A happy couple in love with painted smiley

Dinner and a movie? Cha-ching!

Dinner and drinks? Cha-ching!

Dinner and dancing? Cha-ching!

The cost of traditional date night ideas like these can add up (and get old) fast. Also, if you’re like many people, money may be tight right now. So, let’s get creative and delight your partner with an evening that doesn’t break the bank.

Many unique date night ideas don’t require spending much money. Challenge yourself to spice it up with a date night challenge that blends a fun date idea with a healthy budget.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Date night challenge: spend $0

Try one of these date night plans that don’t cost a dime.

  • See a free concert. A quick search for “free concerts near me” will return multiple results. Events like Jazz on the Green and Shakespeare in the Park tour cities each year, both of which are completely free.
  • Go on a scenic drive. Driving around town on a nice night is peaceful and relaxing. Roll all the windows down and rock out to some of your favorite tunes, or keep it mellow and simply enjoy each other’s company and conversation. It’s amazing what you’ll discover — outside and about each other — when you drive with no destination.
  • Host a game night. Call over some of your friends and other couples you may know. Ask them to bring a game and some snacks, team up and have a fun night of friendly competition.

You could also people-watch at a local park or volunteer at a local soup kitchen — basically, you can spend time together in plenty of ways without getting bored or spending a penny.

Date night challenge: spend $10

For less than the price of two lattes at Starbucks, you can enjoy a number of unique date nights.

  • Go on a $10 shopping spree. Pick a store like Target, Walmart or the Dollar Store, where you can find several items for under $10. Split up and take 20 minutes to find items the other will either love or get a laugh from, and then go home or to a park to exchange and enjoy them together.
  • Try fishing. Grab $10 to buy fishing bait and rent a couple of fishing poles. Then, find a local catch-and-release site and enjoy some serene time together on the side of a pond or lake.
  • Go to a farmer’s market. Technically, this idea could also be free, but budgeting $10 allows you to enjoy any tasty treats you might want to try. It’s hard to go to farmer’s markets and resist fresh apples or fresh-squeezed lemonade!
  • Attend trivia night. Many local bars and restaurants offer themed trivia nights. Find one that interests you, buy a pint and see who can nab more points. If you win, you might even score a gift card.

Date night challenge: spend $30

If you’re able to spend up to $30 on your date night, you can surprise your partner with some out-of-the-box activities.

  • Go stargazing. Take out a book from your local library on constellations, then go buy a bottle of your favorite wine and some cheese. Pack a blanket and head to an open spot on a clear night to enjoy some quality time together. Whoever can find the Big Dipper first wins!
  • Whip up something tasty. If you’re both cooking newbies, you could bond over a cooking class video on YouTube. Pick an interesting recipe online or from a local restaurant — but nothing too complex. You can buy the ingredients ahead of time or together, and then dive in. Pro tip: Give yourself a $30 budget, but stretch those dollars with coupons and cash back offers. Download the Coupons.com app (or visit our website) and peruse offers that’ll give you cash back on your purchases for little effort. This might enable you to get premium ice cream for dessert instead of splitting that day-old, half-price donut from the bakery section. In fact, maybe set another challenge: Try to spend just $30, but see if you can stretch that to $40 by using $10 worth of money-saving offers.
  • Sip and paint. Wine and painting classes have been popular for some time. You could try finding one near you in your budget, or you could buy two canvases, some paint and a bottle of wine and enjoy the Joy of Painting together with a free Bob Ross tutorial on YouTube.

While this list barely scratches the surface of budget-friendly date night ideas, hopefully, it serves as a good starting point. In the end, of course, having fun connecting with your partner shouldn’t require money — a little or a lot — only each other.