Ever since Scott and I moved to Utah, our lives flipped upside down and all around. We don't really see a lot of each other during the week like we used to. Saturdays are our only day to spend that quality time together and usually by the end of the week we are so desperate to be together we start talking about taking elaborate runaway trips to foreign countries and obscure states.
Then we look at our bank account.
To satisfy our needs for dates but simmer down our impulsive big vacation ideas, we have an itty bitty dating budget of $10-$15/week. This might seem crazy to some, but thanks to a few handy websites, living close to a big city, some luck, and a little creativity, our budget has fit us just right.
And look, I know that if you live in like New York or something, this little budget is probably impossible for you, but I feel like sharing how WE do this because I used to be so hungry for date ideas.
First, the tools we use:
1. Groupon.com has become our new best friend.
For anyone that lives under a rock and doesn't know, Groupon.com offers one deal a day where you can purchase a gift certificate for a discounted price. For us, this means $20 worth of food at a new restaurant for $10. Each day, we check the deal of the day and decide if that's what we want to spend our budget on for our Saturday day together. We also use livingsocial.com and citydeals.com.
2. The Cheap Theatre is God's way of saying "you two are important to me."
We are incredibly lucky to live just a few miles away from a theatre that is not quite a dollar theatre, but not quite a new theatre. It's $4 for a matinée and $6 for nights. They show movies that are not quite in the cheap theatres yet but are a little old for the big kid theatre. Yeah, our shoes stick to the floor and it smells like popcorn breath, but the price allowed me to hold hand with my husband through True Grit. Twice.
3. Free/Cheap/Creative Things To Do Around Town: There might be more than you think. You're probably thinking that you just CAN'T afford to go that museum/art show/concert. -But what about free hot dogs at RC Willey while looking at dream furniture?
-When's the last time you visited a new library and picked out books for each other?
-Are there any free classes being offered at businesses near by?
-Is there some summer event that happens once a month that you don't know about yet?
-Have you visited a place of worship you don't know much about and learned together?
-Maybe there's some greasy spoon restaurant that's been on your corner for YEARS and you've never tried it.
4. Getting Creative is key. My husband is great at this BECAUSE he's such a cheap-skate. I have been on picnics in the most unlikely of places and have been driven to tiny towns for tiny town events I never would have visited had it not been for Scott. Another factor to "getting creative" includes taking advantage of opportunities. That means speaking up when a co-worker says she can't go to the car show that weekend and offers anyone that wants them the tickets. That means raising your hand when your brother-in-law offers someone the free basketball game tickets he got from work. Getting creative and taking advantage of free stuff has helped our status as "best friends" remain.
Anyway, put all these tools together and you get a super-cheap date night/day! You don't have to have some big elaborate picnic with vintage bicycles and a perfect sunset. You don't need print-outs of rhyming poems and "invitations." The most important thing is being together.
*We had brunch at a Tea Shop and Bakery (using a groupon) in downtown Salt Lake and afterwards explored the Salt Lake library (where we discovered a rooftop picnic area!).
*We ate at an authentic Thai restaurant (again with the groupon) on Friday night and on Saturday went to a free gardening class at a local nursery. We also signed up for the future classes that interested us and grabbed a $3 lunch at Costco.
*We helped Scott's brother's family move and when we got home, cuddled up to watch the Gonzaga vs BYU game. After that, we had milkshakes at Iceberg.
Perhaps I'm recording this because I know that we will have child soon, and in a few years we will no longer be newlyweds and I'll be sitting somewhere in my bathrobe grumpily huffing that "there just isn't time or money to date!" Maybe then I'll browse through my old blog and remember that my FAVORITE time of dating Scott was not when we were courting, but when we had no time or money.
P.S. If you are some sassy momma that is feeling the need to leave a snarky "just wait til you have kids because this post is laughable" you can keep that to yourself. I realize these won't work for everyone, just thought I'd share what works for us. :)