When the recession hit, I lost my primary source of income, and date nights with my husband started to fall by the wayside.

But even during the Great Depression, couples managed to woo each other at smartly priced rendezvous, right? I decided to recycle some of those ideas to reconnect with my guy -- and they worked.

See the Talkies
Way back when, movies were a dime down at the nickelodeon -- now it's a 10-spot or more. Still, it's tough to beat that sense of sweet escapism. Save money by attending Sunday matinees, or plan an at-home movie night around your Netflix selections. (Stock up on the microwave popcorn flavored with movie butter.)

Certain credit or membership cards (like Optimum Rewards) even let you see movies for free. Date night can live on -- just without the high price.

Do Something Sweet
In the '30s, couples would drive on down to the Dairy Queen or sit at the soda fountain, sharing ice cream sundaes for two. You don't have to go out for a full-fledged dinner -- just head to your favorite ice cream store (DQ is still around!) and indulge in your favorite dessert. Rainbow sprinkles just make life better.

Click here for more Dust-Bowl Era dating ideas.


Eat (More Than Just Potatoes)
I'd like to suggest that we all order from the McDonald's dollar menu (McFlurrys were romantic on "30 Rock"), but we don't all need thunder thighs. Instead, make a date out of cooking a meal together. The time together will allow for some (probably much-needed) bonding, and the sense of teamwork you feel once you've put together your gourmet meal will bring you closer together.

I like to use the recipes from Real Simple magazine, because they don't take forever, yet they always turn out delicious. Cook in bulk, so that you have enough to last you for two weeks (at which point you will finally hate it and never want to eat it ever, ever again).

Step It Up
Community dances used to be a big deal that couples looked forward to all week. There are still free dance events -- you just have to look. A quick search for regional dance studios or the newspaper activity listings should turn up similar opportunities.

In my neighborhood alone, a venue in a neighboring town offers free salsa lessons once a week before opening the club up to the general public. And at the dance studio where I take weekly lessons, there are newcomer socials, free practice sessions, and free review classes, where novices and hot-footers alike can practice swinging their partners around the dance floor.

Double Date
Years ago, groups of friends enjoyed new board games, such as Monopoly and Scrabble, while playing records on a phonograph. Stop drinking your money at happy hours and host an evening in.

Invite your best couple friends (ideally those with a jalopy, for accuracy's sake) over for a night of potluck, cheap wine and Scattergories (best. party game. ever). After they leave, the two of you will have enough food and booze to last you till next month. (The best friends always bring a bottle of wine.)

Wandering Aimlessly
It was popular then and, as far as I know, it's still popular now: Wandering around, whether by foot or by car, is a no-fail standby for those with a whole lotta nice weather and not much else to do. And with gas prices dropping again, what better way to spend your day together than driving somewhere new, the windows rolled down and the radio blasting something you've heard a hundred times before.

Whichever way you wanna travel, you can find some great ideas for road trips and walking tours on sites like this one and this one.

Necking
A popular pastime that never loses its luster, why not just get busy in the bedroom (and everywhere else you can think of to drop your drawers)? It costs absolutely nothing but your time.

Steph Auteri is a writer specializing in sex, dating, relationships, and the freelance life. You can find more of her work here, and follow her day-to-day here.