Like many newlywed couples just starting out, Daniel and are on a budget. Although we are only four months into our marriage, we have established some financial goals that we want to achieve within the year that won’t be possible without a little sacrifice.
In addition to our monthly bills, we have another financial obligation that currently requires a healthy bit of attention from our bank account. As a result, we are left with a limited budget to spend on “the fun stuff”. However, this has made us better at making do with what we have when it comes to date nights and weekend outings.
Some of our favorite free or cheap activities are too good to keep to ourselves, so I want to share them with you in hopes that you and your significant other will give them a try! Not only are all of these activities extremely forgiving on your budget, but they will make you feel like you still have a social life.
One of our favorite recreational activities since we are only a 45 minute drive from the Smoky Mountains. Pack your lunch with food from home rather than eating out along the way. You’ll have lunch with a view once you reach the top! Mountain views are priceless, literally.
2. Buy cheap floats at the Dollar Store and have a lazy day floating on the quarry, lake, or down a river
We bought these floats at the beginning of the summer for $3 and I’d say we’ve gotten our money’s worth out of them! Floating at Mead’s Quarry a few miles down the road from our apartment is our favorite spot.
3. Go to a minor league baseball game
Tickets to the Smokies game cost us around $20 and we were pleasantly surprised by how much fun we had! The fireworks at the end of the game were an added bonus.
4. Keep an eye out for festivals and events in your city
Our city has a biweekly Farmer’s Market during the warmer months and a festival for just about anything you can think of. This year, Knoxville hosted the USA Cycling Pro Road and Time Trial Championships in June. We spent the whole day walking around the city and stopping at different spots to watch the group of cyclists race past us.
5. Take a walk or trail run at Ijams or ride your bike along the greenway
We live a few miles away from Ijams Nature Center where we like to go for evening runs. Every time we go, we always find a new trail or feature that we’ve never stumbled upon before. This year, we got to run alongside fields full of bright yellow sunflowers that popped up in July at Forks of the River!
6. Free or cheap concerts at your local honky tonk or bar
Music is just better live, don’t ya think? Songs are brought to life when you see a band or artist perform them in person. Cotton Eyed Joe brings in new artists each month, often for free or usually less than $20 per ticket. This month we saw Midland, and tickets to see Joe Nichols in August are only $10!
7. Happy Hour
If you are the kind of person who would rather sip on an adult beverage at a bar with your friends than at home by yourself, happy hour is for you. Our favorite downtown bar, Scruffy City Hall, has $2.50 beers during happy hour, and that makes us, well, happy.
8. Line dancing lessons
When I was in college, a couple friends and I would go to Cotton Eyed Joe to learn how to line dance. We go on ‘college night’, so we’d get in for free and attempt to learn the complicated steps to songs. More often than not, we’d fumble through the steps, but we still had a blast every time!
9. Hang out at your apartment or neighborhood pool
Relaxing, close to home and free! I’ve never met anyone who’s said “no” to a day at the pool.
10. ENO at a park
Bring a book to read while you swing from the trees at Sequoyah Hills.
11. Get a library card
This may seem super old fashioned to some people, but library cards are free if you live in the county that the library is located. You can rent an endless supply of books and return them when you’re finished instead of holding onto books you probably won’t read again and take up space on your shelves.
Strike & Spare bowling alleys always have specials during the weekdays for $1.10 games, and they do cosmic bowling on Friday and Saturday after 10 p.m. which is sUpEr FuN.
13. $2.50 theater
Knoxville has an old school theater that sells movie tickets for $2.50, and there’s a Big Lots next door that you can stop in for a quick candy run if you forgot your snacks at home.
In my experience, you can rent most tent campsites for less than $30. Besides, eating dinner by candlelight is way more magical than at the kitchen table.
15. Have friends over for dinner
Eating out gets really expensive and if you don’t monitor how much you’re forking out at restaurants (or forking into your mouth), you’ll start to see those dollars dwindle pretty quickly. This was, and still is, our biggest recreational expense. It’s especially hard during the summer months when all you want to do is get ice cream after dinner, but even that can add up if you make it a weekly habit. We’ve started eating in a lot more lately and although it’s sometimes a pain to come home after work and cook every night, it’s worth the money that we saved by not eating out, and healthier too!
16. Go sight-seeing in your own city
You’ll never know how much your city has to offer unless you get out an explore it for yourself!
What are your favorite free or cheap things to do with your significant other? Have any suggestions for us that you’d like to share? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org!