Years ago, I envisioned that my husband and I would go out on weekly date nights once we had kids. Well, fast-forward to today, two children later, and we’re lucky if we can swing a night out once a month.
One of the big impediments to our social life as a couple: The cost of a traditional date night. When you add babysitting fees on top of bills for dinner and drinks, a night out can run at least $100.
However, I think we may soon start being able to go out more frequently. No, we didn’t come into some unexpected money. Rather, after talking with a number of other parents, I recently learned a strategy for cutting date-night costs that, in honor of Valentine’s Day, is today’s hint.
The trick: Don’t do dinner out. Rather, just go out for drinks, dessert or an inexpensive activity like a lecture. By skipping dinner out, and instead grabbing drinks at a bar or dessert at a restaurant, you’re cutting the dinner bill out of the date-night equation.
Here’s how this approach could work: You have dinner at home with your kids, and have the babysitter come around your kids’ bedtime. Then, you and your significant other go out to your dinnerless evening activity, saving money in the process.
The mom who I learned this strategy from notes that it can be relatively easy to get into restaurants when you’re looking for a 9 p.m. reservation and plan just to eat dessert. Plus, she says, grabbing cocktails at a local hot spot (or a local dive bar) can be a nice change from the usual routine.
Another mom I know says she and her husband often go to hear lectures for their date-night activity. Not only can lectures be less expensive than a dinner out, but they also give my friend and her significant other lots to chat about besides the children.
To be sure, there are a number of other ways to cut date-night costs, including “the dollar date” idea mentioned over at Cheapism, the coffee date idea featured at The Frugal Shopper blog and numerous strategies for lowering babysitting fees.
For instance, I’ve long been a fan of babysitting swaps, where friends trade babysitting services. You also can take advantage of drop-off play spots, where you leave your child for few hours of supervised play while you and your partner hit the town (here’s a nice Red Tricycle round-up of such options in the San Francisco area from blogger FrogMom).
In addition, when it comes to celebrating Valentine’s Day, you can save money by celebrating in the days ahead, or days after, February 14th, and date “nights” also can be cheaper if you go out in the afternoon rather than the evening. But if you want to have a traditional night out for less, the dinnerless option is a great trick to have in your date-night repertoire.
How do you go out on date nights for less?