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  • Writer's pictureHayley Marcus

Under Budget: Date Night

I am someone who LOVES going out to dinner, and have since I was a kid. It is one of my love languages for sure, but a night out can be heavy on the wallet. I am a firm believer that date nights are crucial to a healthy relationship. Over the years, Brian and I have perfected date night without breaking the bank. The rule of thumb for a successful date night is simple: a meal and an activity. I will give you two of our go-to options for a date night that won’t have you feeling like you missed out on something more. One thing we put in place about two years ago was a date night jar. I went to TJ Maxx and found a coin jar that counts the change you put in. So any time we use cash and get loose change, it goes immediately into the jar. You would be SHOCKED at how quickly it adds up. Pick your target number and whenever the jar gets to it, DATE NIGHT TIME! For those with kids, remember to think about babysitters when thinking of this number.

We all get caught up in life and can easily forget to connect with each other. Ever heard someone say “the honeymoon phase is over”? Well it doesn’t have to in theory. What is the honeymoon phase? Remember the excitement and happiness that went into getting to know each other? Remember the smile when their name popped up on your phone? Remember buying a cute new outfit to impress? You can still feel that way years down the road. Date nights give you the chance to DATE each other again. They give you the chance to just connect and talk on a deeper level than the day-to-day chat. The last year and a half had a lot of us forget what it felt like to get ourselves ready. I personally forgot how much work went into making myself public presentable; but there is no better feeling then getting dolled up. Your confidence and overall mental health benefit from it. So honey, get in that shower and pick a cute outfit…because this is your sign to!

The At-Home Date Night:

Sometimes our busy lives make it difficult to plan a night OUT, but we all have to eat dinner right? A couple of years ago I bought us The Adventure Challenge, which was a book of random date ideas that went from arts and crafts at home to elaborate nights out. This book made me realize that I could get those warm and fuzzies even staying at home for the night. One non-negotiable for this option….get dolled up. Yes, hear me out. You may be at home, but treat this date night like any other. Go in your closet. Pick that outfit that makes you feel unstoppable. Get in that shower. Do your hair. Do your makeup. Do the damn thing!

If you are a cook like me, you’ll love picking a recipe that you wouldn’t normally have on your monthly rotation. If you aren’t a cook, pick your favorite restaurant and go pick it up! Sometimes takeout can be cheaper than a whole recipe so do whatever your heart desires (and your wallet can handle). If you need some cheap recipe options, check out the recipe section of the blog! A date night meal at home doesn’t mean you need filet mignon or lobster. We tend to lean toward Italian food in our house, so you can expect a type of pasta on our table. I suggest each of you pick one part of your meal to make yourselves. For us, I am the cook so the entrée is my jam and Brian is the dessert guy. This gives us both the chance to bring something to the table (pun intended) and invests us both into making the night special. Get your drinks of choice and enjoy the time together.

Now for the activity. My personal favorites are building a blanket/pillow fort in the living room for a movie or game night! There are plenty of free options for movies or you can rent one for as little as $3.99. For this portion of the night, feel free to change into comfy pajamas but keep your hair/makeup done! For game night, there are some apps on your phone you can download or you can go to Walmart/Five Below/Dollar Tree to pick up something fun to play. We love a good escape room game because it keeps us engaged and makes us work together. Do whatever you would enjoy (and also won’t kill each other while doing).

The Night-Out Date Night:

Yes you can do a night out under budget. The key to keeping the cost low….BYOB restaurants. The tab racks up when drinks are involved, so get on google and look for BYOB places near you! We love trying new BYOB places and have done a nice dinner under $75. If you live in New Jersey, some of our favorite spots are Prime 13 Steakhouse in Point Pleasant and Villagio Iccara in Yardville. Just by bringing your own drinks, you can save over $100.

An activity for date night can be as simple as a nice walk in a park. You don’t have to party like rockstars to have a good night. Other ideas could be a couple rounds of mini golf, bowling, or even the arcade. I am a huge fan of using Groupon to find activities for cheap. There are always great activities on there, so pick your budget and get to searching! It’s all about what you find fun as a couple. I love challenging our inner child and doing something we haven’t done in years. It makes things light and fun.

The moral of the story is to take the time to just reconnect. The point of a date night is to spend quality time together, and you know your relationships better than anyone. Make a list of all the date night ideas you would enjoy and just pick out of a hat. The spontaneity will keep things exciting and give you something to look forward to. Put reoccurring date nights on the calendar and stick to them. We all can easily talk ourselves out of doing things if our day was busy or hard, but even doing a date night at home will change how that day ends. Invest the time into each other and make your relationship a priority for a night. The difference this simple task makes in your life is astounding. I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!

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