Valentine’s Day is all about love.
Whether you spend it with your significant other, friends and family, gal pals, furbabies, or even just yourself (what’s up self care?) — there’s a heck of a lot to celebrate.
But for plenty of people, an impending Valentine’s Day is just plain stressful. It’s easy to feel pressure to make it special. Plus it turns out celebrating love can get real expensive real quick.
Plenty of studies have shown the negative effects stress has on the mind and the body. And with finances named as one of the top stressors among Americans, money problems can contribute to a whole host of mental and physical problems, too. Yikes.
Don’t let one day out of the year put you over the edge. Re-thinking what makes Valentine’s Day special is a great way to save some stress on your mind, your body, and your wallet.
Here are 5 money-saving Valentine’s Day ideas that don’t make you cheap
1. Spend time together
This one seems pretty easy — but it’s also pretty easy to neglect good old fashioned quality time with the people you care about most.
- Plan a low-key movie or game night
- Host a night in to just hang out together — B.Y.O. Snacks. Drinks. Whatever.
- Go on a hike or a bike ride
- Take a walk to your favorite coffee shop to catch up
- Drive somewhere scenic, or explore a part of town you’ve never been to before
- Do a totally touristy thing you’ve never done in your own town
2. Cook a meal
Cooking together can be a fun and intimate way to spend time together — and it’s a lot cheaper than going out for a prix fixe Valentine’s dinner. Even if you’re not doing the couples thing this year, you can even cook with a group of friends. Here’s how to do it.
- Pick an easy menu
- Divvy up the tasks
- Gather your tools and ingredients
- Put on some music
- Remember to taste and season as you go
- Serve it up and dig in
3. Re-think gifting
You don’t have to open a second credit card just to show someone you care. Here are some gift ideas that cost very little but mean a whole lot.
- Make a playlist or mixtape
- Share a slideshow of your favorite photos together
- Make a list of your favorite things about each other or memories you’ve shared
- Do each other’s least favorite chore
- Make your own cookbook full of special recipes
- Do a freebie challenge and gift each other only things you find for free (check Craigslist or similar sites)
- Help complete an easy to-do list task they’ve been putting off
- Give a skill or service you’re good at — art, music, design, handywork, consulting, etc.
4. Hack your perfect date
We’ll admit it. Sometimes having a totally cliche Valentine’s Day is super fun. Roses. Chocolates. Champagne. Sign us up.
With a little planning, you can still check all the classic Valentine’s Day boxes without paying an arm and a leg.
- Prioritize where to save and where to splurge
- Research any special holiday deals, coupons, and discounts
- Compare prices on dinner, flowers, etc.
- Go big the day after — seasonal candy and decorations go on major sale after every holiday
- Build your own bouquet instead of buying something pre-wrapped
- Enjoy part of the night at home — stay in and cook a meal together, then go out for drinks or dessert (or vice versa)
5. Make your own tradition
Sometimes bucking the trends and doing your own thing is way more fun and more meaningful. Plus you can avoid all the extra costs associated with the classic V-Day fanfare. Win-win.
- Volunteer somewhere together
- Run a Valentine’s Day race
- Spend time apart working on each of your individual passions
- Babysit for another couple
- Hang out with a single friend you haven’t seen in a while
Best Valentine’s Day ever
Valentine’s Day is a time to honor love of all kinds. And you definitely don’t have to spend a lot to do it. In fact, choosing not to spend a lot can make this holiday even more special than going all out.
Wanna make it even better? Show future-you some love by taking what you saved this holiday and putting it toward something long-term — like your emergency fund.
Need help setting one up? Check out our top tips for getting started.