The ideas for cheap dates are in, and it's time to vote: Who do you think has the best idea for a frugal-yet-romantic night out? The winner of this Alpha Consumer Challenge will receive Break Down Your Money: How to Get Beyond the Noise to Profit in the Markets by Fox Business Network reporter Tracy Byrnes. (Votes will be accepted through Tuesday.)
Here are the finalists, picked from many great submissions:
Free culture, from Funny about Money:
During milder weather, the expensive galleries in Scottsdale, Ariz., host the Fifth Avenue Artwalks. Food and wine are served—much of it free—and you can wander through some fancy venues to view art that ranges from clothesline quality to very fine indeed, for no more than the cost of driving out there. Phoenix has an event called First Fridays. On the first Friday of each month, art galleries, artsy coffeehouses, and funky restaurants hold open houses. A shuttle runs from the downtown library to take you through all the areas of the arts district. Great fun!
And the Phoenix Art Museum gives free admission one evening a week, generally midweek. We call it "bum's night" (we're the bums) and take advantage every now and again.
Free books and movies, from Canadian Dream:
My fondest memory was getting the grandparents to baby-sit and spending two hours just browsing a bookstore where we didn't buy anything. Instead, we wrote down what we liked and got it from the library. Then, we drank coffee in a local cafe and discussed what we wanted to read next. We are BIG book lovers! Total cost: $10. Another idea is getting a movie from the library (free), putting the kids to bed, and watching it with some cheesecake we pick up from the grocery store, along with some strong homemade coffee. Cost: $6. The nice thing about a date like this is you can really do it any night.
Cooking and board games, from Jim in Maryland:
Our frugal date consists of finding a fun and creative recipe online and then cooking it for dinner. We've discovered many great recipes this way, and we've improved our ability to cook and improvise. This takes the frugal idea of cooking your own meals, rather that eating out at restaurants, and combines it with a frugal way of entertaining yourself (since the entertainment of cooking and company is essentially free). Then, after the cooking and enjoyment of the wonderful food you've created, follow it up with a fun night of board games or card games. A deck of cards isn't more than a dollar, and there are thousands of games you can play!