We’ve been married 6 years now, and in that time I can tell you with 100% certainty that the hubs and I have been on more dates as a married couple than when we were dating and engaged.
Now, we don’t claim to be normal (and those of you that have gotten to know us know that we’re certifiable) but our dating habits are due to several factors:
- Our 2-year long-distance dating relationship
- We were also still in high school when we dated
- Getting married when we were 19
- Knowing that getting married young was HARD, and that we needed to make dating each other a priority
Even though the way in which we dated/got engaged/got married was a little different, I am thankful for it because it allowed us to really get to know each other via calls, letters, and emails, and it also saved us a ton of money on dates.
And now that we’re married, we get to really enjoy dating without all of the pressure. We already know each other, and we’ve already impressed each other enough to get married, so when date night rolls around, we can just have fun and connect. We can enjoy good food without worrying about what the other person will think, and if the mood suits, we can just hang out in sweat with Chinese food and Netflix.
As long as we’re having fun, it’s all good.
While “Netflix and Chill” is all good for an at-home date, what I want to challenge you with today is dressing up, getting out of the house, and going on an actual, honest-to-goodness DATE. Like when you were in high school. Or college. Or a young professional.
Whenever it was you dated, think back to the amount of effort (not money!) you put into going on a date: What did you wear? Did you allow yourself some time to get made-up and dressed? Guys, did you put some effort into planning the date?
You guys, I get it: marriage is hard even on the best days, so planning an out-of-the-house date can seem like a little bit much when all you can do is keep treading water. So, for a moment, put the money out of your mind (we’ll talk about how to save money on your outside date in a minute) and think about the last time you really connected with your spouse while you were dating.
What were you doing?
What was the weather like?
What city were you in?
What did you eat?
You don’t have to recreate that date, but envisioning it when planning a date with your spouse can really set the tone for the whole evening.
Now, plan it.
Whether you do or your spouse does, I challenge you to plan an out-of-the-house, get-dressed-up date. With expectations. And high hopes.
Said date can be on Friday, or it can be in a month to give you more time to save money/plan/get an outfit, but the date needs to get you EXCITED!
Just plan it, and plan it today.
Now that you know your task for today, let’s talk about some ways to save:
One of the best things about the internet is the ability to get almost anything at a discount, including restaurant gift cards. When the hubs and I go to a restaurant for a date, there are 3 main strategies that we use:
- Restaurant.com: If you’re not already familiar, Restaurant.com offers huge discounts on gift cards to restaurants in your area. Think, $25 for $10, which is pretty awesome. To find out what restaurants in your area participate, head to Restaurant.com and enter your zipcode. Then, save!
- Raise.com: If Restaurant.com fails to excite, then there’s always Raise.com for discounted restaurant gift cards. Where Restaurant.com tends to have smaller, boutique restaurants in it’s roster of savings, Raise.com has percentage discounted gift cards to chain restaurants for anywhere from 3% – 30% off. Sounds like a win to me.
- Happy Hour: Finally, if you’re short on time, or can go on your date with some flexibility, happy hour is a great way to save. Half-price appetizers, discounted drinks, and of course dessert can all be had for less than the cost of a single meal.
We all love a good movie. After all, they bring back nostalgic feelings, and sitting in the dark crammed next to your spouse is kind of awesome too. Here are my recommendations for saving on movies:
- Use A Student Discount: Is one of you a student? Then use it! Purchase tickets and flash your student ID for instant savings.
- Go To a Matinee: Afternoon movie theater prices can be 1/3 of the normal nighttime price, so if your schedule allows, go to a movie during the day.
- Buy At The Box Office: Online sites, such as Fandango, charge a “Convenience Fee” of $1-$2 per ticket. Buy your tickets at the theater to reduce those fees to $0
- Skip 3D and IMAX: Premium theater screens and eye-wear come at a premium price, and truth be told, aren’t that great. Save money and skip the flashy extras.
- Buy Discounted Gift Cards: Again, Raise.com offers movie theater gift cares at 3% to 30% off. Hit them up first, then buy afternoon tickets at the box office for the most savings.
Dinner and a movie is fun, but what about more hands-on opportunities?
Fear not, because Groupon and Living Social put rock climbing, wine tasting, yoga, massages, bartending/cooking classes and more right at your fingertips – and as much as 75% off. Just remember to read the fine print before you buy, and you’ll be able to reap substantial savings.
Have a local art exhibit or museum you’ve been dying to check out? Living Social and Groupon both offer “Local Deals’ sections that contain a huge variety of local tickets at big discounts that could save you hundreds, depending upon the activity.
No out-of-the-house date is complete without a great outfit, right? Check out Gilt.com (get your free $20 credit here) Zulily, or ModCloth for great deals on designer duds, or just the right accessory.
Don’t have time to shop online or in-store? Schedule a Stitch Fix and ask your stylist for something smashing for your date!