“I’ve probably spent tens of thousands of dollars on you throughout the years,” Nick said to me shortly after we got engaged. “And every penny was worth it.”

As sweet as this statement my now-husband made was, it made me wonder: why is dating so dang expensive?! As much as I love dating my husband and going on adventures with him, after being together for almost 10 years, I can only imagine how much money we’ve spent on dates throughout the years. Not that that money isn’t worth it – but now that we’re buckling down on paying off debt and saving for a home, we’ve been trying to find intentional, consistent ways to spend time together without breaking the bank. So if you’re in the same boat, this post is for you! I’ve compiled a few of my favorite budget-friendly date ideas that we absolutely LOVE – and I hope you will, too!

1. One of my favorite dates was Nick’s idea – we each got a couple of dollars and went to the dollar store. We had to choose and buy three things that we thought represented the other person and tell them why we chose each object. It was so much fun to see what each of us chose! I still remember one of the objects that Nick chose that ended up being SO meaningful – he bought a little plastic microphone and told me that it reminded him of me because of my soothing voice and encouraging words. Yes… I cried.

2. Around Christmas, Nick and I love to buy some hot chocolate and drive around local neighborhoods in search of the best Christmas lights (while listening to Christmas music, of course!). In 2017 we stumbled across the BEST house that literally had a radio station that played songs that they had coordinated their lights to. SO MUCH FUN! Another year, we stumbled across a house that had SO many lights that were going SO crazy that their neighbor’s dog was literally sitting and staring for a solid ten minutes. Then we came back about a week later, and there the dog was AGAIN, in the same spot, staring at the house. You never know what you’ll find!

3. As a summer alternative to our Christmas date, Nick and I will either buy smoothies or take popsicles on a walk around our neighborhood (we live in a small town that’s soooo much fun to walk around!)

4. One of our new favorite dates is candle making! Believe it or not, it’s actually NOT that expensive (though maybe slightly more than five dollars!) and actually yields something that you can use around your home! We like to save glass jars from foods we eat (pasta sauce, salsa, and pickle jars are our go-to’s!) to cut down on the cost, then buy the wax and wicks from Amazon (click here for wax, click here for wicks!). If you want to get extra fancy, you can even buy some scents to put in! (Click here for some of our favorites!). If you want to make your candle wax a different color, cut off a small piece of colored crayon and throw it into the wax while it’s being melted!

5. Another new favorite date for us is bread making. All of the ingredients are soooo cheap, and really, it’s not that hard (we like to bake while we watch movies!). It’s something fun you can eat or give away (we started this date habit while eating low carb – whoops!!).

6. MoviePass is our NEWEST favorite thing!! Have you heard of it? It’s basically the Netflix of the movie theatre world. You buy a subscription, pay a certain amount of money per month (I think it’s $9.95 right now, but they run deals on the regular!) and then you can go see a movie a day. Literally. Any theatre, any movie, any day. Not like anyone really has the time to see a movie a day, but if you do the math and commit to seeing at least two movies a month – you’ll have two budget-friendly dates a month that are already pre-paid for!! For us, this was worth it, because we have trouble leaving the house (home bodies right here!) and this is a good motivation to go do something outside of the house a few times a month!

7. Volunteer or serve together. While this might sound like kind of a weird date idea, it’s (typically) totally free and lets you get outside of yourself a little bit. Whether it’s serving together at a soup kitchen, putting together care packages for people, or doing yard work for a neighbor or grandparent, serving is a great way to form a connection with someone and lets you love on someone else in the process! This is one we have a goal to incorporate more of into our lives within the next couple of months!