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Mary Hunt

If you're fortunate enough to share love, it takes a conscious decision to nurture your relationship. Don't put it off because you think it's too expensive to go on a date. Consider these cost-conscious ways to spend time with your love.

1. Enjoy a classic movie marathon. Borrow DVDs from the library, or swap with friends. Serve hot buttered popcorn. Build a fire. And turn the lights down low.

2. Take salsa or ballroom dance lessons. Check the offerings at your local parks and recreation department.

3. Learn something new. Check with the local home improvement store for free do-it-yourself clinics. Typically, these are offered on Saturday mornings, so get up early. Go out for coffee and bagels. And then learn a new skill together.

4. Check the local university. If you live in a college town, attend the lectures, films and concerts. Spring is when performing arts students give their senior recitals. Be there to witness the start of a budding artist's career.

5. Play a few rounds of miniature golf. You just might hit a hole-in-one and win a free round.

6. Create a time capsule. Bury it in a secret place. Record the details and location. Then seal this information in an envelope and put it away with special instructions for your kids or others to open at a future time that you decide.

7. Play a game of Scrabble by candlelight. Any favorite card game or board game will do. Spring for a great bottle of wine to spice things up a bit.

8. Visit the zoo or a local museum on a free admission day. Most museums are free one day each month. Find out when that is, and then make your plans accordingly.  Admission is always free to the St. Louis Zoo, although there are fees for some attractions.

9. Get a free membership to Goldstar.com. You'll receive emails when half-priced tickets (or sometimes totally free tickets) are available to first-rate local concerts, sporting events, comedy shows, music shows and other performing arts shows. You won't get much notice, so you'll need to be spontaneous.

10. Volunteer together. Sign up to work at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.

11. When's the last time you lay down on the grass and stared at the stars? Probably years ago, right? Grab a blanket, and try to find your favorite constellations. P.S. If you need some guidance, you can download apps like Star Tracker.

12. Go to a park where you can visit the ducks.

13. Play a Monopoly game through until someone wins. Play music (not TV) in the background. You'll have fun conversations and learn a lot about your partner's business sense while doing it.

14. Go to a flea market, or hit some thrift stores. You don't have to buy anything. It's fun to look around at antiques and nostalgic products from the eras gone by.

15. Look up the events calendar of your local paper or town website. You'll discover tons of free events like art shows, block parties, farmer's markets and festivals that you can go to together.

16. Volunteer at a Humane Society shelter, and play with dogs that need extra love.

17. Find a coffeehouse that has live music, and go there for a night. Even if you have two drinks each, coffee is inexpensive, and you'll have paid less than $20 for a whole night's activity.

18. Most communities have some form of movies in the park going on in the summer months. It's usually a free activity where a movie is played on a giant screen. Just pack a blanket (and, hey, maybe a secret bottle of wine) and the whole night is set.

19. If either of you is interested in photography, spend the day walking around a nearby town or city trading the camera back and forth, and see who comes out with the best shots.

20. Go to bingo night somewhere. Bingo people are a lot more interesting than you'd imagine.

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mary@everydaycheapskate.com|Everyday Cheapskate, Box 2099 Cypress, CA 90630

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