Wednesday, March 20, 2013

the debt reduction diaries: date night

One of my friends recently reminded me of the importance, even during this season of strict budgeting, to make sure I have a date with my hubby every once in a while.  So I promised that this month we would go on a date. 

I happened to have a couple extra daycare kids this month, so I had 50 bucks to spend.  and thus begins the date-night-on-a-budget decisions...

basically, we ate at the cheapest place we could.  $18, no tip, with a coupon. :) 

we passed on a movie because the one we really wanted to see was too expensive, ($9 per ticket when we knew it would be in redbox soon) but the cheap options got over too late, and our kids were at our friends' house.

so we did what we almost always end up doing on date night, running errands. we brought our broken computer into the apple store, watch the guy try this.....and then this....and then this....only to find out that it'll cost $300 to fix, which might even be more than the computer is worth.  so we add another thing to our "broken and unable to fix it" list. :)  and by that point it was too late to run any other errands.

so then we decide to get dessert. Steve suggests Paradise bakery, right around the corner.  I'm rather particular when it comes to spending money, so I say, well, is it like panera or is it like Wheatfields?  becuase i want DESSERT. and he says it's like Wheatfields.  so I say ok let's go.  but upon arriving, I see that the options are basically a cookie or a bagel.  so, keeping my 30-teen attitude in check, I just state that I don't want this and we leave.  (it was a hard day, ok? my sewing machine broke and our computer isn't worth fixing, and I was NOT about to spend my precious dollars on a cookie.)  so we head to Wheatfields.  it's 8:34 and we walk up to the door, only to find out that it closed at 8:30. 

At this point, I say, SCREW it. everything on this day is going wrong, so let's go to the Cheesecake factory and get cheesecake.  who cares if we have to tip, and who cares how much it costs.  ok, but wait.  if we each get a piece, that'll be like 16 bucks, plus a tip!  I can't do it!  should we share?  but then we'll both feel jipped, so that's not worth it either! 

ok, so then we decide to do what we always do and get a WHOLE frozen peanut butter pie from the grocery store while we pick up a few groceries, and a red box movie, so we can end the date in true Steve and Andrea form.  eating peanut butter pie in our sweats on the couch.

so in all, our food cost was $18 and our pie was (on sale!!!! for) $6. 

I figured I could put the rest of the money in our grocery envelope maybe, since I still have 2 weeks to plan for and $38 in the envelope.  but I went through the cupboard and wrote down the random things we had in there, and created a meal plan and a grocery list (I think I've heard it referred to as "reverse meal planning").  I even got out old reciepts to know exactly what everything costs, and we're under $38.  don't ask me how. :) thank goodness for our random stash of like 8 partially used bags of brown rice.

so I decided to use the rest of the $50 to do a couple fun things with the kids because it's spring break and Lillian is at my dad and Judy's house for the week being spoiled.  So I figured we could do a couple fun things with the ones who are "stuck" here with us, like go out for lunch one day and donuts on Sat. :) 

anyway, back to the date, of course I fell asleep on the couch during the movie, totally smashed into the wall on my way to the bed, and woke up the next day wondering if it was worth it or not.  I mean yeah, it was nice to be out with my hubby and no kids, but I HATED spending the money on our cafe type food.  but it also didn't seem worth it to go somewhere nice and blow the whole 50 bucks in one shot and not be able to do anything fun with the kids for the whole week either.

so, let's hear it.  are you other budgeting families finding the same thing?  that spending money is just so hard that it makes even date night seem less enjoyable???  what are your cheap date ideas?  somebody please help me!   (oh, and coffee shops aren't really an option because I don't drink coffee.  and we do that anyway on Wed nights after we drop the kids off at church, and then we have pinkadink business meetings at the coffee shop.) 


steph dexter said...

for cheap/free dates, we have gone on walks while listening to a podcast, done projects together around our casa (we think this is fun usually), redbox, yardwork (yep we're weird), walking through home depot for DIY ideas, game night at home, reading at Barnes & Noble, hang out at the lake once it's warmer, pick up a couple donuts or 49 cent cones at McD's...

but totally agree that it is tough to balance enjoying a date with the reality that the money could be channeled towards debt, etc. i tend to measure things in pairs of jeans (i.e. $50!! i could have bought a pair of jeans at GAP for that and they wouldn't even have to be on clearance!!!)... lol. and brad and i both compare fancy meals that weren't that great to how many times we could have had chipotle. i'm sure this has happened at your house a few times. :D

theKband said...

Nate and I do a date night once a month and we have a $20 budget. We use coupons and we do Panera sometimes or other places where we can sit and still talk. Our pastor once did a series for us called 10 Great Dates and he told us back then to always go into a date with two questions for the other person, trying to stay away from "kid questions"--like "where have you struggled this week?" etc. Then, we usually have about 45 minutes to do errands, which at this stage of life for us, is a luxury to do them on our own. We go to the places we would hate to take kids.... I don't know. I'll be looking back to see what others say. We could use suggestions too!

Jantina said...

Matt & I struggle with this too! For a long time he didn't want a date night because we couldn't figure out how to do it without spending money. So we put our minds to work trying to remember what we like to do together. The answer? At the moment, we walk. We have walked together our whole married life. But it's cold out... so now we walk the mall. Yes, it took some serious discipline to go walk the mall and not be filled with "I wants" but we also embraced the fact that we weren't there to spend money. We window shop, we pick out our favorite shoes and laugh that I can pick out a $200 pair of shoes a MILE away from a store. What kind of skill is that anyway?!? We find something obnoxious and have silly conversations about it (hey, it isn't about money or kids which is kind of a refreshing break too, ya know!?) But I say that... and I can't wait for it to be warm out so we can just walk a random neighborhood and enjoy the fresh air!

amy sterk said...

Maybe your focus should be on spending time together, and not necessarily having an "experience"? If you had the kids at friend' could pick up "convenience" food at the grocery store(which would feel like you weren't cooking), and spend the whole time at home...alone! (As long as you are together, watching a movie, working on a project, still gives you time to talk and reconnect. Actually, more so than GOING to a movie!)

Jaden Allred said...

It's always nice to have a date night even with a strict budget on. I don't actually have a problem with that because my wife is a great cook; we usually date inside our house, especially if our date landed on days after we pay our mortgage. Anyway, just enjoy your date night. This is the only time you can bond together without thinking about the problems you have, and I think that what matter most.

>>Jaden Allred