Our out of town gig is finally over and we are back on the homestead, enjoying the presence of poplars and coyotes and the absence of humidity. A brief inspection revealed that rose bushes are alive but not blooming, and most vegetables are dead with the exception of some broccoli, peas, 2 radishes and a surprise turnip (we didn’t plant turnips… but we have one anyway. UPDATE: It was delicious!). Leaving baby plants behind to fend for themselves was an experiment, and I must admit it went about as well as I thought it would.
Now that we are back, we are hoping to slow things down and have some time to ourselves. We failed completely at finding balance in our dually employed, tech-week crazed life (Theater talk for “go time!”). We’ve since discussed the changes we need to make if we find ourselves in the same situation again, but meanwhile, we need to catch up on our free time. This obviously means more blog posts 🙂 … and for us also more dates. To give you some background, we’ve been together for 15 years, married for 6 of those. That said, we still like to go on dates and carve out some couple time. However, we also like to keep things frugal. Here are some fun frugal date ideas:
This can take many forms. We have always been huge movie people and we enjoy going to the movies together. Since Christmas we’ve had MoviePass, which we really enjoy. The app (when we bought it, currently terms and conditions have changed) allows you to see one film per day. Currently, you can not see the same movie more than once. This costs us $7.50 a month per person, as we got in on early adopters pricing with discounts for an annual plan purchased in advance (current pricing for our plan is $9.95/ Mo. but there is a $7.95/ Mo. plan for 3 Movies per Month). If you’re a movie goer, I highly recommend it, it is cheaper than an average single ticket nationwide (estimated at $9.27 for 2018). My alternative advice would be to seek out cheaply priced matinees, as most movie theatres will offer discounted tickets and even free or cheap concessions certain days and times. Lastly, a Redbox movie (get a free night’s DVD rental by signing up for Redbox Perks unsubscribe anytime, but plan ahead, the discount code may take a day or longer to recieve) or anything free online can also fit the bill, just set the stage right with popcorn, candy (and maybe a blanket fort!). As long as there’s snuggling, and a post movie discussion the movie date will be a success!
Cost- $0-$20 per couple / month
Dinner out (in)
We started this one when we first began budgeting. We found ourselves really frustrated by not having money to go out to a nice dinner. I decided to surprise Mr. SS and cooked an Asian style meal, complete with spring rolls and a fancy cocktail. I then made a cute menu complete with the “restaurant” name and wrote out the courses I was serving. I set a table outside, with candles and flowers and nice music, and told him to dress up, because we were going out. It was so much fun to “play pretend” like that, and we are very much due for this experience again. Yes, it’s just cooking at home, but the little details make it special. And dressing up might be part of the magic- I’m not sure this would be as cool in sweatpants.
Free Music Events
When I say that our little town loves live music, I really mean it. The smallest hallway basement bar will have an act that comes play at 9pm. On any given night there are probably at least 3 bands playing in town. On a Thurs., Friday, or Saturday that number might be as high as 12. There is live music every Thursday at the docks, there’s the Riverside concert series, and when the city tried to pass a noise ordinance that would limit these events the town rallied like never before. Our city hosts the largest free outdoor music festival in NY state (coming up next weekend!). We go to these a lot. It’s fun and the cost is actually nothing, minus the sunscreen and bug spray without which this can be pretty miserable. The same actually goes for most community events, pumpkinfest, summer time jam, springfest, tree-lighting ceremonies whatever your town calls it, there’s often a plethora of free community events to choose from. Check your local library, community cork boards and your town’s local paper for more info. Then pack a snack and enjoy!
There is a connection between living intentionally and giving back. We didn’t start volunteering as a means for cheap dates, but it has since become that as well. In the past year we’ve offered our expertise and equipment running amplified sound for an Easter brunch, volunteered for a costume pantry (like a food pantry, but donates costumes for Halloween), worked the information booth at the aforementioned music festival, guided people for the Reindeer Run (a 5k for charity) worked a day at a vegan animal sanctuary and did grounds-keeping for “I love my parks” day. All of these are a good time, help out the community and we enjoy doing these together. Additionally, most of these come with some food, coffee, pizza, free swag, tshirts, doughnuts, etc. It’s also a good opportunity to meet new people.
Cost +$5 (you’ll end up with a free meal, coffee, or shirt, so this one ends up being a cost positive!)
Or a hike or a bike ride. We go on one at least once a week, and have some of our best conversations walking in nature, holding hands or dipping our toes in the stream. Or running from snakes (common enemies and adrenaline do a lot to strengthen a bond). It gives us a chance to observe the passing seasons, and the flora and fauna of this state remind us both of our childhood homes.
Ok, to be honest it’s been a while since we’ve been on a picnic. But Mr. SS holds an Americana fantasy about picnics and a deep love for sandwiches. In fact I’m going to let him develop this paragraph further…
Mr. SS: I don’t know, I grew up in a rural area of West Virginia without much to do but wander in the woods. When I got old enough to drive a car, we…drove around (exciting I know). Growing up poor meant packing a lunch of PB&J or something similar was a must. There’s nothing like a long hike, or day exploring (“Wonder where that road goes? Well we’ve got a ¼ tank of gas let’s find out!”) to make a soggy sat-on sandwich taste like luxury. So, at some point in my formative years, I discovered packing snacks and sandwiches, a little sweet tea or lemonade, and a blanket made the whole thing come together. It gave the wander a purpose and a name. We weren’t “Screwing around” we were “Going on a picnic!”.
Mrs. SS: Ok… This felt restrained and well worded. When he talks about picnics his eyes glaze over and he says the word “Sandwiches!” at least 25 times.
I love brunch! It’s a luxurious, relaxing meal that’s very existence indicates free time and good sleep. I’m also intensely partial to avocado toast and bagels, so avocado bagels are our go-to. This happens to be my favorite thing to eat. Followed with champagne, my favorite thing to drink, it just doesn’t get better. We brunch every weekend if we have time. It’s a great way to start the day. I know what you’re thinking “Champagne?! Well that sounds pricey” it turns out there are a decent number of Spanish cavas or California Sparkling wines for as low as $6 a bottle mix it with a $0.60 pint of OJ from the corner store and you’re living the good life!
We are very excited to get started on this long list of dates. We need some quality time together and now that things are slowing down this should be easy to accommodate. Do you have any other frugal date ideas to add to this list?