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Running Low on Cash? Here’s 14 Cheap Date Ideas

Since my most popular post by far is my post about budget friendly Valentine’s Day ideas I thought it might be time to write down my ideas for inexpensive dates in general.

Let’s face it, whether it’s your first date or your tenth, dating can be kind of expensive. And while we're at it, let’s be honest ,does it really get less expensive when you’re in a relationship? Gotta keep the spark alive! But the good news is it doesn’t have to drain your wallet. Skip the expensive dinner date in favor of one of these ten budget friendly date ideas!

Be forewarned, I’m really looking forward to summer so some of these might be a little biased towards warm weather. But I mean come on, we’re almost there! Alright fine, it’s like another month away if you want to be all technical.

1) Farmer’s Markets. As we’re gearing up for warmer weather I’m starting to get excited about the idea of farmer's markets and all the yummy fare they offer! Nobody says you have to buy anything, but the food is usually inexpensive and amazing, so check it out. If you’re trying to avoid spending money, just walking around is a fun time. There’s usually crafts to check out and some offer free games and activities too!

2) Bookstores. One of my favorite date ideas is going to a bookstore (or library) and each selecting three books - one that represents the person you’re with, one that represents yourself and a random pick. Meet up with your three books and explain why you picked each book. It’s a fun first date idea to try to guess what your date is all about but it’d also be fun to see what your long term partner comes up with.

3) Movies in the Park. A lot of public places offer movies or community organized plays for little or no money. Sure you might have seen the movie a hundred times but it’s still fun to grab a blanket and hang out under the stars.

4) Hiking. Enjoy Mother Nature in all its glory and check out your local hiking trails. Pack a picnic lunch and find a nice scenic overlook to enjoy it. Just be careful in the springtime, trails tend to get muddy! Make sure you have on shoes you don’t mind getting dirty.

5) Netflix and Chill. Get your mind of the gutter, I’m talking about genuinely watching some Netflix. You know I have some series recommendations too! Try watching Love Sick (as long as an STD story line won’t kill the mood) or Grace & Frankie (vibrators are less awkward than STDs right?) for some good laughs. On second thought, maybe stick to a movie and ignore my series suggestions altogether - To All the Boys I Loved Before scores big on the romcom scale.

6) Roller Skating. Get all nostalgic for the days of middle school birthday parties at the roller rink. Make a day out of it and go hit the hardwood. You’ll get to show off your sweet moves and get a good workout in simultaneously. What could be better? Well, maybe owning your own skates and taking this adventure outside.

7) Thrift Stores. Ok, to be fair here I love me some bargains and thrift stores are a great way to find them. Ergo, I would totally be cool with an afternoon digging through the goods at my local thrift store. Maybe that’s not your thing, I get it. So stop in and head to the outdoor section, grab some tennis racquets, badminton racquets, a volley ball, a soccer ball, something! Then head out to the local park and get your game on. Plus, it’s even more fun if you can’t play!

8) Amateur Theater. There’s several community theaters near me that offer Broadway shows at Main Street prices. Even if you don’t have the option of community theater, there’s another great option - the local high school. Yeah, that’s right, the high school play - go check it out. Those kids work hard and can put on a good show. Support the arts and have a great time. Even better, if you’re close enough, go to a show at your old high school. If your date went to school nearby check that show out too. Bonus date night!

9) Community Events. Hit up the local street fair, festival, parade, soap box derby, whatever. Admission is usually super cheap if not free and hey, it’s a good ol’ time. Plus the food is usually pretty amazing if the festival is food based... One of my favorite local festivals? Wing Fest! Also a fan of chili cook offs. I like spicy foods! What can I say?

10) Psychics. Usually found at the above community events, an inexpensive psychic reading can be a fun date. Besides finding out what the stars say about your future it can be interesting to have a discussion about the merits of mediums.

11) Stargazing. Speaking of stars, instead of reading them how about just looking at them for a night? Set up a blanket in a nice and quiet, super dark field and spend the night checking out the constellations. Bonus points for whoever can finds the most. I wouldn’t win because high school earth science wasn’t my scene but it’d still be a ton of fun!

12) 36 Questions to Fall in Love. Ok as if psychics weren’t controversial enough, let’s introduce the idea that asking someone intimate questions and staring into their eyes can lead to falling in love. I’m serious, this was a real experiment conducted by psychologist Arthur Aron. So maybe you think it’s crazy or maybe you’re already head over heels in love with your partner, it could still be interesting to see if you learn anything new about each other!

13) Minor League Baseball. No secret that I’m a huge baseball fan (I even worked at a minor league stadium all through college. I love watching any baseball game but minor league games are pretty fun even if you don’t love the game itself. There’s so many things going on with on the field games, crazy mascots and fun promotions. Plus, you can get good seats for $10, the food is cheaper and major league guys pass through town on rehab assignments. What’s not to love? Go catch a game at your local stadium!

14) Volunteer. Work on a town beautifying project painting an old fence or planting a new garden, spend a couple of hours at the nearby hospital or retirement home with patients that rarely have visitors, volunteer at a local food pantry or collect trash from the side of roads. There are so many different things you can do. Things you can do together to make the world a better place!

I hope you enjoyed this list because I had a great time making it! Now I have so many ideas for things to do over the summer.

What about you? Do you think you'll try any of the things on my list for date night? Do you have any other cheap date ideas that should be added? I’d love to hear all your ideas, tell me in the comments!
Broke Dolly
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Tomorrow is Teacher Appreciation Day! Here’s Where Educators Can Get Free Lunch (or Dessert)...

May 7th is Teacher Appreciation Day! And restaurants everywhere are celebrating by giving teachers free meals and sweet treats.

I love it! I have no doubt that being a teacher is a tough and under appreciated job. But our teachers are so important. They help shape who we are. I can’t tell you how big a role my eleventh grade English teacher played in my life (besides introducing me to my favorite author of all time - F. Scott Fitzgerald in case you're wondering).

I’ve been out of high school for over ten years and every so often I still think about the crazy man with wild hair who invented the game of turkey bowling (which was really just throwing frozen turkeys into his neighbor’s garbage pail much to said neighbor's chagrin) and made me appreciate the classics.

So in honor of all the educators who have made us who we are, all the educators who still have an impact on our lives, here’s a list of restaurants that will be giving out free food in your honor:

1. Arby's - Participating Arby's restaurants are celebrating by giving teachers and school administrators with ID a free sandwich. Side note here - I haven't been to an Arby's in years - but I kind of want to try their new gyros! I wonder how their tzatziki sauce is?

2. Chick-fil-A - Select Chick-fil-A locations are offering teachers with valid ID a free sandwich between 11 AM and 8 PM.

3. Chipotle Mexican Grill -
It's no secret - I love Chipotle and they regularly participate in appreciation promotions. For Teacher Appreciation Day Chipotle is offering buy-one/get-one free entrees (burritos, bowls, salads & tacos) from 3 PM to close. All you have to do is show your school ID.

4. McDonald's - Select McDonald's locations are offering teachers with valid ID a free six piece chicken McNuggets meal.

5. Roy Rodgers Restaurants - Roy Rodgers is celebrating all week long (it’s also Teacher Appreciation Week afterall)! Teachers can stop in anytime from today, Monday May 6th, to Friday May 10th and show your ID for a free milkshake or dessert with purchase.

6. Sonic Drive-In - Sonic is one-upping Roy Rodgers by celebrating almost all month long. And expanding the offer to not only teachers, but "those who appreciate them as much as Sonic does." Awww. Starting on Teacher Appreciation Day and ending on May 31st, order using the Sonic app using the promo code TEACHERS for a free Route 44 drink or slush with purchase.

I cut this list short, including only places that are near me. If you're not in love with these options, check out USA Today's comprehensive list of all restaurants participating in Teacher Appreciation Week.

Who said there’s no such thing as free lunch! Well, um, every economics professor I've ever had. But, semantics!

Now I'm just going to hold out for Accountant Appreciation Day (seriously, it's a thing - November 10th is celebrated as International Accountants Day!) Unfortunately, I don't think it's become a Chipotle promotion just yet.

That just leaves me with one final question... tacos or burritos?!?

My vote is burrito all the way. With extra guac please! You know what, you’re right, I have plenty of time until November 10th to think about it. Hint, hint, Chipotle!

All joking aside, thank you to all the teachers out there. You’re doing a kick butt job and we ALL appreciate it.
Broke Dolly
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Monthly Progress Report (#5)

This post was supposed to be up yesterday but I totally spaced. I guess I think April now has 31 days. Luckily, that's not the case. Nope, it's officially May! We've made it through April and (hopefully) all those April showers.

Besides getting closer and closer to summer, we're another month down and you know what that means - it's time to check up on my progress throughout last month!

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, take a peak at last month's progress report.

Ok, now that you're all caught up, let's get down to the details!

April hasn't exactly been great for my spending. There have been a few unexpected expenses that arose and needed to be taken care of so I expect my credit card balances to be pretty bad this month. I HATE carrying a balance on my credit card. I try to pay them off month to month. Seriously. Every month.

But sometimes life happens and it doesn't exactly go as planned.

Besides my credit cards, I'm not really sure where everything is in the grand scheme of things but I know I haven't saved much, I've spent more than I wanted to and I paid down very little debt. So April isn't looking great.

Let's start with taking a look at my debt:

Mortgage: $149,000 (this feels like some sort of small milestone!)
Car Loan: $8,500
Student Loans: $4,550
Credit Cards: $3,150 (ugh, I knew this number would be high!)
Grand Total of Debt: $165,200

My student loan balances

Totally disappointing that debt number is bigger than last month.

The real exciting news is that renovations are expected to begin on my house this month! The not so exciting news is the budget deficit I’m running.. but, hey, if the US government can do it! Just kidding. I’m totally freaking out. But I have a game plan to make up the difference. Which is take on more debt. Yeah, I didn’t say it was a good one.

Renovation fund requirement: $1,900
New Grand Total of Debt: $167,10

Unfortunately my debt total went up $50. But, big picture here, $50 isn’t so bad. I was expecting worse. And hey, we’re all bound to have a bad month here and there! This is definitely a bad month with some backwards progress but at least it’s minimal backwards progress.

Since my savings balances haven’t changed at all, here’s a quick reminder of what they look like:

Savings account: $2,000
P2P Lending account: $300
Investment account: $150
Grand Total of Savings: $2,450

Alright, it’s been a rough month and I’m not happy about it. But it’s a new month. There’s no time to dwell on my bleak April. Nope. Moving on. 

Here’s hoping that May is a killer month and my debt balances go down! With any luck maybe my savings will get a little boost too!

Alright, enough talk about money - I’m super excited about the renovations! The weather has been a bit rainy so I’m anticipating a little bit of a delay. But hopefully the renovations will be in full swing for my next progress report!

Yeah, May is going to be a good month! Do you have anything exciting going on this month?
Broke Dolly
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