What to Do When a Fancy Valentine’s Day Isn’t in the Budget

Budget-Savvy Ideas for Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Does the approaching Valentine’s Day make your heart race for all the wrong reasons? You’ve found your mind running laps trying to piece together an extravaganza to out-do yourself from last year. You don’t have all the details yet but feel certain it’s going to set back your budget.

Well, my friend, commercialism has taken its hold on you and dug its claws in deep. I’m here to shake you free.

Many jaded lovers would say Valentine’s Day was invented by the greeting card companies and quickly adopted by the novelty gift industry. According to the History program, this perception isn’t completely wrong.

Though, it’s difficult to say how or what kicked off the tradition of celebrating this day, in all accounts it began with simple expressions of love in the form of greetings or poems. With the development of mass printing in the late 1800s, businesses dealing in love were born and the Valentine’s Day craze began.

In recent decades, Valentine’s Day has ballooned from its origin, setting the expectation that heartfelt notes also be accompanied by chocolates, jewelry, flowers, and a fancy date activity. Just last year, it was estimated that consumers would spend on average over $140 on gifts alone. Ouch.

In reality, for healthy relationships, Valentine’s should not promise anything at all. To anticipate a solicited expression of love is to act a bit entitled, don’t you think? To set this expectation every Valentine’s Day will surely backfire on the goal of the celebration.

Admittedly, it’s easy to get caught up in the social media and advertising buzz. You or your partner might feel as though a lack of effort to celebrate is some reflection of one’s own personal worth. If you don’t buy each other diamonds, you certainly don’t share anything worth bragging about. What a false statement. Bottomline? The bigger the price tag does not mean the deeper the love.

If you and your partner truly believe that notion you might forego Valentine’s celebrations all together. But the opportunity to nurture your love should not be undervalued either. You need not pass it up. Simply, opt for far more effective, yet modest methods.

Consider mixing and matching some of my suggestions below to cut costs while crafting a Valentine’s you’ll both cherish.

Budget Valentine’s Gifts

Idea #1

Spark positive feelings in your S.O. by finding or making a gift that shows investment in your relationship. It can be as simple as taking the time to print past photos and putting them in a frame or album. The technologically savvy might take to a free app to create a shareable video collage that will pop up as a memory for years to come. This may be especially effective for those who find difficulty in verbally communicating their feelings as thoughtfully selected images can express sentiments that go beyond words.

Idea #2

Everyone enjoys receiving compliments, but they are especially meaningful from those who have seen us at both our best and our worst. In the days leading up to Valentine’s Day make a list with two columns for the qualities that you and others admire about your partner. Label an envelope and stick the list inside. You can present it on Valentine’s day but be sure that the recipient tucks it away some place safe afterward. It can provide unparalleled encouragement on a hard day down the road.

Idea #3

Most people are delighted by a well-played surprise. You’ll have to judge if your S.O. falls into this category. If so, there are many budget-friendly ways to pull one off. You could:

Cook dinner using a new technique or ingredient.

Check off something that’s been on the chore list.

Pack them a special lunch.  

Pop into their office to drop off their favorite treat.

Ramp up your affection by flooding their inbox with flirty messages and initiate touch more often than usual.


Valentine’s Dinner on a budget

Choosing a less costly option for dinner not only saves you money, but also the headache of securing a reservation.

Idea #1

Arrange a couple’s potluck. You’ll get to enjoy a fancy spread at a fraction of the restaurant price. Break into couples for a competition in the style of “The Newlywed Game,” whip out Twister, or play Battle of the Sexes to complete the evening.

Idea #2

Enjoy a light and simple dinner in, then head out to a local hotspot for drinks, dessert, and dancing.

Idea #3

Fancy is overrated. Don’t be afraid to eat food you enjoy just because it’s cheap. Grab a hot dog or enjoy not-so-average sandwiches and snacks while on a stroll. Pop into a hole-in-the-wall deli before setting out for an activity. The more unusual and out of the ordinary, the more points you score.

inexpensive Valentine’s Entertainment

Idea #1

Pool your resources. Can you score a discount on a local attraction through a club membership, your credit card, or your credit union? Might you be able to borrow something to enhance the night such as a vehicle to take you star gazing, a private property, a classic black and white movie, a Jacuzzi, or outdoor items like sports gear, bicycles, or a rifle? There is a low-cost activity out there that will fit the stage and vibe of your relationship perfectly. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

Idea #2

Need a little help brainstorming the event of the night? Consider one of the following websites for help:


Adopt a fresh pair of eyes by checking TripAdvisor for tourist favorites in your community. You may find a hidden gem such as a garden, hiking trail, or gallery.


Unique offers and packages are offered on Groupon every day. In our area there’s currently deals on wine tours, scavenger hunts around the city, trial yoga lessons, and a ropes course that includes a meal at the café. What might you find?


If you aren’t bent on solitude, MeetUp can be a great way to get out on the town without breaking the budget. You can get the group rate on things like plays, painting lessons, sports games and more. There are many free meet ups as well for dancing, photography walks, and trivia nights!

Idea #3

Intimacy is needed by both parties in a relationship so if you feel that this element has been neglected, it could be just the thing to reestablish this Valentine’s. Consider ways to incorporate some sauciness into the night. Could you teach your partner a dance that calls for closeness? Check out a romance novel to read together? Maybe the key is nothing more than organizing a sleep over for the kids at their grandparent’s house or getting them into bed early to allow for true alone time.

This Valentine’s Day don’t settle for going through the motions. Don’t feel like less because you choose not to spend more than others or more than last year. Ignore the usual checklist and pair together a few of these budget-friendly suggestions to grow a love built on feelings and not things. That’s a love that’s sure to last.