While you obviously want to have fun with your partner — and do interesting things together as a way of keeping your relationship fresh — it can start to feel as if everything revolves around spending money. Lots and
lots of money. But if you get creative, you and your partner can still go on dates, hit up the town, and have fun without spending a lot.
Sure, there's something really nice about going to dinner and treating yourselves to nachos, burritos with all the fixings,
and the holy grail of any meal that is guacamole. And the same can be true for splurging on movie tickets plus plenty of snacks. Or dishing out for fancy drinks at a cool, new bar. You can still do those things if you factor them into your budget, and make a pact that you won't go overboard.
But they aren't the only
date night ideas out there, and it certainly "does not have to cost a lot to have fun in a relationship," Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, tells Bustle. "Having fun in a relationship is entirely based off of you and your partner being together, not exactly how much is coming out of your wallet. The enjoyment comes from the memories you build together." So, with that in mind, read on for some ways to save money and still have fun with your partner, according to experts.
Learn To Love Cooking At Home
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Nothing beats the ambience of a restaurant, or the feeling that accompanies the arrival of fresh garlic bread at your table. But what if you made that garlic bread at
For fans of dining out, the idea of cooking might not seem as exciting — and that's totally fair. But if your goal is to save money, it can help to change up your mindset. Chances are, there are all sorts of interesting ingredients in the fridge that are just waiting to be chopped and cooked.
"This is much cheaper than going out for dinner and creates a fun and intimate experience,"
Gabrielle Applebury, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. So why not turn home cooking into a fun, new goal you have as a couple?
While lots of hobbies involve pricey gear, there exists an endless list of things you can do that won't cost a dime. And if you want to stay busy and have fun, you may want to consider which ones sound like they're worth a try.
For example, "hiking and physical activity are things you can do together, [and] enjoy each other’s company while staying healthy and happy, and, on top of all of that, saving money," Trombetti says. Simply look up local trails and create a list of interesting destinations, then have at it.
Other activities include having picnics in the park, riding your bikes, touring your own town, going to free museums, or watching old movies at home. Again, the list goes on and on.
Stay In (But Make It Special)
Of course, the best way to save money is to stay in and enjoy each other's company in the comfort for your own home. And that can mean putting on a movie and calling it a night. But if you want to spice things up and have more fun, you certainly can.
"Creativity and thinking outside the box can make this cost efficient move a great time," Trombetti says. You might make your usual movie night into an event by preparing snacks and setting the mood. Or you might lavish each other with attention, in a way that feels special. Think
creating a spa night, or bringing each other breakfast in bed.
These are all fun ways to add a little something extra to your time spent at home, without going over budget.
"Having fun is subjective and the key to doing this with your partner is knowing what they like,"
Robyn Koenig, ACC, CPC, ELI-MP, a certified professional dating coach and matchmaker, tells Bustle. "For example, if you know your partner really loves being outside after a stressful day at the office, take a moment to plan a beach walk or some snacks in the park before dinner."
This can replace your usual pricey getting-drinks-inside routine, and it can also feel more personal. Plus, as Koenig says, it "shows them that you 'get' them and what they really like to do." And what could be more special than that?
It's so easy to get caught up in the momentum of an evening, and forget all the simple ways you can save money, including bringing your own bottle of wine.
After all, "one of the most expensive parts of eating out are the drinks," Koenig says. And the last thing you want to do is rack up a big bill when you're just trying to have fun.
So go ahead and pick up a nice bottle on your way out. As Koenig says, "It can seem like such a personal gesture to grab a bottle at [...] your local grocery store and gift it to your date for your evening. It's more personal and will likely cost [a third of] the price."
If your usual date night ideas seem a bit pricey right now, go for something novel instead. "Having new experiences together keeps interest and chemistry high,"
Dr. Lindsay Jernigan, a psychologist and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "Anything that breaks routine counts as a new adventure."
This might look like having a picnic in your own backyard, bowling, jumping in the car and going for a cruise — anything that's out of the ordinary. Most importantly, "put your phones away and focus on each other," Jernigan says. "Giving each other your full attention is the cheapest and richest gift you can give."
Go Out Earlier In The Day
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If you're used to going out on the town later at night, moving your plans up a few hours can save a surprising amount of money, while still allowing you to do all your favorite things.
For example, try switching up date night to daytime dating by going out for breakfast, which is always cheaper than dinner,
Maryellen P. Mullin, LMFT, a San Fransisco-based couples therapist, tells Bustle. Or hitting up happy hour. This can be a easy way of sticking with classic date night plans (dinner, drinks, etc.) without going broke.
Along those same lines, you can also save money by simply cutting your usual plans in half, and making one aspect of the date more affordable.
As Mullin says, "Make dinner at home and go out for a fancy dessert (instead of the big bill, you keep it small). [Or] find a low cost restaurant and then go home for movie night."
You can still have grand date nights on occasion, but this plan will allow you to still have fun in the interim, without spending tons of cash.
Again, having a good time doesn't always have to revolve around spending money, but about the
feeling you have while together. One way to achieve that mood is by stepping out without any plans in mind whatsoever, and seeing what happens. This can give you two a sense of adventure that you might not experience in your everyday life, and that can be incredibly fun.
It might result in something fun, or it could be a (hilarious) disaster where everything goes wrong. But the point remains the same, and that's the importance of being creative, looking for new ways to have fun, and — of course — simply enjoying
spending time together,