15 Clever Ways to Avoid Spending Too Much on Valentine’s Day

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You can show your Valentine you care, even if you’re on a budget.
Updated Feb. 21, 2024
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Couple kissing behind a balloon.

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Despite the constant battle to fight inflation and general concerns about the economy, Americans are planning to shell out some serious cash for Valentine’s Day this year.

According to a National Retail Federation survey, 53% of American consumers are planning to celebrate the annual ode to love and romance in some way. Respondents said they planned to spend an average of $185.81 on purchases related to the holiday.

However, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be pricey. There are plenty of ways to show you care and avoid wasting money. Here are 15 wonderful ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day, without overspending.

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Dinner and a movie at home

bernardbodo/Adobe Couple watching a movie

If you want to show love to a special person (or the whole family) without breaking the bank, a dinner and a movie date at home can be a great solution.

This could include ordering take-out, but if you're looking to save some cash, you may want to consider cooking a special meal yourself.

And don’t forget to check out the more romantic movie options from the streaming services you already pay for.

Breakfast in bed

New Africa/Adobe Breakfast on a tray in bed

Making your partner breakfast in bed is a great, and typically cheap, way to show you care. It will likely involve some planning ahead and getting up a little earlier than usual.

Common breakfast foods — like coffee, eggs, oatmeal, fresh fruit, and toast — tend to be affordable and can be arranged into an adorable Valentine’s Day morning surprise.

Game night

Syda Productions/Adobe Friends playing cards during game night

If a big night out is looking too expensive, consider a game night in. If you have some board games at home, you can pull them out and make a few snacks to create a fun date night.

If you don’t have board games, there are plenty of games you can get on a smartphone — like Heads Up or Psych! — that are a blast to play. They’re also free to download, though extras within the games may cost a few dollars.

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Hiking

rh2010/Adobe Senior couple hiking

This may be a better weekend before Valentine’s Day activity (so you’ll have more time).

Taking a hike is a great way to spend some quality time together and (weather permitting) enjoy the great outdoors while you enjoy each other.

Depending on the length of the hike, Valentine’s Day hikers may also be able to pack some food and have a mid-hike picnic date.

Pizza night

milanmarkovic78/Adobe Two girls eating pizza

Whether you’re making your own from scratch or ordering in, pizza nights are always a great date idea.

Some national chains — like Papa John’s and Pizza Hut — also typically offer great deals on heart-shaped pizzas around Valentine’s Day.

If you’d rather make the pie yourself, standard pizza ingredients — like pre-made crusts, sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni — tend to be inexpensive.

Picnic

Jacob Lund/Adobe Couple enjoying a picnic in the park

Weather permitting, a picnic in the park is a great (and romantic) way to spend Valentine’s Day.

Plenty of cheap foods also happen to be excellent picnicking foods — like sandwiches, hard meat and cheese boards, fruits, soda, beers, and more.

If it’s too cold to even think about sitting outside on Valentine’s Day, a picnic in the living room can be romantic, too.

Love letters

PANDA/Adobe A paper plane love letter

Couples can have a sentimental Valentine’s Day without splurging on expensive gifts. Love letters will only cost you the price of paper and a pen.

Valentine’s Day greeting cards are one of the top purchases for the holiday (second only to candy), but there’s something to be said about creating your own.

Couples can even plan to write each other love letters before the holiday and read them aloud during Valentine’s Day dinner.

Groupon deals

Daxiao Productions/Adobe Couple looking on a tablet

Websites like Groupon often have local deals for fun excursions — from dining to spa services to city tours.

You’ll likely score a bargain on something fun to do on Valentine’s Day. You may be able to save even more money if you opt to use your deal on the day before or after the actual holiday.

Bake something together

N Lawrenson/peopleimages.com/Adobe An older couple baking

Fancy Valentine’s Day cakes and cookies can get pricey. Instead, pick up a box of brownies, cake mix, or some other sweet treat to make at home for just a couple of bucks.

Baking together can be a fun after-dinner or pre-movie night activity.

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Get creative with flowers

Sanja_85/Adobe Couple smiling with flowers

Flowers are a Valentine’s Day staple. In fact, Statista found that Americans planned to spend about $2.6 billion on flowers alone for Valentine’s Day in 2024.

While a big bouquet of roses can be pricey, there are more affordable options. Independent flower shops may offer the best selection, but grocery chains have floral departments as well where shoppers can land a deal.

If you plan to order from an online delivery service, see if you can get a discount by ordering early.

Decorate your space

polinaloves/Adobe Mom and daughter making valentine hearts

Make your home feel all the more romantic by sprucing up your space. Valentine’s Day garlands, hanging decor, and faux flowers can be purchased around the holiday for cheap at many convenience and/or dollar stores.

You can decorate your whole home or designate one special area (like surprising your partner by decorating their desk).

Home spa

Inna/Adobe Spa products by a bath tub

Spa treatments, like saunas, facials, or couple’s massages, are often an expensive luxury. But with some elbow grease and a few materials, you can create a spa in your own home.

Scented candles, bubble baths or bath bombs, and a fuzzy robe and pair of slippers can make your home spa feel luxurious too.

Stargazing

Chris/Adobe Couple looking at stars

Fewer things are more romantic than a night under the stars. Weather permitting, Valentine’s Day is a great time to bundle up and throw down a blanket in the backyard or a local park.

Maybe even grab some mulled wine or spiked hot apple cider and lay out under the stars.

Wine and cheese night

Brent Hofacker/Adobe Cheese platter

A do-it-yourself wine and cheese night is one of the savvy shopper hacks that can help you save a great deal by buying a selection of cheese from local groceries and nabbing some wine from the nearest discount liquor store.

Then throw it all together with festive plates and glasses (which you can probably nab for cheap from a dollar or party specialty store).

Road trip

Prostock-studio/Adobe Couple smiling in a car

Taking a short road trip is a fun and most likely cheap (depending on exactly how far you have to drive) way to spend Valentine’s Day.

You can travel to a nearby attraction, the closest beach town, or revisit the spot where you had your first date.

If you’re feeling extra creative, you can pencil in some fun pit stops along the way, create a road trip playlist, or both.

Bottom line

Svitlana/Adobe Happy couple sitting in a trunk

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to mean shelling out cash for a $200 dinner and a $50 bouquet.

There are plenty of ways to plan meaningful experiences and gifts on the cheap, but many of them do involve a bit of financial planning and creativity. 

If you plan to head out to a restaurant to celebrate the holiday, consider using one of the best cashback credit cards that offers rewards for dining out, maybe you'll be able to use the rewards for an anniversary coming up soon.

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Author Details

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.

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