A Frugal Anniversary

Great Dates Under $1.50 a Pound

It’s easy to give an example of an inexpensive date in a one-to-two sentence blurb, but giving a full example might help to ease the frustrating decision making of the process. Plus, Valentine’s Day was a couple weeks back, meaning low-cost, low-pressure dates are back in fashion. Rejoice, dating types—you can now happily attempt a frugal date. (Single persons: remain as you were.)

An important caveat: the purpose of proposing alternative, less expensive dates is not to starve expensive restaurants out of business. I’ll continue reiterating the maxim that the entire point of saving money on one purchase/expense is to put that money toward other financial goals, like debts or savings or future purchases. You might forgo cable for a year in order to afford a fancy dinner every month, if that fancy dinner is worth it to you.

Which leads to today’s example. As our last anniversary approached, my wife and I had the idea to take a weekend getaway and hike Burney Falls. The initial estimated cost for a weekend away near Burney Falls was something like $20 in gas, $150 for a night at a bed and breakfast, and $50 for a nice dinner—total projected cost: $220.

As the day approached though, we didn’t have the money saved up. I was out of work and we were barely breaking even on our expenses. We decided we simply couldn’t afford the $220 to execute those plans. (Sure, we could have put the weekend on a credit card, but that’d result in paying $220 plus interest over time. We weren’t willing to pay the $220 now, and we certainly weren’t willing to pay more than that in the future.)

An alternative plan could have been a completely free anniversary: only engaging in free activities like hiking or various events about town. There’s no shame in that plan; it’s actually the plan for a majority of our regular social activities—which is why we decided to do something different for our anniversary. We came up with an alternative plan that cost less than half of the original: we each got to spend $50 splurging on whatever food and drinks we wanted at the grocery store, and then we rented a pile of movies for six dollars. Total cost: $106. (Even better, the anniversary food covered several extra days beyond our anniversary; as a result, we spent less on our regular food budget, so we saved a little there, too.)

The date was fantastic! The date itself started out with a fun time plotting and picking out our forthcoming meals. Full disclosure: Mine included a variety six-pack, cookies, sushi, and a bag of orange chicken. Then we spent a bit of time picking out a good mix of films to share with one another. Despite the financial constraints we faced, we felt free to relax in the space we made for ourselves.

Dear reader, have you ever come up with an alternative plan that saved you some money and peace of mind? Share it with me via email or comment on this article below.