21 Aug 2014
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'Cheap' Dates

A financially-friendly date night can be awesome and leave dough in your pocket

It’s no secret that times are tough for many families, so planning a fancy-schmancy night out on the town with your sweetie may not be an option for you two this Valentine's Day.

By the time you add the cost of a sitter and a dinner for two—complete with some vino and dessert—you could be talking really big bucks. Especially if you feel the need to pick up a new pair of shoes or a cute shirt to kick up your wardrobe for your big date, it may put a serious strain on your wallet.

But there’s no need to for money to be the reason that you can’t get out for a quiet night come Valentine’s Day. Options abound for a romantic and inexpensive date-night for two, even when times are tight. 

Here are some ways to kick up a date night when you’re trying to stay away from spending all your dough on a silly, lovey-dovey, heart-happy holiday:

If you’re foodies—and granted, it’s hard to be a free date if you’re really into good food—you can bring it on home. Find a recipe you like, and try your hand at creating it in your own kitchen. If you're both working together on the meal, it can really be fun as long as you enjoy the journey. Find value in the hunting for a recipe, the shopping, the preparation and the eating. If you're a team for the whole process, it's more time spent creating a great dinner—and a memory.

If you’re gamers (or even if you’re not), play games—and I’m talking board games here. If you’re like us, you probably have a ton of games sitting in a closet somewhere. Pull one out. Grab a beer (or a glass of wine). Throw some cheese and crackers on a plate, and put your game faces on. You’ll be surprised how much fun it is to play Scrabble with your honey or beat the socks off of a loved one in Hearts or Rummy (if cards are your thing).

If you’re sports fans and you can’t swing a Wizards or Caps game, take in a wrestling match, basketball, or volleyball game at one of your local high schools.  Sure, the competition may not be pro-caliber, but the excitement of  some of the high school games may surprise you. Nothing like holding hands with your sweetheart in the bleachers in a sweaty high school gym to bring back memories of days gone by.

If you’re health nuts, make a call and try to swing a freebie yoga or pilates class, or request to tour . Usually you’ll get a free trial class or a free workout, and if you’re true health nuts and really are looking for a new place to work out, there’s no harm in asking if the club offers a “couples’ discount.”

If you’re dreamers, all you need is a free evening and a few pieces of paper and pens to sit down together to create a couple’s bucket list, your ‘together’ plans for upcoming year, or a list of the 100 places you’d like to visit together.  How much more romantic can it get to together plan your future?

If you’re up for giving back, volunteer together.  Call a hospital, a shelter, a soup kitchen, or a church.  Ask what they need and how you can help.  If you’re animal lovers, visit a shelter and spend time helping out with the feeding, cleaning, and petting of the animals there. Goodness knows there are more than enough ways to give back to your community if you make the right calls.

If you’re travelers, travel together. Pack a meal or two, grab a few bucks for gas and drive. Head over to Annapolis, down to Virginia, or up to the Keystone State, and just drive. Plan the day trip—or not. Sometimes flying by the seat of your pants is exciting. Hop on the Metro and get off wherever you want, whenever you want. Hold hands, talk and enjoy being together.

No matter what kind of people you are, there's a date for you, no matter how little—or how much—money you have on hand to spend. As long as you're with a special someone, or company you enjoy, it really doesn't matter what you do in the end.

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