During tough, financial times when money is tight, your life and family don’t have to suffer. Like many families around the country, my husband lost his job last year. We were really worried about finances and keeping our household afloat. He found another job, and our finances were spared. But it took a lot of work to keep our marriage going with the stress of our financial difficulties.

We took a long, hard look at our marriage and decided it wasn’t about money — it was about us. We’re back on our financial feet and our marriage is on solid ground. We keep it there with a promise to have monthly date nights (but we strive to have one a week). We also emphasize both family time and one-on-one time with our child. These date nights are not extravagant affairs with dinner and the theater. Oh no! Our activities are dirt cheap, or even free. Here are some ideas:

  • Geocaching: Use your smartphone to download a geocaching app. Using coordinates provided by other geocaching enthusiasts, track down little hidden containers (geocaches) outdoors, and share your experiences and finds online. Keep in mind, you are allowed to take a little token from the cache. But you should also leave a little item or treasure behind. Here are tips and guidelines.
  • Video Date: Use a video camera (or smartphone) and take turns asking each other questions. If it's just two people, save it for your children to watch later. Or include your children and save it for reminiscing later. Find sample questions here.
  • Learn Something: Museums aren't all art and history. For instance, our local museum had a free dinosaur exhibit and will soon have a free music exhibit.  What a great way to gain some knowledge and get out of the house. Find a museum near you and don't be afraid to look for deals. Call ahead to see if they offer discounts or have free days throughout the month.
  • War Zone: Pick up a few water guns in fun colors and head to your backyard or nearest park. Leave them empty to ensure fairness and then fill them up with water and Kool-Aid packets. Make sure you're wearing a white T-shirt so you can see who is the better shot!
  • Spouse Sleepover: If you had sleepovers as a child, then you remember how much fun they are! Who says they have to stop because you’re married. This woman put a creative twist on this childhood activity.
  • Dream House: Together, draw a floor plan of your dream house. This is a great way to find out new things about your partner. If you really get into this project, here’s a website to make a virtual plan room by room.
  • Putt Putt: Turn your backyard or house into a putt putt course. Use random items from around the house to make each level harder and harder like this dad did.
  • Campout: This is a little silly (and childhood fort-like), but hang sheets around your bed from ceiling to floor. Inside, hang some holiday lights, get some popcorn and flashlights. Great for telling ghost stories, playing games or other, um, activities.
  • Iron Chef: Pull some random ingredients out of your cupboard and fridge. Krazy Couponers are sure to have a stockpile, right?! You both make a dish from those same ingredients. Taste and choose a winner. If you need inspiration, try this site for ingredients and recipes.
  • Love Story: Together, sit down and write out the story of how you met. To make it extra fun, draw cartoons as well. Your kids (or future kids) will love reading it when they get older.
  • Float Boats: Make boats from random objects around the house. Fill up the tub or wading pool (or head to the lake or pond) and have a race. Find tips to make homemade boats.
  • Trip Planning: Download this app. Fill in the areas for your starting point and destination. The app finds cool things to do along the route!
  • Backyard Bowling: Convert the backyard into a bowling alley and let the games begin! Find cheap plans to build one here.

This has been a guest post by August from Granite Falls, NC
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Cheap Date: Oodles of Ideas for an Affordable Night Out (or In)