Celebrating Valentine’s Day On A Budget

Celebrating Valentine's Day on a Budget

photo credit: jchapiewsky via Flickr

Back when I was in college, I dated a guy who went waaaay over the top on Valentine’s Day.  An expensive dinner, a bouquet of two dozen(!) long-stem roses, a pile of stuffed animals, and an entire French silk pie.  And you know what?  We ended up breaking up about two weeks later.

You see, it’s not at all about how much money you spend on someone.  It’s about being with the right person. And  despite what Hallmark wants you to believe, Valentine’s Day does not have to be a giant budget buster.

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Now that I’m married to the man of my dreams and we’re on a quest to be debt-free, we’ve come to realize the joy of celebrating Valentine’s Day on a budget.  We realize that the time we spend together is more important than the money spent.

Here are a few ways you can scale back on Valentine’s Day without scaling back on sentiment.

Flowers.  You don’t have to buy roses.  You don’t have to buy a dozen flowers to show someone you care.  A single rose can be very romantic at a fraction of the cost.  If you want your gift to be remembered long after Valentine’s Day is over, get your significant other a houseplant.  A flowering cactus or a Peace Lily can bring joy for years to come.

Candy.  I have an incredible sweet tooth.  I adore chocolate. But all that heart-shaped goodness in the stores is several overpriced.  Pick up some Lindor Truffles, Dove, or Hersheys for a lot less money.  You could give roses made from Hershey’s Kisses, or spell out a special message in M&M’s.  Or if you really want to impress on a budget?  Bake something sweet or make a decadent cheesecake.

Cards.  Greeting cards are expensive.  And most of the one’s for Valentine’s Day always seem to be either incredibly sappy or all about jumping someone’s bones.  Yikes!  Make your own Valentine’s Day cards from scrapbooking papers or create a special personalized photo greeting card for your sweetheart.  Create a card that will be remembered forever for a lot less money than what you’d pay at the store.

Gifts.  Skip the expensive gifts and think experiences instead.  Create a coupon book of love coupons.  Take a walk in a romantic locale, put together a collection of special songs for you to share.  No one needs giant pink teddy bears and heart-shaped jewelry.  Really.

Dinner.  A Valentine’s Day dinner at a restaurant is overrated.  You usually have to have a reservation. You have to dress up and you have to have some serious money.  And in return, the restaurant service is usually slow, the food underwhelming, and the entire place is loud and crowded.

You could schedule your celebration on a different night and probably save some cash. Or you could just have a dessert date – where you only go out for dessert and coffee.  But I’d rather stay home and make a special candlight dinner instead.  Even if you’re serving steak and lobster, you’ll save a ton of money making it at home.  And you’ll have fun whipping up the meal together.  You could make a fancy meal or share a picnic on a blanket in your candlelit living room.  For those of you with little kids at home, you won’t even have to worry about finding a babysitter (another expense!).  Simply plan your celebration for after they’ve been put to bed.

It’s possible to show someone you care without lavishing a ton of money on them.  The important thing is that you spend time cultivating your relationship with the person you love.

To paraphrase the Beatles – Money can’t buy you love.

Now it’s your turn:  What things do you do to make Valentine’s Day special without breaking the bank?

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About Christina Brown

Christina is a wife and mother dedicated to figuring out how to live a simpler, happier life on a budget.


  1. says

    My husband & I started dating my last year of undergrad and, of course we were poor college students so we put a $5 cap each on how much we could spend for Valentine’s day, which meant a homemade card, a special meal at home, & a movie rental.

    Then along came Papa Murphy’s with their Heart shaped pizza (which I think is $6-7 now, but was $5 when they started) and $1 Redbox rentals and we started a tradition that we still continue today with our kids.

    But if you must buy flowers, check out Aldis if you have them around you. They don’t jack up flower prices for Valentine’s Day and you can get a half dozen rose for $3.99. And in the past our HyVee will sell a dozen for $9.99, cash & carry.

  2. Michaela says

    My husband and I like to put on a favorite musical artist (usually something relaxing) and make dinner together. Then after clean up, we lounge on the couch and watch a movie. Valentine’s Day rarely falls on a weekend. Who wants to rush home from work, get dolled up, and go out to an over crowded restaurant? Not me!

    Christina, I love these kinds of posts! They really get the creative juices flowing. :)

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