Money and romance. Why is it that our society seems to be clueless about the former and starved for the latter? Why is it that the moment these two topics are combined, the result can sometimes be as gut-jarring as a breakup?
I believe it’s partly due to our society’s warped perspective that in order to romance a significant other, you have to spend ample amounts of money. A perspective that consciously screams, “More! Over-the-top! Spend, spend spend!”
A perspective that’s rooted in reality shows featuring perfect strangers going on dates in exotic locales and advertising campaigns centered around telling you precisely how much you should be spending on an engagement ring (because of course if you don’t spend this industry-determined amount, you’re in jeopardy of suffering an eventual broken union some day, right?).
Considering a recent Wall Street Journal report stating Americans have lost over 40% of their wealth while weathering the recession, it boggles my mind that there are people out there spending upwards of $500 on lavish dinners because they feel such grand gestures are the only way to show love/affection. When some families are struggling just to put dinner on the table each night, it’s obvious that a greater percentage of people could benefit from some frugal ideas for keeping your romance alive.
Here are some creative ways to spend quality time with your sweetheart in a way that won’t bust even the tightest of budgets:
- Biking Picnic: load up your bike basket (or backpack) with food that’s already in the refrigerator, hop on your bike, and pedal away.
- Open Houses: Find open houses in your neighborhood and explore the homes while you create your own “life’s story” of the two of you living in the house. One caveat with this is to make sure you’re not taking up the listing agent’s time with questions if you’re not serious about buying. Most don’t mind passerby as long as they can focus their efforts on the people most interested in actually purchasing the property.
- Star Gazing: pull out a blanket & get cozy in your backyard, nearby park, or beach. Bonus points if you happen to see a shooting star on which you can make a wish!
- Tiny Bubbles: Take a free brewery or winery tour or attend a free tasting in your area. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy afterwards.
- He Went Thatta-Way: Kick the standard ‘people watching’ date up a notch by following a random stranger wherever they go (at a safe, non-creepy distance!). When they stop or you can’t follow them anymore, pick someone else and do the same.
- Cherry Picker: Visit a local farm or orchard and pick fruit. Turn that fruit into pies and enjoy the “fruits” of your labor.
- Burn, Baby, Burn: Turn a love of sports into an exercise-fueled date—go for a run, play ball in the local field, go for a hike.
- Book Worms: Read a book together, taking turns but stopping periodically to have the other guess what will happen next.
- Around the World: Pick a theme or region of the world and cook a dinner based on the food found there. Another variation of this theme would be a walking date in the various ethnic regions of your city.
- Bathing Beauties: Light some candles, pop some bubbly, and soak your worries away. Soft background music and fuzzy sleepers optional…
- Snuggle Bunnies: Clear your schedule and take a nap together. Not only will you catch what’s most likely some much-needed shut-eye, but you can enjoy some pillow talk and snuggle time in a very relaxed setting–your own home!
What are some of your frugal date ideas?
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.