I’ve said it a million times before, date nights help keep marriages strong and healthy. But let’s face the facts here, date nights can get awfully pricey these days. Dinner, a movie, and don’t forget the cost of babysitting. It’s enough to make my cheap self want to forgo the date nights all together. Until I remember how much my husband and I absolutely need them.

We are on as tight of a budget as you can get, so we have had to get creative on our budgeting. Babysitting is the highest cost for us. With three rambunctious children, we have to shell out at least $12-$15 an hour. If we stay out on our dates longer than two or three hours, we could potentially send more on sitters than we did on dinner. To avoid this, we do a baby sitter swap. A good friend of ours and I trade services. One week I watch her bunch, and the next week, she watches mine. This obviously saves us 100% of babysitting costs. The problem, is that this is not always an option. When we do have to fork over the cash for a sitter, we do it judiciously. More often than not, we simply spend less time out. Instead of dinner and a movie, we will just go for the movie and eat dinner at home before we leave. It really is that simple, the longer you are out, the more it will cost.

Staying home for dinner is also a great way to save on the cost of dinner too. Eating at home and just going out for dessert is a great way to shave off some costs as well. One of our favorites, during the spring and summer months we pack a picnic. It’s a great way for us to get a free meal out of the house. Usually we find nice quiet spots where we can talk, and it’s most always more quiet than a restaurant.

Most big cities have lots of things that you could do for free. One of the best is the ability to walk and explore. Walking hand in hand with my husband is one of my all time favorite activities. Of course, most of these things might still cost you some money. We also have weeks where we just don’t feel like getting out around other people. We just want to spend time with each other. On those nights, we simply put the kids to bed early. Then we eat our dinner together, play a board game, or a video game. Occasionally we will rent a cheap movie from the Red Box. A candle lit quiet dinner, even at home, can go a long way in couple rejuvenation.

-Stephanie Wright

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