Friday, January 29, 2010

Frugal Fridays: Date Night On the "Cheap"

We are starting a new post topic here on "Mom with Coupons" called "Frugal Fridays". Each Friday we will try to discuss a topic on being frugal, watching your pennies, saving money, or whatever you want to call it.

Since Valentine's Day is coming up, a lot of people are thinking about having a Date Night with their sweetie, so the topic has came up lately on how to do so on a tight budget. Even if you aren't on a "tight budget" but you are simply watching your dollars, you can still have a Date Night that is enjoyable. Below are a few ideas that I hope get your mind thinking on how to have a special night but not blow too much money.
1. If you are thinking of a "Valentine's Date", one big way to possibly save is to go celebrate Valentines the weekend before or after the actual holiday. Lots of restaurants may raise their rates for Valentine Weekend, plus the crowds are horrible. Might not save money by going the week before or week after, but you will save time, and in my book, time is money. I would rather spend an hour doing something else fun, then sitting on a hard bench outside a restaurant waiting on my number to be called.

2. Dinner and a Movie - probably the most common "Date Night" there is. These days, going to a movie can easily break the bank with the prices of movie tickets. Then, if you take a trip to the concession stand you might need to take out a second mortgage! But there are ways of course to save money and still enjoy a good movie.
Want to take in the latest and greatest movie? Consider going to an early lunch and then a matinee. Most all cinemas are 50-75% cheaper if you go to a movie that starts before 6:00. Not to mention, going to a restaurant for lunch is usually cheaper than the full price dinner menu as well.
Some towns have what I call the "cheap cinema". That is normally one of the older cinemas in your town that don't have the stadium seating with the nice reclining chairs and the theatre itself is usually smaller. We have one here in Ladson and I love it. Why do I want to pay like $9.00 to go to a "new and improved" theatre when I can watch the same exact movie for $4.00 in the "older cinema". Check out your town to see if you have one, you might be surprised.
Or, if you are not one that has to see the latest and greatest, consider seeing if the kids can stay with the grandparents or a friend and rent a movie and stay in. No one to watch the kids, then rent the kids their own movie and give them a big bowl of popcorn and let them watch their "own movie" in their room while the grownups watch their own movie. These days most grocery stores, drug stores and even some gas stations have Blockbuster, Redbox or other similar type machines that you can rent a new release movie for $1.00! You can't beat that! And, if you sign up on their websites you regularly get codes to rent free movies!
Another way to save on dinner is to purchase gift certificates on line at You can normally get a $25.00 gift certificate for $5.00. Some restrictions apply but they are well worth the price.
3. "Stroll through the Park". We are lucky here in that Charleston has nice waterfront parks and other areas that nice walks can be taken, day or night. One of my favorite places to go (weather permitting) is to take a stroll at night on our Waterfront Park and pier at night. They have nice swings under canopies that you can relax on, and we have done that for hours before. Doesn't cost a thing and you would be surprised how much the two of you can actually talk, or just enjoy each other's company in silence, without your kids interrupting every 10 minutes.
If you do go stroll a park during the day, why not pack a picnic lunch and "cop a squat" (as Julia Robert's said in Pretty Woman) under a tree and have a nice lunch. I am not a big sandwich eater at home, but sandwiches always seem to taste better during a picnic. :o)
4. Day Trip to No Where. May cost you a little in gas, but why not just get in the car and drive. Maybe there is a flea market up the interstate you always wanted to go to but never took the time to stop. Or you saw a little antique store one day and again, never took the time to stop. Take the time and just go sightseeing in or around your area. Not sure where to go? Everytime you get to an intersection or an exit off an interstate, flip a quarter - heads you go right, tails you go left, or heads you get off on the exit, tails you keep on going. You never know where you may end up or what great little flea markets, produce stands or other little roadside interest you may find. Even if you don't find anything new, you will be surprised at the conversations you can have just driving around.
5. Ice Cream Parlor. I know what you are thinking, they are not called ice cream parlors anymore. But if you dont want to spend money on going out to eat, eat at home and then go out for a dessert somewhere. It does not have to be fancy or expensive. Go to McDonald's and get a soft serve cone to share, go to Shoney's and split a Hot Fudge Sundae, Sonic's Drive Thrus usually always have some type of 99 cent "Sundae" or Banana Split on their menu.
6. Go "Window Shopping". No, I don't mean your hubbie or better half has to walk you around the mall and carry your purse for you! Go shopping for things you have no intention to even buy. We have been known on a Saturday when we have time to ourselves, to just go walking through various furniture stores and look at everything to see what we like, what we agree on, what we don't agree on, etc. We have also been and spent hours walking through Modular Homes and even RVs. Don't cost nothing to look - right?
These are just a few ideas to help you get your ideas flowing. Whatever you do, just make it fun.
Happy Frugaling!

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