Date Night on a Dime


Chad and me pic


I LOVE date night! We are foodies, and enjoy trying new restaurants and seasonal specials. However, with three kids, a mortgage, and other expenses, Chad and I have to be careful balancing this in our budget. So here are a few frugal ideas that have helped us continue our tradition of a regular couple’s outing:

  • Go out for breakfast or lunch instead. The overall cost will be less, and many upscale restaurants offer meals at this time of day, so couples can visit new restaurants without breaking the budget.
  • When going out for dinner, skip or limit alcoholic drinks. Adding a few drinks greatly increases the bill by the end of the night.
  • Instead of a meal, try going out for a few drinks and appetizers. This is a fun alternative and usually combines well with other outings.
  • Look for opportunities and adventure in your area! A few years ago, we found a cocktail hour at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. We received free admission, bought a few glasses of wine, sampled the complimentary hors d’oeuvre (Thank goodness for spell check!), and spent an hour or so enjoying the art work while listening to a talented classical pianist.
  • Try a stay at home date! Sometimes we purchase some of our favorite meat, cheese, and wine, and just enjoy hanging out together at home.

What are some of your fun, yet affordable outings?


Are you Married to the World’s Cheapest Man?


I used to think my husband, Chad, was the cheapest man on earth.  The first summer after our wedding, we were renting a run-down apartment while saving a down payment to purchase our first home.  This was an upstairs apartment in late July, and summer’s heat had arrived!  We had an old window air conditioner unit for our bedroom, but Chad refused to run it…too expensive.  I had just returned from my job, packing religious supplies (in another home with no air conditioning).  I had reached the point that happens every summer where I just couldn’t cool down.  I wouldn’t be able to sleep without the air conditioning, so I finally demanded that we chill the room.  His reply was priceless, “OK, we’ll run it for ten minutes.”

Gifts were another area where we have laughed and grown as a couple.  I’ll admit that I have poor judgement for purchasing gifts and have since learned that I should stick to items available at Cabela’s, Gander Mountain, or our local outdoor supply stores.  My favorite gift faux pas was what we now refer to as the “Pirates of the Caribbean on Broadway” stage prop (as pictured below).  I thought it would make a nice conversation piece for our wine cellar.  Hubby just thought it was weird!   Chad’s frugal nature, of course, extended into gift giving, clothing in this case.  I love to wear sweat pants.  I would consider wearing them every day if I could get away with it.  Our first Christmas, I was thrilled to receive a new pair, in hunter green, a color I didn’t have.  I held them up to take a look, and the first thing I noticed was that one pant leg was six inches longer than the other.  I stared at the discrepancy and looked over at my husband.  He just shook his head and said, “Oh, they were on sale.”

While we have laughs at Chad’s expense, I know I married a keeper.  While sometimes his high level of frugality causes frustration and disagreements, I see how far sacrifice has taken us.  I still debate and argue for things I feel strongly about purchasing or doing (date night is important to me), and most of the time, we find compromise.  I married a man who puts the financial care of his family above all else.  He considers paying the bills, putting food on the table, and giving to charity a matter of honor.  He’s also disciplined enough to pay himself first because he refuses to be a burden in retirement.  Finally, I see those financial lessons passed on to my kids, a lesson that will take them far as adults.