Fun Dates Under $20

If you go on a typical dinner and movie outing even once per week, you’re probably shelling out hundreds of dollars per month unnecessarily. Heck, even a cheaper dinner at the likes of TGI Friday’s and two movie tickets is likely to set you back $50-60. Do that four times a month, and you’re talking $200 plus dollars! As Five Ten Twenty Club members know, if you’d socked that money away, instead, it could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars by the end of your career.

Here are some fun date ideas under $20 my partner and I enjoy regularly. We use the money saved to pay down debt faster and invest.

Dessert Date

Sometimes, leaving the best part of the meal for the end isn’t as satisfying as making it the main course. Instead of paying for an entire meal at your favorite restaurant, just order dessert. Even at fine dining establishments, dessert prices are often low enough to enjoy for under $20.

Many cities even offer dessert-themed restaurants, such as Houston’s famed Chocolate Bar or NYC’s Spot Dessert Bar. Beautiful, gourmet desserts in fanciful surroundings average $5-8 each, and create every bit the romantic experience.

Still want a full meal? Check out our 6 Easy Hacks for Saving on Fine Dining.

Drive-In Movies, Matinees, and Art House Cinemas

Yes, drive-in movie cinemas still exist, and you’d be surprised by how charming (and low-cost) the experience can be. Enjoy the romance of yester-year for a fraction of traditional cinema costs. Search here for drive-in cinemas near you.

Don’t have any nearby? Then consider seeing a matinee or catching non-Hollywood fare at your nearest college or art house cinema; tickets for two typically average under $20.

Chuck E. Cheese, Dave & Buster’s, & Game Arcades

$20 buys you a whole lot of fun at game arcades. If videogames, Skee Ball, and whack-a-mole don’t get your date’s heart racing, you might do well to check their pulse. ‘Nuff said.

Museum Happy Hour Nights, Art Walks, and More

If culture is your thing, then you’re probably aware most major city museums offer extended evening hours (often at lower cost) one day per week. At Miami’s fabulous, newly-opened Perez Art Museum, you can visit for free until 8 P.M. on Thursdays. After viewing the Boteros and other fine art on display, enjoy a couple of glasses of wine at their gorgeous bay view bar. Take in the twinkling lights of South Beach and Fisher Island for under $20.

In Chicago, The Museum of Contemporary Arts offers members tickets to its First Friday music & arts bash for just $10 a pop. At The Art Institute of Chicago,  Illinois residents get free entry every Thursday until 8 P.M. (The museum is actually free for locals every weekday through February 12, making it a perfect winter date destination.)

When I lived in notoriously high-priced San Francisco, finding cheap date activities was a bit of a challenge, until I came across the cool events listings at http://sf.funcheap.com/. Lectures, stand-up comedy, festivals, and more could often be had for free.

 

Do you have any favorite low-cost date or activity ideas? Share them in the comments section below or on our discussion board!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, You Can Rebuild Your Credit – Here’s How

 

credit

Roughly 47 percent of employers pull credit reports before hiring new employees, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. It’s not uncommon for employers to rescind an offer or decline making one after seeing a poor credit score. Some speculate employers fear such employees are financially irresponsible or prone to suspicious behavior. Poor credit can also prohibit you from getting a credit card, getting a low interest rate on a home loan or securing an auto loan.

So how can you restore your credit to good standing? Banks and big financial institutions make building credit quickly seem like a complex mystery. But all credit building really boils down to is borrowing money and paying it back on time. The hard part is finding credit-building opportunities, especially for those with poor credit scores and mounting debt. Here’s some help:

Use Your Rent

Sites like Experian and TransUnion will include rent data on your credit report. Unfortunately, you can’t just log in and report that information yourself. Instead, your landlord can use an agency like RentReporters to report the data for a small fee. But small and independent landlords may not opt to do this for you and are under no obligation to do so. But there’s another option. Pay your rent through WiliamPaid.com for a small fee and the activity will show up on your credit score.

Get a Credit-Builder Loan

Scout around for a local credit union offering credit-builder loans of up to $1,500. Credit unions typically offer lower interest rates to their customers and are easier to secure loans through than traditional big banks. Customers put the money loaned into a savings account to accrue interest and make regular payments on the loan until it’s paid off. After the loan term ends, collect the interest or reinvest.

If you can’t take out a credit-builder loan, reevaluate your spending and income potential. Those receiving regular annuity payments may get a few hundred dollars a month, which in turn gets spent on bills, groceries and a social life. Your money may serve you better if you sell annuity payments for a lump sum of cash now, and then you apply that money toward a credit-builder loan, a secured credit card or any outstanding debt you have.

Get a Secured Credit Card

Unlike traditional consumer credit cards, a secured credit card requires cash collateral upfront. If you add $400 to the card, that’s exactly how much you can spend, unless the creditor extends a line of credit for good payment activity. Secured credit cards usually carry annual fees and offer less flexibility than traditional cards.

Experts suggest charging 10 percent or less of the amount on a secured card each month to further boost your score. The ratio of debt verses what’s left on your card can inch up points on your score. But this also works in reverse. If you have a $400 secured credit card and charge $390 on it, the high ratio of debt verses your credit line can actually deduct points from your score. But within a year of responsible use, you should see your credit score improve enough to apply for other traditional credit cards with higher limits.

Peter Galvin is a retired financial planner who has enjoyed writing and spending time with his three children since his retirement in ’09.