7 Ideas for a Budget-Friendly Valentine's Day

Whether you're engaged or newlyweds, here's how to celebrate February 14 without breaking the bank

Updated 01/26/18

Photo by Peter Van Beever

Valentine's Day is coming, and if you're recently engaged or a newlywed, that makes the holiday even more exciting! It can also be stressful figuring out how to properly appreciate Cupid's big day without dipping into your wedding budget, or spending a lot of money you don't have after paying off credit cards from your big day.

There's a gross misconception that, once you're engaged or married, Valentine's Day becomes a more important and significant holiday, and it must be acknowledged with jewelry or other "permanent" gifts. Of course, we all like to open up a present and find some bling inside — but it certainly isn't a requirement for demonstrating your love for one another.

Take it from us, having a special Valentine's Day has almost nothing to do with how much money you spend on special activities or gifts. In fact, some of the most romantic Valentine's Day gifts or date ideas don't require an expensive trip or dinner that will clog up your credit card at all. Instead, check out seven equally fun and sentimental ideas for Valentine's Day on a budget.

1. Plan a romantic dinner in your house, but get dressed up.

Whoever plans your night gets to dictate the attire. So if you want to get sexy and wear fish-nets and a fancy dress, go for it. (Just do the messy cooking first!)

2. Even if neither of you ever seems to have time to meet for lunch during a busy workday, plan it ahead.

Just the fact you get to see each other in the middle of the day will be something special, romantic and different. If the weather is nice, you don't have to go to a restaurant. A romantic picnic could be fabulous.

3. Plan a scavenger hunt for each other, with special notes at each stopping point.

You don't even have to leave your house — although that can make it more adventurous. At the end of the hunt, you get to meet up and exchange little gifts that you've purchased on a pre-agreed upon budget.

4. Plan a romantic evening at home with no TV and no social media.

Make a playlist for each other — and listen to all the songs together. And dance! But cocoon yourself in music and romance and block out the rest of the world until February 15th.

5. Take a trip down memory lane — it's practically free!

Recreate one of the best-ever dates you and your significant other had before you were married or engaged. If your first date was record-breaking, start right there! Go back to a restaurant you particularly enjoyed for dinner. Or rent the movie you first saw together in the theater, the night you realized you both had the same sense of humor.

6. Go shopping for gifts together, but set a very specific limit on what each of you may spend, and shop for yourselves!

The rule is that you may give any leftover money to your spouse to add to their own shopping kitty. When couples do this, typically neither one of them ends up spending money on themselves. The result is basically a glorified window-shopping trip. If nobody spends any money (and that happens frequently), you can pool the funds and go out to dinner, or buy something together for your household that you actually need as a Valentine's gift to yourselves from both of you.

7. Spend Valentine's Day with somebody who doesn't have their own Valentine to cuddle up with that day.

Love's biggest holiday can be very, very painful for someone who has recently lost a loved one, or a partner. Unwilling to interrupt anybody else's love life, they're not likely to ask for attention that day, even though they really, truly need it. If you're happily married or soon-to-be-married, every day is a special holiday for you, and you can afford to dedicate some time on Valentine's Day to spread the love around to somebody who really needs it. Think of an elderly relative or neighbor who might not receive a hug and kiss from anybody else on February 14th, and make brightening up their day a special couples' project for you and your partner.

You're lucky enough to have each other.

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