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Plan a Budget-Friendly (And Romantic) Valentine’s Day Date Night

Aly Walansky  |  February 7, 2023

More money doesn’t make your Valentine’s date more special. Check out these budget-friendly and romantic Valentine's Day date ideas. 

Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular date nights of the year, which is why it can also be the most expensive. Between flowers, candy and a gift and then a pricey meal at a hot restaurant, stressing over your budget may be getting in the way of concentrating about what’s really important – that you’re with someone you love. So, why not cut all those high-priced bits out? Valentine’s Day should be about you and your partner. Everything else is extra. So, plan a special and romantic dinner date at home – and you may discover the sparks fly like never before. Check out these suggestions for planning budget-friendly Valentine’s Day date nights:

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Keep it Low-Key

There can be a lot of pressure to go all out on Valentine’s Day, but you can keep it low-key and still make it meaningful. “Try to personalize the date so that it includes elements that are personal to both of you whether it’s going to the park where you had your first date or recreating the first meal you had together,” says Consumer Analyst Julie Ramhold with DealNews.com.

Skip the pricey restaurant and create a date night in with your favorite snacks and movies. “This is a great way to still celebrate without going broke and making the holiday mean more than if you just spring for an expensive meal at a restaurant that’s probably difficult to get into because everybody else had the same idea,” says Ramhold.

Celebrate your history

Did you meet while in high school? Or maybe you found one another after age 50 on a rainy sidewalk in New York. Every romance has a story. “Your love story is one and only because each of us is a unique individual. Make sure to let them know why you chose them then and why you continue to choose them today,” says says Diana Yáñez, certified financial planner and registered life planner, and founder of All the Colors. 

Cook a meal together

No one needs to go to a high-priced steakhouse, especially if it’s not in the budget. Those hot new restaurants tend to be noisy, crowded, and then they rush you out to make room for the next seating. There’s nothing special and romantic about that. Instead, work together to plan a menu for the big night, and then do it all together. Plan the dishes, plan the drinks, shop together, and then you can cook together. It’ll be low pressure, romantic, and maybe even delicious.

Set up a theater night in

If you can set up a projector to show a favorite movie, it’ll make it even better, but watching on TV is perfectly fine too. “Pick up some theater boxes of candy at Target (they’re usually $1.29 or under) add movie theater style popcorn and set up a cozy blanket in front of the TV to recreate the theater setting without the theater prices. And you won’t have to worry about other patrons being too loud and ruining the vibe for you, so it’s a win-win,” says Ramhold.

Create a scavenger hunt

 If you’ve been together long enough, this could be an extensive task, but it can also be a fun and off-the-wall way to celebrate that doesn’t have to cost much. “Pick at least a handful of places to direct your partner to and at the end of it all, treat them to something small like coffee, a baked treat, ice cream, or even their favorite appetizer from their favorite restaurant,” says Ramhold. By keeping the end reward small, you can end up with a celebration that’s relatively cheap and still have a nice treat that’s more than just the same heart-shaped box of chocolates so many other people are getting.

Take a walk down the memory lane

“Plan an evening of visiting all the old memories from your relationship for romantic entertainment that will bring back the butterflies without burning a hole in your wallet,” says Snigdha Kumar, financial health expert and head of product operations at Digit. This could include (going through) all of your photo albums, reading love letters from the past or even watching your wedding or engagement videos.

Recreate your first date

For a budget-friendly and special way to celebrate, it could be fun to recreate the first time you met or the first time you felt a connection, suggests Kumar.  Get dressed as you would’ve at the time and then head to the spot where you went for your first date. Usually, first dates are not dates we splurge on so this activity is likely to be fun and romantic but cost effective!

Here are even more Valentine’s Day tips to find bargains and not burn a hole in your wallet:

Skip the flowers

Flowers are not essential. We just think they are. “Flowers are sold at a premium on Valentine’s Day, so instead of paying higher prices, try buying a small potted plant,” says Kumar. This way, you can not only save money but also give a long-lasting gift. Flowers typically last less than a week, but a potted plant can be a symbol of your love that will continue to grow.

Ditch the physical gift

Instead of giving a physical gift, you can give “acts of service” to your loved one, says Kumar. For instance, you can create a jar with coupons for different services that your special someone can cash in throughout the year. Some examples are a massage session, offering to do the chores for your significant other, Netflix movie choosing rights and more.

Use online discount coupons for gifts

If you really want to buy a gift, look online for discount coupons. “Many websites such as Groupon and Ibotta have great deals that can help you get the perfect gift for your partner without breaking the bank,” says Kumar. “You don’t need a 5-star restaurant, fancy getaway or an expensive gift to connect with your special someone. All you need is quality time and activities that bring back the butterflies in your relationship.” 


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