Heart-shaped chocolates, stuffed bears and bottles of champagne are common gifts on Valentine’s Day. After a few days, the bouquet of roses wilts and the chocolates have all been eaten. But the credit card bill with your Valentine’s Day purchases has yet to arrive.
The average couple spends more than $100 on Valentine’s Day, a drop in the bucket for some, but a significant amount for others. Want to celebrate your love this year without going in the red? It’s possible. You don’t have to blow your whole paycheck to prove how much you love your sweetie.
Read below to see our ideas for a Valentine’s Day experience that won’t break your budget or your significant other’s heart.
Create a Spa at Home
Couples massages and spa days are luxurious, but often cost several hundred dollars when you add in tax and tip. For that amount, you can buy bubble bath, essential oils, and body lotion, and still have money left over. Plus, you can reuse those products long after Valentine’s Day is over. Date night massage anyone?
Find a romantic playlist on Spotify and surprise your spouse with a relaxing evening. Your hands might not be as skilled as a professional, but the thought will make a greater impression.
Cook an Elaborate Meal Together
Champagne, steak, lobster, and dessert at a fancy restaurant can easily run more than $100. Instead, visit your local butcher and fish market to make your own version. Plus, cooking together on Valentine’s Day will strengthen your bond more than ordering off the same menu.
If the meal goes well, you’ll have another recipe to add to your arsenal. If it doesn’t, you’ll have a fun story. My husband and I still talk about the time we cooked lasagna together on Valentine’s Day and how the kitchen was splattered with pasta sauce everywhere.
You can pair the meal with a bottle of wine and some desserts from a local bakery. Your total will still equal less than $100 with enough for leftovers.
Break a Sweat
This Valentine’s Day, get active. No we don’t mean that kind. Hit up the batting cage or driving range for a sports-themed date night. Admission is usually less than $50 for two people for an hour. You can also take a boxing class, acroyoga, or simply play a game of hoops. Participating in an activity together will leave you more memories than another steak dinner.
Use Discount Sites
Groupon and LivingSocial offer unique opportunities with huge discounts. You can find wine tastings, dance classes and sushi dinners for less than the retail value. Many of these deals come with specific restrictions so read carefully before planning your Valentine’s Day activities. Some might limit their holiday use while others require that you come in at a certain time to redeem.
Some cities have their own discount programs where you can buy a coupon book for local spots. Your town’s visitor center website might have more information if this is something they offer.
Cash in Credit Card Rewards
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to cash in credit card rewards that you aren’t using. Many card providers allow you to redeem points for gift cards that you can use at restaurants and movie theaters.
For example, Chase cardholders have access to gift cards from Regal and AMC movie theaters and a slew of chain restaurants such as Red Lobster, Olive Garden and PF Chang’s. It might not be as romantic as dinner at a local bistro, but it’ll be free.
Need further inspiration? Here are some more suggestions on how to enjoy Valentine’s Day on a budget:
- Create art together. Couples can pick out pottery and decorate it together at ceramic studios. Wine and Canvas events are popular even for people who don’t feel artistic. Not only will you create something with your partner, but you’ll have a lifelong souvenir of that particular Valentine’s Day.
- Break out together. Puzzle rooms have swept the nation in popularity and what better way to demonstrate your teamwork than by getting out of a room together? Admission is usually between $25 and $30, and you have an hour to complete the challenge.
- Tackle trivia. Most bars have a free weekly trivia night. Grab a couple beers and try to prove your smarts with your spouse. You might be surprised at the minutiae that your lover knows. Plus, it could become a regular tradition.
- Picnic in the living room. Valentine’s Day is still in the middle of winter for most people, so an outdoor picnic is unlikely. Lay down a blanket in the living room, fix a charcuterie plate and enjoy the quiet surroundings. You can pop in your favorite movie, put on a romantic record or enjoy an intimate conversation.
Whichever idea you go with, remember that you’ll be saving money while making memories. You can extend this frugal-entertainment mindset to Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries. As long as you’re together and happy, do you really need to splurge?
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