Tag Archives: frugal dates

Proof that we’ve been to the beach at least once

Even though Tony and I live 10 minutes from the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast, we’re just not really into the beach. I don’t like to be wet, Tony doesn’t like to be hot, and we’re both too paranoid and neurotic to allow ourselves to get sun tans.

But I just found these pictures of us at the beach from June, and I had to post them to prove that we’ve actually been to the beach at least once.


On a whim one Sunday evening we packed up some books and a blanket and went to the beach for approximately one hour before the sun and the sand and the bugs got to us. Using the parking meter as an excuse, we packed up our books and left, but not before I made Tony pose for at least one picture of himself at the beach smiling. If we’re leaving North Carolina, we should at least have that.

The picture above was my fourth attempt. I kept telling him, “Let’s take it again. SMILE! You look like I’m torturing you!”

This is a more accurate depiction of Tony at the beach:

beach tony

And here I am pretending to LOVE my casual beach lifestyle. Soon I’ll jump into the dirty, fish poop infested water for a dip or maybe even jump on a surfboard despite the high probability that I’ll be attacked by a shark. It could happen. I’ve been watching Shark Week.

beach karen

No spend alternatives to our favorite summer activities

Photo by lonebluelady

We’re only in the second week of our no spend summer, and we’ve already hit some challenges and setbacks. Even though we know it’s worth it, limiting our spending has been really tough. It’s a challenge to keep ourselves from feeling deprived and losing motivation.

There are some things that I associate with summer that we’ve had to give up. Because we miss them, we’re thinking of no spend alternatives to the summer activities we love.

Movies and popcorn

What’s summer without blockbusters? Though we sometimes catch a matinee at the cheap theater for $5.50 a ticket, we still miss the fun of the big screen with a bucket of popcorn. Check your city’s events calendar and see if they’re offering free screenings of classic movies. Our city screens family movies in a park every Sunday night for free. If your city doesn’t offer anything like that, add a little extra fun to family movie night by popping homemade popcorn on the stovetop.

Going out for ice cream

Nothing says summer like a trip to the ice cream parlor. But gourmet ice cream parlors are way too pricey, and even Dairy Queen can add up. Instead, drive through any fast food restaurant with a $1 menu and pick up an ice cream cone or a sundae. I don’t usually recommend McDonald’s, but their hot fudge sundaes taste just like Dairy Queen, and they only cost $1.

Lunch on a restaurant patio

One of our favorite weekend activities when the weather is nice is dining outside on a restaurant patio. But part of our no spend summer plan is no restaurant meals, period. If you really want to sit outside and enjoy the weather, pack a lunch and a blanket and head to the park or the beach.

Summer concerts

Ever since I was a teenager, summer meant live concerts. But concert tickets can cost a lot of money. Again, check your city’s events calendar for free live music. Our city presents a band downtown every Friday night of the summer for free. The next best thing for us is listening to an album we haven’t heard in a long time all the way through, start to finish. With today’s iPod culture, a lot of people are missing out on the fun of listening to an entire album. We make it a point to put on music and really listen instead of putting it in the background. If there’s money in the entertainment budget, you can even download something you’ve never heard on iTunes for about $10.

Summer vacation

It really is true that you can get out of town, or at least out of the house, without spending a lot of money. Camping at a state park is a great, inexpensive way to get out of the house. If even camping is a stretch for your budget, look at your city through the eyes of a tourist with a stay-cation. Check out the art and history museums near you. See if there are any national historic sites within driving distance. Even if you have to take a day trip to the nearest metropolitan area, a tank of gas is well worth that vacation feeling without shelling out for hotels and restaurants.

Frugal date nights for around $10

Photo by justonlysteve

Now that we’re living on a cash only budget for all of our discretionary expenses, one of the areas we’re really cutting down is entertainment. We still want a little fun money, but we’re limiting our entertainment expenses to about $10 per week.

I’ve been brainstorming some things we can do for about $10 a week instead of going out to eat. It’s funny, but these are already some of our favorite date ideas. By cutting out the restaurant meal beforehand, we’re saving $25-$40 a night.

See a matinee.

I realize that in some places, you can’t even get two tickets to a matinee for $10 anymore. Some theaters offer special discounts on movies that have been out for a while or certain showtimes, though. Our theater offers a discount on the last matinee of the day, which brings the matinee price down from $7 to $5.50 per person, so we always go to that show. Find out if your theater offers any discounts, and plan your trips to the movies around their specials.

Pizza and a movie.

If you can’t go to the movies for $5 per person, then just stay in. Order pizza and pick up a movie at Redbox for a dollar. If you use a promo code, the movie is free. Pizza restaurants like Domino’s and Little Caesars are offering large pizzas for $5, making this a $5 date night instead of $10. If you’re like us and you prefer your homemade pizza to fast food, this date costs even less.

Take a drive.

We love to walk our dog around the neighborhood or our city’s downtown on nice nights. But if you’re tired of the same sights, consider taking a drive to a nearby city in the evening. Try to look at the things you may have seen a hundred times through new eyes, or just enjoy a good conversation. Some of our best ideas have come from long car rides.

Add a bottle of wine to a weekend meal.

Wine is one of our favorite ways to dress us a normal meal and make it feel special. There are a ton of good wines available at most grocery stores for under $10 a bottle. Adding it to your regular meal can make it feel like you’re on a date in a fancy restaurant instead of eating at home. Turn off the TV, set the table, and talk to each other like you would at a restaurant.

Coffee and dessert.

If you really want a treat or something to do after dinner, head out for a cup of decaf and some dessert. Sharing the dessert will cut costs and calories, but you’ll still get something sweet. I’ve always thought restaurants were fun, and this is a great way to dine out without spending a lot of money. Sometimes instead of going to a restaurant, we head to Barnes and Noble for a frou-frou Starbucks coffee drink and some book browsing.

What do you do for fun when money’s tight?

It’s not always about money


Yesterday, Tony and I took our dog for a hike at the state park, then for a walk along the beach. We had a wonderful time, and it didn’t cost a penny. It also allowed me some time to think and reflect on some things.

  • This may not be my favorite place I’ve lived, but it certainly has some perks. And most importantly, I am happy here because I’m with Tony.
  • I should be appreciating every second of the time that we have together, just the two of us.


  • I’m not taking nearly enough pictures to document this time in our lives.
  • I shouldn’t worry so much about that which I can’t control.
  • Exercise is a lot more fun when it involves sunshine and fresh air.


  • Most importantly: There are many things in life that are more important than money. That’s why I’m so glad we’re frugal, and we don’t have to worry so much about money anymore.

Love don’t cost a thing

photo by Grant MacDonald

I’m not a J.Lo fan, I promise. But with Valentine’s Day coming up this week, there’s never been a better time to remind ourselves of this simple concept: love and money have absolutely nothing to do with one another.

I have nothing against Valentine’s Day. It’s a wonderful idea. Unfortunately, like most holidays, it’s gotten all wrapped up with money and gifts and extravagance. It’s ironic that the holiday centered on love has become so extravagant when love is is the most frugal idea ever. Love costs nothing. It offers so many wonderful benefits, and they’re all absolutely free.

This Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to celebrate love without spending any money. I’m not talking about spending less money or a little money. Try celebrating the person you love most for free.

Spending money is easy, but we all know the best things in life cost nothing.

  • Take an extra moment out of the day to stop what you’re doing, embrace your significant other, and tell him or her exactly how you feel.
  • Write a letter letting him know what he means to you and how he changed your life.
  • Make a list of all of the things you love most about her.
  • Turn off the TV and spend the evening talking about where you’ve come from and where you want to go next.
  • Remind yourself of your first days as a couple, and try to remember the time when your partner was just too good to be true. Hopefully, you haven’t forgotten, but if you have, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to remind yourself.

If you’re planning a money-free Valentine’s Day, leave a comment and share your plans!

Finally home & ready for a new year

We had an absolutely wonderful time visiting our family and friends. After a fun, relaxing vacation, we’re back home and ready to start reaching for some new goals.

As much as I loved seeing everyone, the best part of our trip was the time we spent together. We spent a total of 34 hours in the car together driving. It was plenty of time to talk about our priorities, our goals, and what we hope to achieve in the coming year(s).

I hadn’t realized it, but the regular hustle and  bustle of daily life was leaving us very little time to talk to one another, reconnect, and make plans. We’ve only been married 7 months, but we’d already fallen into a routine that didn’t include much time for philosophical heart to hearts.

If you haven’t done it in a while, I really suggest spending some time with your spouse, one on one with no distractions, to talk about your plans, goals, and future together. If you have a date night coming up, spend it in a quiet place talking instead of at a movie or a loud restaurant.

It’s so easy to get caught up in talking about day-to-day life — jobs, kids, bills, etc. Tony and I like to occasionally have conversations like the ones we had in our first months as a couple when we had few responsibilities — long, windy philosophical discussions about our relationship, the future, and other things we don’t get a chance to discuss during the busy work week. These conversations help us look beyond what’s happening in our current daily lives, set new goals, keep us working toward achieving them, and leave us feeling like two teenagers in love with a world of possibilities ahead of us. :)

We talked about our careers, our finances, and our plans for after he graduates in 18 months. It was a lot of fun, and now we’re starting the new year with a renewed sense of purpose and a clear path to achieve our goals.

With just 18 short months until the next chapter of our lives, we’re deciding now where life will take us next. Hopefully there are big changes ahead. Don’t you just love the new year?

A fabulous, frugal (free!) date

Tonight, Tony and I wanted to get out of the house, but our budget is pretty tight this month. Armed with some coupons, we headed out to have some fun without spending any money.

First, we headed to the mall where I redeemed a coupon for a free pair of underwear from Victoria’s Secret. Honestly, I haven’t made a charge on the card in probably close to a year (other an $2 and some change to buy some mascara purchased with a $10 off coupon. Long story short, I had to use the card to redeem the coupon). They just keep sending me coupons for free stuff. It’s a-ok with me! I rarely have to spend a dime to redeem the coupons, and when I do it’s just a dollar or two for some underwear, makeup, or lotion. Fine by me.

I also planned to redeem a coupon for a free diffusor starter set from Bath and Body Works that’s been floating around the frugal blogosphere. I first saw it at BeCentsAble, I think (linked above). Unfortunately, when I clicked on the link to print the coupon today, I got a message that said the offer was expired. Bummer, especially since the coupon wasn’t supposed to expire until next month! Lesson learned – from now on I’ll print the coupons right away when I see something good!

Finally, we stopped by Barnes and Noble where we browsed some books and redeemed this coupon for a free coffee at the Barnes and Noble Starbucks cafe that I picked up at Nothern Cheapskate and Sense to Save.

We had a great night, and we didn’t spend a single cent! I love frugal dates. :)