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10 Simple Ways to Save...

10 Simple Ways to Save Money on Date Night

Trying to think of fresh date night ideas that won't break the bank can be tricky. We found ten easy adjustments to make for your next date night, from staying in and cooking an intimate dinner to using Groupon. Prepare for your wallet to be fuller than ever!

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I feel so blessed to have found an amazing man who I love spending time with, and date night is one of my favorite weekly rituals. In fact, with the weather so gorgeous in the summertime, quite often Mike and I will go out for date nights more than once a week! Date night is a wonderful way to have some special one-on-one time with your sweetie and remember what it was like when the two of your first started dating and you walked around with butterflies constantly flitting around in your belly. {Mike still gives me butterflies!}

The downside to date night is that it can get pretty expensive! However, as two grad students on a tight budget, Mike and I have discovered some small ways to save money while still having a super fun and romantic time together. Here are some tips that help us save money on date night that I hope might help you, too!

1. Instead of dinner then a movie, try going to a movie first and then having dinner. Most movie theaters offer matinee prices, and a late-afternoon movie rather than a nighttime movie can save you a few bucks a pop. Over the course of a month or a year of movie outings, those few bucks add up!

2. Cook a romantic dinner at home and rent a movie to watch. Because I tend to cook tried-and-true, quick-and-easy recipes during the busy workweek, date night in is a fun time to try making a new recipe I’ve had my eye on. A recent favorite was turkey enchiladas updated with green chile enchilada sauce and bell pepper. And for movie rentals, Redbox charges only a dollar or so for a night’s rental {extra money-saving tip: there are one-time-use free-rental codes available online for most major retail chains that have Redbox kiosks}

3. Whether having date night in or out, an inexpensive bouquet of fresh flowers {I still get giddy whenever Mike surprises me with flowers!} is a guaranteed way to make the night feel special.

4. Going out to eat? Instead of ordering wine or beer at the restaurant, why not order water instead and have a glass of wine or beer when you get home? In college, my roommates and I had fun concocting homemade margaritas or Kahlua milkshakes or fruit-filled sangria. This can also be a way to tweak the ingredients of your drinks to be slightly healthier, and also to ensure that you don’t order one drink too many and then get behind the wheel when you shouldn’t.

5. Same goes for dessert — get more bang for your buck by making something to satisfy your sweet tooth at home rather than splurging on expensive dessert in a restaurant. I am a huge fan of Betty Crocker mix brownies, and I like to pop some in the oven when Mike and I get home from a nice dinner out — it only takes five minutes tops to pour the mix and water and oil in a bowl, crack in an egg or two, mix everything up and pour it into the baking pan. Then I curl up on the couch with my honey to watch a movie {maybe in my jammies with a glass of wine, too!} and in about half an hour the brownies are ready … just about the time I’m feeling ready for dessert.

6. If you do get dessert out somewhere — like, say, ice cream — why not split a medium size instead of getting two small sizes? For example, at our local ice cream shop the medium size is only about a dollar more than the small size, so getting one medium instead of two smalls saves a few dollars … which, like the matinee movie tickets, does add up over time!

7. You don’t need a restaurant for a special date night… at least, not in the summertime! Why not pack dinner in a cooler and go for a picnic? Some of my favorite date nights with Mike are when we go for a long walk on the trail beside the river, or along a grassy park where the fireflies gather.

8. A lot of restaurants, especially chain places, will occasionally offer gift card deals — most often we’ve seen them around holidays. As an incentive to buy their gift cards as gifts for people in your life, restaurants will throw in something extra for you — say, a free $10 gift card when you buy $50 worth of gift cards. If the restaurant is a place you go often, and the gift cards don’t expire, this can be a great deal for you to buy and then use yourself.

9. Google the restaurant to see if they have coupons available online — many do!

10. Be on the lookout for fun, alternative date-night ideas. Groupons are often terrific deals! In the past, Mike and I have gotten amazingly discounted deals for dates like dinner and a magic show, a murder mystery dinner, and an art museum.

Hope these tips help you savor date night while also saving a bit of money, too!

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