Written by: Brianne Addison
I get it, times are tough. Money is not so readily in your pocket anymore, and those bills just keep on piling up, which can make having a boyfriend / girlfriend slightly stressful at times. Sure, you’d love to treat “Bae” to the finer things in life, but sometimes that’s just not possible, and you end up feeling like you’re a boring, significant other. If this sounds like you, fear not! You are not alone. My boyfriend and I have been on a budget since day one. Does that mean we never go out to dinner, or splurge on a fun-filled date night? No. It means that those special, fancy, dinners are rare, but also, neither one of us care! So, without further ado, here are some fun, date ideas that will cost you nil (or very little at all).
If you and your SO are the outdoorsy types, ditch the nice dress / blazer, and put on a pair of hiking shoes. In my opinion, there is nothing better for bonding than going on a rigorous hike with your lover. Challenging yourselves, propelling one another to climb to the top of that mountain, and watching your SO push themselves and overcome obstacles, is a very rewarding activity for the both of you. Getting lost can be fun too. You will both feel that much closer when you combine brain power to figure out how to get back on the correct trail. Pack a picnic to share when you’ve completed your hike and revel in the fact that you achieved something together.
Hiking in the woods, not your thing? That’s OK, lots of people aren’t fans. Good news, though! Working out at the gym or at home has a similar effect. My boyfriend and I joined a gym two years ago and have never looked back. On days that we don’t feel like hiking, we go to the gym and workout together. It is both sexy, fun, and sometimes hilarious, watching your partner transform their body. It can be quite intimate helping one another work out (holding each other’s feet during sit-ups, spotting one another on the bench press, and running together on the treadmill, etc.…)
Working together to achieve a goal, whether it be hiking eight miles, or running on the treadmill for an hour, is always romantic, because you get to see the side of your SO that pushes his or herself to their limit, and pushes you as well. Plus you’ve got all those endorphins pumping which makes both of you happier, more loving, individuals.
You may be thinking to yourself, but we’re not outdoorsy people at all? In fact, being outdoors or in a gym seems like the least romantic thing we could do. I’ve got you covered. I’ve discovered that one of the most enjoyable (and romantic) things you can do with your partner is to cook. Research some delicious, doable, dinners then go to the farmers market / grocery store, and pick up fresh materials with which to make said ‘delicious dinner.’ Here’s a fun challenge, see if you can make everything from scratch! No instant anything. There is something so very calming and sensual about cooking together; maneuvering about the kitchen, stirring boiling pots of this and that, slicing fresh vegetables, and concocting delectable dressings and sauces. When dinner is complete, sit down with a glass of wine and enjoy your home cooked meal together. You’ve earned it. Bonus! If it’s warm enough to sit outside, bring a candle and dine to the serenity of nature.
Too tired to make dinner? Ditch the meal altogether and just buy a bottle of wine for the two of you to share. Maybe throw some chocolate in there as well. Get your drink on! It can be ridiculously hilarious getting drunk at home, just the two of you. So much better than spending a ton of money out at a restaurant or at a bar, plus, you’re already home with someone you’re entirely comfortable around. Go crazy! Put on some jams and dance, laugh until you want to pee your pants, and talk until the sun comes up.
If you’re lucky enough to live near a bustling town, like I do, take a drive into town with the goal of not spending a single dime. Some of best date nights my boyfriend and I have had is driving downtown with an open mind, and no money in our wallets. It will force the two of you to be in the moment and celebrate one another’s company. Sit on a bench and people watch, makeup stories about everyone’s lives; discover free concerts and random street artists, there is no telling what adventures you will get yourselves into when you have no set agenda!
Not in the mood to be surrounded by people? Stay at home. If you have a fire pit, break it out! There is no need to throw a big, backyard party in order to have a roaring bonfire. If you do not have a fire pit, they’re quite cheap at places like Home Depot and Walmart. I highly advise investing in one. Bonfires are romantic in and of themselves, especially in the Fall when the weather begins to cool. Grab a blanket, sit on his lap, and wrap the both of you inside the blanket. Roast marshmallows, tell stories of childhood and drink steaming mugs of hot chocolate. I promise this will be one of the most romantic date nights of your life.
If none of these date ideas appeal to you two, there is always the classic option. Put on your pajamas early, grab a bunch of blankets, some food (of course), and head to the couch for an evening of snuggles and, yes, Netflix and chill.