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Care to wager a guess what the average dinner date night in America now costs? $96.

How about dinner and a movie? $123.

If you’re young and single, those amounts might stretch you thin, but it’s still a worthwhile expense, especially if you split the bill. If you’re more financially secure, $123 might not seem like a stretch at all. It might even be a steal.

But to parents of young families, $123 is quickly approaching “that’s-too-much-let’s-just-not-go” territory. Especially when you factor in the cost of a babysitter, which brings about a whole other set of hurdles:

  1. Can we find a sitter?
  2. How much do we pay the sitter? For one kid? Two? Three? Four?
  3. How long can we stay out? If we stay out longer, we’ll have to pay the sitter more. Can we afford that?

Instead of buckling down and hammering out details because they can’t afford it, it’s easy for parents to let date night get pushed to the back burner. They go out less, or not at all. Then what? As date nights plummet, things like anxiety, stress, and isolation slowly creep up. It’s not a great recipe for marital bliss.

The good news is that you don’t need to win the lottery or fall into a pile of excess money with which to have adventures with your partner. All you need is to prioritize date night and then get creative in how you’ll spend that time together.

Here are three tips to reclaim date night.

  1. Forget babysitters. Find another family you like, respect, and get along with. Once a month—or even every other week—watch each other’s kids so the other parents can go have a few hours alone together.
  2. Date nights don’t need to be lavishly expensive. If a fancy experience is important to you, then you’ll want to budget for it or ask for birthday/holiday gift cards to your go-to restaurants and experiences. Just don’t be digging into credit to fund date night; that brings up a whole new level of anxiety and stress. Try keeping it simple. How about a long, leisurely stroll in nature or a free community event? How about an adventure of some sort? Taking the expensiveness out of date night requires a certain amount of creativity, but it’s still uninterrupted time together, which is the whole point anyway.
  3. When out of options, turn to that trustiest of babysitters: Screens. That’s right. Ethical appropriateness aside, screens give you a little wiggle room to sneak off for a candlelit dinner—even if it’s only one room away and you prepare the meal yourselves.

Here’s a challenge for you in 2024:

Get creative and reclaim your date nights. Be intentional about how you spend your time and stretch those dollars. Your friendly neighborhood Verve team is rooting for you.

Looking for more tips to help manage your family finances? Check out these blog posts.