built it once in 1988, again in 1992 (with a few improvements for their lifestyle – and fewer kids since two of us had gotten married) and now, after a few years out of state, they’ve moved back home and are building it *again* – and again with a few modifications to reflect lifestyle changes (now they have 8 grandkids – so they’ve had to add some bedroom space back in, LOL)! Same basic floor plan that he drew up in 1970!

  8. My husband and I are lucky if we get an uninterrupted hour to talk to eachother without one of us being too tired to form sentences. But we are very happy when this happens : )

    Juliet´s last blog post..My next car!!!

  9. About once a month, our county parks do an astronomy night – you can go star gazing for free! Last time we got to see Saturn!

  10. A comment on #2 – the movie night at home. We printed off the American Film Institutes’ Top 100 movies list and have been watching those from time to time. Some are classics we’ve all heard of (and probably seen) and there are some gems on there! A few that we really liked were North by Northwest (action film with Cary Grant), and The Philadelphia Story (romantic comedy w/ Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart). I also recently watched Sabrina (the original w/ Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart) and Funny Girl (Barbara Streisand’s movie debut). Great performances in these movies. You know, these actors had to really perform well back then, there were no special effects like we have today to help them!

    Wani´s last blog post..Loser?

  11. I am sooo making candle smores!

    We go for dessert dates instead of dinner dates. And do it in walkable areas so that the date goes for a long time. We love to explore and window shop for hours and even though we know we’re not going to buy anything — its fun to dream. That’s what love is all about, right? Dreams coming true!

    Natalie´s last blog post..A down home weekend

  12. In summer we get up early and sit on the deck with blankets, drink coffee and enjoy each other in silence!

  13. I am so glad that I came acroos this. Tomorrow is my 15th wedding anniversary. I have it posted on my blog http://swappinspoons.blogspot.com for people to give me ideas but so far nothing. So I was thrilled to come across this!

    Rebecca´s last blog post..HAPPY ANNIVERSARY

  14. I know that libraries vary widely, but we have a great one that offers some good events. They do a free once-a-month family movie in the auditorium (which is almost like a theater) that’s usually good. Sometimes they have local bands to play on the front lawn, so you just come with a blanket for a nice picnic. Plus they have kid’s activities all the time, especially in the summer. The best part is that everything is FREE!

  15. When we first met, my husband and I would take road trips at night. We would fill the car with cds, stop at WaWa for coffee and off we would drive. I decided left or right, and he would drive. It was a great way to talk and get out of the house.

    We go every year at Christmas time, to look at the lights. In fact, my first gift from my husband was four hours of Christmas light looking- he had scoped out some of the neighborhoods ahead of time. It is very romantic and intimate- plus it is pretty cheap. Sometimes we just hop in the car and get lost, we call it “Going on an adventure”.

    • The night I fell for my husband we were in the back seat of our friend’s pickup truck driving around looking at Christmas lights. :) So that’s always something we look forward to each year– although now we get to sit in the front seat instead of being smashed onto a tiny bench behind the driver (not that we really minded then).

      Erin´s last blog post..You Too Can Have This Much Fun for Only $16!!!!

  16. Christine says:

    About 4 times a year, we have a “date at home” Usually we’ll put steak and shrimp on the grill, Big baker potatoes, and a bottle of wine, send the children to bed early (they can listen to Hank the Cowdog or Adventures in Odyssey) while we have a nice dinner together.

    One other idea. When we were in college, I took him on a surprise “date” I blindfolded him and drove him around for a while so he wouldn’t know where we were going. We ended up at the local public lake with a thermos of hot chocolate, and 2 mugs at a picnic table on a cool Autumn evening.

  17. We struggled with the babysitting issue when we moved 250 miles from anyone we knew. Since both our kids were Sunday School age, we made a weekly date at the local diner after church, while the kids were at Sunday School. Three years later we still have this weekly date. We get an hour to talk and usually just order a roll for each of us (which are HUGE) and drink water. Total for both of us? About $2.75. I must truly be a cheap date.
    I love the ideas here. Some we’ve tried, and some we’ll be putting on the calendar! Thanks!!

    Josie´s last blog post..Making Do: Glass Storage Jars

    • Hi! Before other people take this idea and run with it, please ask your church first if they are okay with you being off property while the kids are in Sunday School. My husband’s 11 year career has been in kid’s ministry, and parent’s leaving property has posed safety issues at times. The parents have not been available to help if the kids are sick or injured, and the kid’s programs are not the same as a daycare where they are prepared to deal with these situations without parent involvement. Most church kid’s programs are staffed by volunteers. The churches usually offer the programs so that parents can enjoy the church services without the distractions of little ones…not to offer free babysitting.

      • SmlTwnLdy says:

        So glad you said this..I was debating whether to say something or not. I too am a Children’s minister’s wife and the goal of our childcare is also for the parents to worship in the service without their child(ren) on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s.

      • I agree with you that people shouldn’t leave their kids in Sunday School or Wednesday night services so that they can go do something away from church! I have now heard it all.

        • Elizabeth Hernandez says:

          I’m the daughter of a minister and the wife of a youth minister. I have spent my whole life in church, and am certain that the mission of every Christian church is to be the body of Christ in their community. Christ offers abundant life. I think that blessing couples with an opportunity to connect with one another once a week offers real abundant life for families in two ways: Parents are better parents and children are given invaluable opportunities to know more about who Jesus is. Parents can leave a cell phone number. Any volunteer who is unwilling to be a true blessing to a family may not understand the call of ministry. Parents who are blessed by a weekly date are more likely to commit to and trust a church and the God that church represents. Just a thought. :)

          • Amen, Elizabeth! I agree completely. I am a volunteer for my church’s children’s ministry team and as long as a parent leaves a cell phone number I see nothing wrong with it.

  18. My husband and I do number 6 all the time. Too funny, I thought it was our little secret, but it seems as if we aren’t the only ones that do it.
    Thanks for such a great list!

  19. Great List. It has given me some new ideas. One thing we’ve done is go to the local high school plays, sometimes there is great talent.

    Katey´s last blog post..Happy Mother’s Day

  20. You can also make smores with your broiler or toaster oven…they come out perfect!

    Sarah B´s last blog post..Tuesday’s Tip

  21. We don’t have money for a babysitter for five children, so all of our dates have to be done at home.

    We don’t have cable or Netflix, but for a short while got movies from Netflix for our date. Lately, we have tried getting some movies from Redbox with the free code for our date. We have popcorn at home.

    Sometimes I make brownies or cookies for us, and we’ll play a few games of Sequence together.

    We also have watched a few things on Hulu for our dates.

    • I have been ordering our movies online on the Library website. Then when they come in, I just pick them up and watch them. We are allowed to have them for a week. It has been a great way to view movies without buying them.

      • I wish our libraries had more movies. There are two near here, and both are pretty new. The movie selection is extremely small at both; we couldn’t even find one thing worth renting for us or the children at either place!

        The other thing we do is play board games together. Sequence is my favorite. Board games go on sale at Christmas time, so if you need to get them then, they’ll be on sale, and most stores offer a bigger selections than usual.

  22. My hubby and I love to get in the car on a nice evening and just drive around the countryside looking at the scenery and houses. No radio, just time to talk and share a few “someday” dreams. A nice “sunday drive” any day of the week.

  23. Hey. I know it is not a quaint and romantic as some of the great ideas you had but there is a dollar movie theatre near where we live in Plano

    ( http://www.cinemark.com/theater_showtimes.asp?theater_id=193 )

    Tuesday nights is 1/2 price night ($0.75 as opposed to $1.50…a deal at any price!) They are 2 to 6 months behind the major release schedule in the theaters but if you can hold off a few months you can see the same movies for up to $8.00 less.

    There is also a great family owned coffee shop called Java & Cha…


    It is in the same parking lot as the theatre that offers some amazing coffees and teas and a ton of free board games like Chutes & Ladders and Checkers. It is a great time and you might spend $6 a piece.

    A bargain in anyone’s book.

  24. My favorite date with my husband was about 12 years ago when he was a student and we were on a pretty tight budget. We ordered raspberry cheesecake to go from Olive Garden. Then we took off our shoes, walked on the beach, and fed each other cheesecake while watching a gorgeously colorful sunset.

    Jenn V´s last blog post..It is for freedom that Christ has set us free

  25. My husband and I do most of these already, but have a few more to add to our list. Our favorite is to play remember when. One other thing we do though is we go for nature walks. Hiking is fun if you can get out to do it!

    Lee´s last blog post..Taking a break!

  26. We love doing puzzles (like 1000+ pieces). It’s amazing how competitive we get. Plus it usually allows us time to sit and talk about whatever is on our minds.

  27. Thank you so much for posting these ideas. My baby is just getting to an age where we can leave for a little while so I’m hoping to use some of these ideas in the near future.

    Depending on how much gas is, we like to take a drive and see different areas of town or different cities. It’s a wonderful way to have some quiet time to talk and to see something new and interesting.

    HomeGrown Mommy´s last blog post..Piano for Preschoolers Review

  28. Great list, great ideas. And so timely too. I just had a talk with my husband last week about how we need to make it a point to regularly schedule date night. It helps get back in touch with your marriage, not just the day-to-day plugging along of life and parenthood. One pre-children date night idea we plan to resurrect is sitting outside on our patio, playing dominoes and sharing a bottle of wine. Simple and fun.

    Cara´s last blog post..Enjoy (and reuse) you coffee all day long

  29. My husband and I have 3 kids 3 and under. Since having kid #3, we’ve been really good about doing the weekly date night because we really need it. Since most of the date night money stash has to go to babysitting, we do very cheap things. We are people watchers, and one of our favorite things is just to go to the local mall and get a drink, then sit on a bench and make guesses about the people going by. This lets us sit still, have uniterrupted grown up conversation, and what we say to eachother about the people walking by often sparks larger more personal conversations that bring us closer.

    Alicia Christian´s last blog post..Date Night

  30. Sascha Bush says:

    My favorite cheap date idea is a bottle of three buck chuck from Trader Joe’s, a blanket, and a free movie at Central Park (or any large park) during the summer….


  31. I love these! Not just for money saving, but for keeping things romantic as well. I’m going to pass these along to my MOMS Club Members and friends – how easy it is to forget the simple pleasures…

    Leigh´s last blog post..Around The Clock

  32. Walk to a local play ground and take turns pushing each other on the swings.

    Pick a book you’re both interested in and take turns reading it aloud to each other. Alternating chapters works best for us. It can be a lot more romantic than it sounds and you don’t need a babysitter.

    And a date idea that has a small upfront cost but has turned out to be very inexpensive in the long-run for us is to have a massage night. I bought a little pack of massage cards and each card gives detailed instructions and pictures on how to massage a particular part of the body. Every Thursday, one of us “picks a card” and the other gives them that massage, usually a neck massage or foot massage, then the next Thursday we swap and the giver gets to receive the massage. The massage cards cost about $12.00 and the bottle of rosemary body oil from Whole Foods (which I dilute with olive oil) cost about $10.00. You can’t beat a year’s worth of massages for less than $25.00 and it is very romantic.

  33. In the summer many of the cities around here (southern California) do free movies in the park. Many of them are kid-friendly, but who’s to say you can’t leave them with the sitter and enjoy a movie under the stars by yourselves? :)

    Trude´s last blog post..Caution: Enabling

  34. Courtney Bryson says:

    We have a 5 yr old in Girls Scouts and her meetings are every Monday from 3-4:30. We take that time to spend together and do something. We usually bowl or go grocery shopping. It’s nice to spend time together no matter what we are doing.

  35. Love this discussion. We’ve also cuddled outside on the hammock and looked up at the stars. So many people have hammocks but never really use them. Cheap and romantic fun :)

  36. I’ve found heaps of Date Ideas here at $30 Date Night… it’s not pocket change but its 30 clams is still a cheap enough date. Hope it helps?

  37. Great ideas! My boyfriend is on his way from Sweden to Arizona and I am trying to figure out ways to entertain him (and myself) on a budget. Another good idea is to get out old photo albums and show each other pictures from when you were younger. It creates great stories and you get to know each other THAT much better.

    Hadley´s last post…RSS Links Widget

  38. Have a beach bonfire, lie on a hill and spot cloud shapes or get a few blocks of ice and slide down!

  39. Great ideas. When it comes to dinning out on the cheap, our family clips coupons out of the newspaper each week and signs up for restaurant offers on the internet. Of course we use a separate email address just for offers so we don’t spam our regular email box. These days, there are some really great offers out there for the asking. We have found several buy one get one free offers. We just went to google and looked up each of our favorite restaurants, then signed up for offers on each website.

    Since our daughter is in school early in the morning we looked at doing breakfast instead of dinner. Breakfast can be much cheaper and it is a great way to kick off the start of a work day (especially on Monday’s)

    Another idea we keep in mind is going out to dinner at a fixed price place. For example, Chili’s menu prices are the same at both lunch and dinner.

    Chet Scott´s last post…The Cheapskate Family Vacation

  40. Early in our relationship, My boyfriend and I went to the observatory after hours, put down a blanket, had a bottle of wine and some cheese and watched the stars. We saw TWO shooting stars right above our heads and we knew we were meant to be together!

  41. I’ve always been super frugal and now that my boyfriend and I are living in a small town with nothing nearby we’ve had to get creative! Luckily, we can still easily set aside time for ourselves since the only little ones we have to take care of are our dogs, but the problem isn’t time…it’s what to do. For Valentine’s Day we spent about $20 on some really good steaks and I made them into a delicious dinner. We dressed up and savored them like it was a fancy restaurant, we even poured a different wine to go with dessert. It was definitely better than any restaurant around here and a whole lot cheaper (not to mention relaxing)!

    When we used to live NEAR things we would get a little gussied up and walk to the closest ice cream or yogurt shop, get a yummy treat and wander around town. We’d people watch, stop at nearly every bench, sneak kisses and maybe even dance while we walked back through the park…I’ve decided it’s really about letting go, pretend you’re in that cheesy romantic comedy for just a moment, and you might actually be!


  42. our anniversary is this week (5 yrs together). we are poor as hell this year!!! we also have 3 young boys- so its hard to get anyone to take them all at once.

    so, im making him a gift

    we do not get a ton of time alone without children around. sooo.. and when we do we have no clue what to do (LMAO).

    i found this idea online… i have a can with lid that i am writing as many ideas as i can to do together without kids. that are at home, free, or can be done in a short amount of time (like b4 bedtime). so when we are alone we can go thru and pick something to do.

    here are a few i have after researching and asking for help…

    -no tv nite
    -start planning a family vaca, then save the money
    -start Xmas lists for family early
    -pick a new meal to try, and make it together
    -pick a book to read and take turns reading to each other out loud
    -draw each other, even if you have no talent.. should be fun
    -teach each other something new
    – make/start a couples journal.. take turns filling it out with nice/loving/ thank yous to each other
    -strip poker
    -pick 10 questions to ask that you might have been scared to/ or had no time for b4
    -make a time capsule of your relationship, to open on an annversary
    -challenge: 100 kisses in 3 hours
    -start a craft project.. paint or refinish a piece of furniture
    -make each other ipod playlists
    -video games for 2
    -start baby books for our kids together (sharing memories)
    – one canvas.. make a painting together


  43. Great post and some good ideas !

    Robert´s last post…The Good First Date

  44. Some good suggestions here for some cheap dates. I like the smores over a candlelight one.

  45. Too good!

  46. Great ideas for dates. We are putting together ideas in the Sioux City Iowa area!

  47. Great ideas. Things don’t have to be expensive. I love the s’mores idea.

  48. Interesting ideas… My husbund and I spend time playing uno or making photoes or walking late at night along the empty streets…
    Rosochka Crotton´s last post…И в жизни есть красота

  49. Some great ideas there. I particularly liked the museum night idea.

    We try to have one night where we prepare a meal together. We both love to cook but rarely have time to, so cooking really helps us to wind down. It’s fun for us to try out new recipes. It’s strange but on these date nights, even washing the dishes can be a kind of bonding experience lol

    I guess the most important thing is to find time for each other. Life is meant to be shared.

  50. Carmellia says:

    Hubby and I take the seats out or our van, pop in an airmattress, cooler, deck of cards and go “Camping” sometimes we stay at a campground but often beside a creek or river. We also Geocache for our weekends, planning a route and what caches to find. Sometimes we just go up into the forest a few miles, cuddle in the sleeping bags and talk our worries away. A great many sleeps like that!

  51. Those simple date ideas is going to be a great date its sounds so much fun and very exciting,its good to have a date on a simple places on a better ideas and in the same time it really affordable.


  52. Cook a new meal togather

  53. Nothing is more romantic than standing above a city skyline. If you want to play it safe, Google places with public lookouts or rooftop restaurants. For something more risky, more secluded, and—we think—a lot more romantic, find a familiar building with a negligent doorman, and sneak up a bottle of wine.

    Visit us at http://il-y.co/date-ideas for more.

  54. Just stumbled across your blog and love it! As a mom of 4, I’m always looking for inexpensive date night ideas, I just wish the Dear Husband would be a little more creative sometimes!

    Feel free to add your link to my Blog Directory at http://www.EcoCrazyMom.com under the “Bloggers” tab.

    Terri Babin´s last post…Reverse Trick or Treating

  55. This is such a great list of ideas! My husband and I have been married for over 13 years, and just had our first child. I just started staying at home, so we need lots of ideas for less expensive date nights. I wrote about a recent date night of ours called Date Night, recounting a fun, romantic, yet inexpensive date. I am definitely going to be using some of your ideas soon.
    Thanks for the great ideas!

    The Home Heart
    Jennifer´s last post…Cascade Scarf