“Just because you don’t have a lot of money to spend doesn’t mean you can’t go out and have fun,” says Josée Pharand, creator of FrugalFunOttawa.ca. “It takes a little creativity, and you have to be willing to get outside of the box a bit. You can’t just go to dinner and a movie and expect it to be inexpensive.”
Pharand has always had a knack for budget-conscious dating. When they were dating, she and her now-husband used to sit on a bridge that overlooked the Ottawa River to watch the fireworks at a nearby casino. This not only provided a free show, but also gave them a chance to talk. Eight years into their marriage, they continue to be careful with spending -- especially now that they have two young children.
“I hate feeling like I’ve wasted money,” says Pharand. “If you’re on a budget you can still have a lot of fun and there is no need to spend a lot.”
Here are 10 ways to add a bit of creativity to date night while sticking to a budget.
1. Get to know your city. Most of us are so used to our surroundings that we never explore our local landmarks and tourist hotspots. So do a bit of online research and create a personalized walking tour to discover your area together.
2. Cook something new. Go recipe-hunting and grocery shopping together. Try something new, have fun in the kitchen and add a dash of romance as you enjoy a wonderful meal.
3. Take a free dance or martial arts class. This is a favourite of Pharand’s. She says, “Many dance studios and martial arts schools offer a free introductory lesson with no pressure to buy.”
4. Go high-tech treasure hunting. For less than a couple of bucks you can download a smartphone app that allows you to go geo-caching (treasure hunting with a GPS).
5. Plan a picnic. Whether at the park or the beach, picnics are a great way to get creative with food, spend quality time chatting and enjoy the environment in all its natural splendour.
6. Be an agritourist. Get to know where your food comes from. Check out the farms, wineries and orchards in your area.
7. Plan a hometown holiday. Have fun sharing your past by visiting your old stomping grounds. Tour the elementary school park where you used to play, sit under the trees you used to climb, drive past the house you grew up in and eat at your favourite high school chip truck.
8. Play sports. No matter the season, there’s always fun to be had -- from skating and tobogganing to Frisbee in the park or beach volleyball. Going on an athletic date can be a great way to have fun on a budget.
9. Host a potluck. Inviting friends over for a themed potluck dinner is a great, interactive way to introduce your new love interest to all of your friends, without spending a lot of money.