INDIANAPOLIS — As gas and food prices increase, it’s getting hard to do a date night within budget. FORUM Credit Union CEO Andy Mattingly has some ways to not let inflation dampen your fun.

What are keys to frugal living that might help all of us have the money for fun activities?

Frugal living is really about prioritizing your money and focusing on what is most important to you while cutting out spending on items that don’t matter. For example, maybe having a less expensive house or car or even clothes can help you have more money to spend elsewhere.  It means trading services, creative reuse of items for needs and buying used when it is a better value. That is the key concept of the frugal lifestyle and it might be one of the most important keys to saving your date night experiences. Plus using little frugal living strategies for date night might help lower the cost. If you have less money to spend and also spend less on your activities you can still have the same number of activities and remember don’t focus on price instead focus on value.

How can couples use frugal living and still have a fun date night?

It starts with determining with your partner what matters the most to both of you. Is it the activity, the time together, or doing something new that will make it fun? If you truly utilize frugality with your date night there really are a lot of options. It could be cooking a new meal together on a regular basis, going out for dessert only instead of the whole meal, or even ordering takeout and enjoying your own adult drinks at home. For more active date activities, consider hiking a national or state park or visiting farmers’ markets to buy what you need for the week. Even taking walks and then treating yourselves to ice cream or a cool drink while on the walk can be something you both will enjoy.

Are there frugal ways to have fun with your family or group of friends?

This is maybe where embracing a frugal lifestyle won’t seem like cutting back at all. Family game nights or having friends over for a night of games with a “bring your own food and drinks” plan is just the start. You can have a group over and show movies outside with a simple projector with everyone bringing their own movie treats. If your apartment complex or subdivision has a pool or common area, this could be another great opportunity for gatherings during the warm weather. Or start a hiking club and visit different parks each weekend that all end with food pitch-ins around a campfire. Spending time like this with your friends and family will make a lot of great memories.

Are there any other ways that living a frugal lifestyle can help you reduce expenses?

There are several opportunities to utilize frugal living to make a difference in your expenses. Start by looking at everything you buy and determine if there is a lower cost or if you even still needed it. For example, scan the grocery list and determine what you are buying you are using or throwing out. Other ideas include: have a meal plan to avoid last-minute eating out; make extra and freeze for those hectic days; grocery shop less often to avoid temptations; look for better deals on services from mobile phones to streaming services including putting up with ads to save money; and one final thought, be smart with your living space from temperate settings to maintenance if you are a homeowner.