Category Archives: Dating

Five fanciful fads for frugal fun

Frugal fun that doesn’t involve the TV

Frugal fun… without TV?! Yes, it’s possible! 🙂

Back a decade ago, our idea of frugal fun was watching our favorite shows on cable TV. After the cable no-service tech royally ticked me off, I cut the cable and went to satellite. We loved our DVR, and recorded CSI, History Channel and Discovery Channel shows, and cartoons for the kids.

However, we found that with two small (at the time) children, and full-time jobs, we would fall asleep trying to watch our favorite shows on the DVR. We were so exhausted with work and family, we had no time for frugal fun TV. After a few months, I asked R, “Why are we paying for this again?”

So, we cancelled satellite. That was at least nine years ago. Our family is living proof that one doesn’t need to have the TV on all the time. Yes, our children have survived without TV. 🙂

We have a 46” Sony HDTV, but we don’t even have rabbit ears. We use the TV for DVD’s which we check out free at the library. We also play on our game consoles; we buy used games for cheap (less than $10, sometimes less than $5). Sometimes, I use the TV with the iPad or MacBook Pro as a giant computer monitor, so we can look at photos or YouTube videos.

However, this article involves having frugal fun WITHOUT the TV. So, let’s begin….

  1. Read – Reading… the non-TV thing you can do with your eyes. Now, if you don’t have any of those old-timey things called “books”, you can also read tablets or computers. Find a good novel for a relaxing frugal fun get-away. Pick up a non-fiction and learn something new.
  2. Write – Hand-write a thank you note. Send a birthday card to a relative. Put a recipe on an index card. Even type out a quick Facebook post to let people know that you went “old school” and read a “book”.
  3. Eat – Yes, one of my favorite frugal fun things to do. 🙂 Clean out your fridge, and get rid of left-overs… by eating them. R often prepares veggies and fruits by washing and pre-cutting them. She puts them in air-tight bowls in the fridge or on the table, so it’s easy to snack on something healthy.
  4. Take a hike – Or a walk, or gallivant about the neighborhood. Make a family excursion of it. Grab the pets, and get the spouse and kids off the couch for frugal fun, fresh air, and easy exercise.
  5. Nap – Now that you have overcome your couch potato tendencies by going for a walk, return home for a short rest. Frugal fun can even be had while “doing nothing”. Set your timer and take a 20-30 minute power nap. Awaken recharged, refreshed, and ready to take on the rest of your day.

How about you? What is one of your favorite things to do for frugal fun?

25 Date Night Ideas for Under 25 Dollars

Date Night doesn’t have to break the budget!

Date night is not just for engaged couples or newlyweds. R & I have been married for nearly 16 years. Like any couple, we have cycles of up and down, closeness and distance, passion and apathy.

In an effort to help strengthen the ties that bind, I want to begin having date night more regularly.

When we were newlyweds, we had time and money. We had two incomes, the economy was much better, and we had more discretionary funds. We did everything together. Date night was often weekend getaways. Date night was sometimes dinner at a nice restaurant. She worked for an airline, and I had a company car; sometimes, we would travel domestically. We went camping, traveled with friends, went to the beach, or went to visit family. Date night might be the movies, bike riding, or hanging out with friends.

Now, we have two children and one income. The older daughter is VERY athletic, and attends public high school, in part so she can participate in organized sports. At school, in addition to JROTC, she is on the varsity basketball team, varsity soccer, and cross country. In the off-season, she is on a travel basketball team. Her coaches expect that she will get offered scholarships for basketball, as she LOVES the game and is an

Our younger daughter is homeschooled, so her schedule is a little more flexible. Still though, she is in Children’s Choir, with practice every Wednesday night. My wife works in the church nursery every Sunday. I have my day job during the week. Some Friday nights and weekends, I have events for my small business. I’m a DJ, and do 30-35 weddings annually, plus parties, school dances, corporate events, etc.

Why do I mention this (besides the fact that I am proud of our daughters)?

Because, life gets in the way of living. Date night is now going to Target, Lowe’s, or Wal-Mart. Often we are there for something the kids need. We have no family close by, so we can’t stay gone for long. Having kids is a blessing, but they are a big responsibility. Extracurricular activities take time and money. The need to make additional income for food, glasses, clothes, school supplies, and health insurance puts restrictions on the ability for the two of us to “get away” for date night.

In an effort to balance our desire for date night with the realities of our budget, I’m looking at more frequent, less expensive date nights. This is part of the “personal” of personal finance.

Since we are on a budget, I set a ‘soft” limit on most date nights to $25. There are many options for a date night on a budget. You just need a little bit of extra creativity and maybe some planning. Following are 25 ideas for date nights for 25 dollars or less.

Obviously, not all of these date nights will work for everyone. For example, we used to live one hour from the beach. Now, we live at least six hours from a beach, and fuel prices have at least doubled. There is no way we can visit a beach for less than $25 now, unless someone else is driving and paying for the gas!

25 Date Nights for Under $25

  1. Picnic – at the park, at the lake, even your living room floor if the weather is bad… one of our favorite dates, even before we were married
  2. Visit the beach – again, this used to be a favorite date, but we can’t drive there for $25 now
  3. Local arts and crafts festival – one of her favorite activities
  4. Visit a museum on half-priced or free day – A local art museum has a free Thursday night once a month. Perfect for date night! Also, if you have a membership to a local museum, often that membership is honored by other museums.
  5. Hike in a state park – it doesn’t have to be a long hike/camping trip… just watch out for poison ivy!
  6. Find a recipe, buy the ingredients, and bake something together. Invite another couple over to share your date night.
  7. Visit a free concert at a car show – downtown, at a high school, or in a park, this date night is popular during the summer in many cities
  8. Go to a matinee movie, “movie night in the park”, or have a double-date night with another couple at a drive-in movie
  9. Go to your local zoo – We haven’t lived in Houston for years, but the Houston Zoo used to be very inexpensive, due to corporate sponsors. They also had free days during the year.
  10. Libraries sometimes have drama night, where people will dress up and act out parts from a book. Another idea is a high school drama department play or show.
  11. “Taste of your city” – Local restaurants invade downtown and showcase their offerings.
  12. Groupon restaurant deal
  13. Volunteer in your community – the animal shelter, the nursing home, the hospital
  14. Take (or teach) a class at the library – art, beekeeping, dance, guitar
  15. Visit a local fair or circus (think Shriner’s, not Cirque du Soleil)
  16. Model clothing for each other at the mall… free date night, if you don’t buy anything
  17. Go shopping at a thrift shop or resale store – Goodwill, Salvation Army, ReStore, etc
  18. Do a home improvement project together – this date night could last several nights
  19. DIY decorations for your home – get an idea book at the library or look at Pinterest
  20. Visit a new neighborhood and look at model houses – get more ideas for your home improvement or decoration projects
  21. Have breakfast or lunch at a small diner or local “hole-in-the wall” café – ask the waitress what she recommends
  22. Eat at home, then go to a four-star restaurant… for dessert only 🙂
  23. Make dessert together, and invite another couple to bring ice cream
  24. Go meet the ice cream truck and buy ice cream for the neighborhood kids
  25. Use the $25 for gas and go on a day trip (just bring a lunch)

WHAT you do is less important than WHO you are doing it with. You are going on a date night to be together, as friends and lovers. Leave behind the distractions of work, bills, homework, business, yard work, and family responsibilities. Since your little ones aren’t there to be tugging on you, and your teens aren’t there to get grossed out… kiss, hold hands, look  into each other’s eyes.

Most importantly, during date night, put away your phone. Focus on each other. Be present, be engaged, be in the moment of date night with the one you love.