Guest post: How to date without blowing the budget!

Guest post: How to date without blowing the budget!

I spend too much money. There. I said it. Recently, I added up how much money I spend on meals out, takeaways and supermarket trips; I’ll be honest, I felt sick. I had spent more than a person’s wage so I decided I needed to change my ways.

I cut my weekly spending down to £50 in the supermarket. Within 3 weeks, I had bought garden furniture and an air tent with the money I had saved.

So, when John (who has been one of my best friends for more than half our lives, and starting to approach two thirds) suggested I think about how to approach dating on a budget, I jumped at the chance. Of course, we all know we can go for a nice walk in the countryside, at the beach, in a park. But be honest, how many ‘nice walks’ do you really want to go on before you lump yourself back on the sofa playing games on your phone? Let’s think bigger. Let’s think better.

Visit the theatre.

For many people on a budget – or with kids – the theatre is a completely unobtainable date night dream. Although the lockdowns nearly broke the theatre, it definitely created a new way of watching performances: streaming. Since theatres have reopened, many of the theatre companies have continued streaming their performances new and old, allowing you to watch them from the comfort of your own home. Grab a bottle of wine, two camping chairs and a handful of snacks, and change your living room into a theatre for the night. Where to watch…

National Theatre at Home £7.99 to rent or £9.99 a month subscription. See the likes of Ben Whishaw in Julius Caesar (Q in Skyfall, or if you are a parent, the voice of Paddington in the films!) and Gillian Anderson in All About Eve.

Globe Player £9.99 to watch a Shakespeare play on demand. Or, if you are feeling far more adventurous (and happen to live near, or be in, London), you could pay £5 to go and be a groundling at the Globe Theatre. You would stand in the yard to watch a full Shakespearian play; be prepared for a long stand, though! And no rotting fruit is to be thrown at the actors these days…

Visit a museum.

We don’t realise how lucky we are in this country sometimes. Every time I go abroad, I am always horrified to find out I have to pay to go into a museum, so I often don’t. But here, in the UK, the great majority of museums are free to enter. Obviously, check before you head to them, and check if you need to book a visit time: lots are still asking for this post pandemic.

I did a quick map check, and in the area around me, there are over 20 museums! Plenty of places for you to check out across a number of weekends. Think museums aren’t for you? Think again. There is something for everyone.

Guest post: How to date without blowing the budget!
People enjoying an art exhibition

Take Greater Manchester for example. Interested in science and technological engineering? Museum of Science and Industry. Interested in the Women’s Rights’ movements? The Pankhurst Centre. The history of the police (and a bit of time in the slammer)? The Greater Manchester Police Museum. The history of how people in Manchester rose up and rebelled? The People’s History museum. The war? The Imperial War Museum North. I could go on. And on. And on. There’s even a hat museum…

Have a look near you- there could well be some unexpected treats. My advice? Go to the worst sounding ones – the comedy will make itself, and the photos a long lasting memory!

Eating out on a budget.

Ok. We all love a meal out. Someone else doing the shopping, the cooking, the washing up and the serving. It’s delightful. But it isn’t cheap. So how can we make it cheaper?

Firstly, go for breakfast instead. Breakfast is generally cheaper, and it’s far less likely to be accompanied by a nice bottle of wine, halving the price already. (Unless I’m at an airport, of course. All breakfast rules are off there!)

Secondly, does it need to be a full meal? Why not take yourself off to a farmers’ market or craft fair and make the most of the tasters? These often have live music at them, so go and enjoy!

Feeling brave? If you aren’t fussy (so I’m out- my husband is so utterly fussy), why not use one of the many apps that help to salvage food that is at best before date, but too good to go in the bin. There are many of the big supermarkets, coffee shops and stores on them offering bags of sandwiches, fruit and cakes. Why not pick one up and take it on a surprise picnic?

Guest post: How to date without blowing the budget!

Now, I know cooking in the house is not what I said at the start. However, there are many companies now that will deliver food to your door that allow you to create restaurant quality food in your own kitchen. Could you work together on a delightful meal that you both enjoy? I’ve done this from two companies now, at a cost of £20.24 for 5 nights, and £13.84 for 4 nights for two of us. The food has been surprisingly good, and you get some lovely recipe cards to keep. Yes, you have to sign up, but you can cancel them immediately after the first delivery if you choose.

Go to the cinema. 

I am pretty sure that the cinema used to be much cheaper. The rise of the huge, recliner seated megaplexes seems to have made the cinema a rare treat these days. But it can be done on the cheap(ish).

Check your insurance. Have a look at whether you have any 2 for 1 offers with your insurance through some of the major comparison websites. (You may also have this on restaurants – have a nosey!)

Have a look at some of the big company websites. Odeon, for example, have a ‘Screen Unseen’ section where you can watch a preview of a brand-new film for between £6-8. The catch? You won’t know what the film is until it starts. Again, like the surprise bags, it will be hit and miss. But, I think that’s the fun bit!

Don’t be afraid to take your own snacks into the cinema too. You don’t have to hide them up your top like they are contraband. Keep those costs down. Pop to the nearest cheap shop, grab some popcorn, a drink and multipack of chocolate bars and enjoy them all the more knowing you’ve saved those pennies.

Guest post: How to date without blowing the budget!

Thank you Jen for sharing your inspirational ideas – we wish you all the luck with your budget, not that you need it as we both know once you set your mind to something there’s no going back!

If you liked Jen’s ideas and want to follow her journey you can find her blog here: https://chalkingaway.wordpress.com

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