3 Of The Best Date Ideas That Cost $25 Or Less

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3 Cheap Date Ideas For Things To Do As A Couple That Will Help You Stay In Love (On A Budget)

It's the gesture that matters; not the cost.

Are financial worries stressing you and your partner out? Is life beginning to seem like an unending list of bills and obligations?

If your relationship is falling somewhere on the to-do and starting to feel like an obligation or habit, it's all too easy to become forgetful: You forget why you love this person, or how much fun you have together, or even what it’s like to just be with your best friend.

So what can you do to stay in love and keep the romance alive, even though you don't have a lot of money to spare right now?

There’s an easy fix: Begin courting each other again with cheap date ideas you can do on a budget!

RELATED: 26 Fun (But Cheap!) Date Ideas For When You're Trying To Save Money

But, first, there’s one must-have rule: When you go out for relaxation and fun, you must not bring up the money or relationship problems that need resolving.

If you do, even your good date ideas will immediately be something neither of you wants to repeat, defeating the purpose. Issues that need discussing must be scheduled for a different, separate time. And then keep that date!

Problem-solving dates and fun dates both need regular — but separate — commitments from both of you.

So, here are some cute date ideas straight out of my marriage to Jim. We enjoyed a loving, fun relationship until his passing a few years ago. We had regular problem-solving dates as needed, too, to keep our accounts with each other clear, so that our fun dates were really fun!

Being financially stressed is no excuse to skip fun dates! When you’re under financial or any other kind of ongoing stress, you need breaks to leave the stress behind and just enjoy each other for a while.

And I know from experience that all it takes is $25 or less to create a great date experience.

Here are some of the best cheap date ideas for things to do as a couple under $25 that will help you stay in love for the long-haul — even when you're on a budget.

1. Look for dinner and movie deals

Look for two-for-one coupons for a meal. It could be breakfast at a diner, or a spaghetti or burger dinner. Add a matinee movie and you’ve got a great 3-4 hour escape to remember that you’re a team and, together, you will eventually pull out of the financial pit.

2. Play free games in fun places

Do you enjoy table games? Take one of your grocery totes and fill it with games that can be played by two people, like Gin Rummy, Yahtzee!, or a travel-sized game of Scrabble.

Throw in an old tablecloth to cover the picnic table at your local park. On rainy days, game tables can be found in a mall food court or your local library.

RELATED: 14 Things For Couples To Do When You're Bored At Home (That Can Actually Save Your Marriage)

3. Plan a 'mystery date' for one another

One of our favorite cheap date ideas was a 'mystery date.' We each kept a file on the other where we collected newspaper clippings or ads about places we thought the other would enjoy and make creative date ideas.

One time, Jim let me know that our next date was a surprise. He told me to wear casual clothes, but to take a dressy outfit to change into.

We drove to an ocean-side restaurant where we enjoyed breakfast on their deck. Then he took me to a quilting store with instructions to take my time. He relaxed in the car with a newspaper and crossword puzzle book.

We then wandered around a huge outdoor food court in West Hollywood choosing diverse, unusual food items for lunch, ducked into restrooms at a coffee shop to change into dressier clothes, and ended the day at a free, live street performance in Hollywood.

Regular dates were once per week. These mystery dates happened perhaps every four to six months. They were very special occasions! The things chosen to do were not nearly as important as the effort and planning that went into delivering the day as a love-gift.

Now that Jim has passed on, these memories are a few of my favorites!

Can you imagine how loved your partner will feel after having an entire day planned around his or her interests? Are you ready to start collecting ideas for a mystery date?

Regular dates restore the love balance to a relationship that may be dragging from too much responsibility. Regular dates cure or prevent the blahs. Mystery dates infuse a giant dose of loving directly into your partner’s heart. So, get your calendars out and plan a date!

RELATED: 7 Cheap, Cozy Fall Date Ideas For Couples

Nancy Landrum has been teaching relationship skills to couples for more than 25 years and is the author of How to Stay Married & Love It! Solving the Puzzle of a SoulMate Marriage, which is full of practical strategies to create and sustain a loving, lasting relationship. If you'd like a phone call from Nancy, click here to schedule it on her calendar.

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This article was originally published at Nancy Landrum. Reprinted with permission from the author.