For the budget-inclined, Valentine’s Day might seem to come at the worst possible time. You’ve just finished a holiday season filled with gift-giving and overspending on overeating and overdrinking. Now you’re expected to spend a fortune on more of the same?
You’re not a bad partner for feeling that way. Plenty of people share the sentiment. But being cost-conscious about Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you ditch the romance. Just think of it as ‘Jim and Pam’ romantic, not ‘helicopter over Niagara Falls’ romantic.
Need some suggestions? Read on for our 5 favorite frugal options.
Cook a Nice Meal at Home
For the price you’d pay at a fancy restaurant, you can buy more upscale ingredients and cook a better meal at home. The average steak costs $6 a pound, but you can pay $40 at a restaurant for the same cut. Cooking at home also means you can afford a nicer bottle of wine, a better entrée, and any accouterments your heart desires. (Stop looking at us like that. We totally knew how to spell accouterments. Definitely didn’t Google it. Nope.)
If you don’t like to cook but can’t afford to eat out, you’ve still got options. Pick up some nicer meat to make your own charcuterie spread. Grab a few nicer cheeses to create a fancy-looking cheese plate. Or stop by the local baker for tasty desserts.
See What Your City Offers
Almost every city has a slew of museums that no one visits. These small attractions often have lower admission prices and no crowds – perfect for a unique and frugal Valentine’s Day experience. Some might even offer special events in honor of the holiday.
Other bargain spots include:
- Botanic gardens,
- City, state, and national parks,
- Farmer’s markets, and
- Art galleries.
Set a Dollar Limit on Gifts
For some people, giving gifts is an important way to express their love. But if you want to have a nice dinner and an activity, a Valentine’s Day gift might put you over budget.
If you’re in that boat, consider setting a gift limit within each partner’s price range. A limit will prevent you from overspending and also avoid the awkwardness, resentment, or guilt that might otherwise arise if one partner spends much more than the other. Alternatively, you might decide not to give any presents and use the extra money for an upgraded experience.
If you really want to give a gift but don’t have the budget, consider a DIY option that focuses on thoughtfulness. A friend still talks about the year her husband took a pad of post-it notes, wrote the reasons he loved her on them, and hid them around the apartment. That’s just straight-up adorable. She didn’t find some of them until weeks later. It cost hardly anything, but our friend loved it.
Look on Groupon, etc.
Sites like Groupon and Living Social sometimes offer romantic experiences with steep discounts. Couples’ massages. Brewery tours. Dance classes. If your partner is really spontaneous, maybe try something totally new. Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled for something your partner likes or has expressed interest in before. As an added bonus, reviewing those sites might spark other ideas that you would’ve overlooked.
Enjoy Winter Sports
For much of the country, February is a dreary month full of snow and ice. Instead of lamenting the weather, try to savor it.
Ice skating, sledding, and building a snowman might seem like kids’ activities. But come on – they’re still fun. Plus, they’re a cheap alternative to traditional Valentine’s Day plans. Just make sure you have hot cocoa or hot toddies for afterward.