Valentine’s Day on a Budget [21 Affordable Ideas]

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Valentine's Day on a Budget

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and I’ve been dropping some serious hints for my husband.

My husband is my best friend and I love him dearly.

But when it comes to dropping hints, you need to be as subtle as a hand grenade!

So, this past weekend, I decided to sit down at my small table outside, and type up a list of things that I would LOVE to do during our future Valentine’s Days together.

But… shockingly, did you know that…

valentines day average consumer spending statistic 1

Image: The Millennial Money Woman | Source: recordonline

When I read this statistic, I knew that Valentine’s Day was not necessarily healthy for our budget

So, I decided to revamp my Valentine’s Day wish list to include the following: 

  • Fun ways to celebrate 
  • Easy ways to celebrate
  • Cost-efficient ways to celebrate

And most importantly, my Valentine’s Day wish list kept our budget in check!

Remember that you can still enjoy your Valentine’s Day on a budget.

What truly matters who you are spending Valentine’s Day with.

Best Budgeting Tools


Budgeting is a millionaire planning tool.

Before we even get into the fancy Valentine’s Day date night ideas, I think it’s important to remind you of why you’re even reading this blog post: To stay in line with your budget.

Keep in mind that your Valentine’s Day expenses fall under the discretionary expense category.

My typical rule of thumb is spending less than 20% of your after-tax (ie net) monthly income on discretionary expenses. 

Check out my budgeting rules of thumb below:

The Type of Expense Budgeting Rule of Thumb
Monthly housing debt
< 28% of gross monthly income
Total consumer / discretionary debt
< 20% of net monthly income
Total monthly debt payments
< 36% of gross monthly income
Retirement & savings
> 10% of gross monthly income

Although these are simply “rules of thumb” and will never add up to 100% entirely, I would suggest keeping your discretionary expenses as low as possible to build wealth.

Now, for those of you who are looking for some of the best budgeting apps out there, to not just keep you in line with your Valentine’s Day spending but also with your other spending habits, I have 2 recommendations:

My first recommendation if you’re just starting out with your budgeting journey is to check out Simplifi.

Simplifi, as the name implies, is a budgeting app that is so simple and easy to operate. It does cost $3.99 a month to use, yet I’d say it provides one of the best overviews of your cash flows that I’ve seen.

Simplifi really shines in the following 2 areas:

  • Budgeting
  • Ease of use
  • Goal-setting
  • Spending tracking
  • Extremely customizable

Now, I realize that not everyone is in the mood to spend $3.99 a month to track their expenses, where they could be receiving similar help for free. 

So, if you are more experienced with your financial picture and want to find a budgeting app that offers free services, then check out Personal Capital.

Personal Capital offers a great (and free) budgeting tool that you can use to monitor your income and expense picture. 

Personal Capital, in my opinion, is an app for the more experienced individual because it also offers you:

  • Net worth overview
  • Savings planner tools
  • Retirement planner tools
  • Investment management platform (if you have $100,000 or more)

As you can see, Personal Capital is a little more complex than Simplifi but offers excellent services for free (unless you use the investment management service).

And finally, if you want to stay on track with your budget and want a DIY budget template, then check out my free budgeting template, below.

budget template background 2

Free Budgeting Templates

Sign up below to receive my free budgeting templates and my latest content updates to help you achieve millionaire status.

Now that we’ve reviewed some of those budgeting basics – it may be a little dry but trust me, budgeting is a millionaire planning tool – let’s jump into how you can make your Valentine’s Day awesome while still staying on budget.

Valentine’s Day with No Money

the millennial money woman blog post "valentine's day with no money ideas"

1. Take a Drive Down Memory Lane (Literally!)


One of the sweetest ways to enjoy yourself and your partner is to take a trip down memory lane – literally!

My husband and I did this for our anniversary a few months ago, and it was just wonderful – it seemed like our first few moments together replayed themselves right before our eyes. 

So, here’s what you can do for Valentine’s Day with your significant other:

  • Go at night
  • Listen to your favorite soundtrack
  • Take some popcorn, cookies or other food with you

All you have to do is relax and relive your first date(s) together.

That always brings a warm and fuzzy feeling to my heart.

2. Pack a Picnic


Believe it or not, I think my husband and I are going to do this for this year’s (2021) Valentine’s Day – packing a picnic and eating it on the beach while watching the sunset.

Since we live in the greater Miami area, in Florida, we have the luxury of eating outdoors in February (although it can be a bit chilly at night). 

Make sure to pack some of the following:

  • Trash bags
  • Picnic blanket
  • Some sweet treats
  • Napkins (lots of them!)
  • Camera to take pictures
  • Thermos can with a warm drink
  • Thick blankets for you and your partner

The first time my husband and I went on a picnic, we forgot to bring one of the most important things – the picnic blanket – and sand went everywhere (we ate at the beach). 

That’s a mistake we won’t be making twice!

3. Massages, Manis, and Pedis


This is one of those Valentine’s Day date ideas that I’ve been trying to hint at. Hard.

I’m not really sure if my husband has picked up on this yet, but trust me, I’ll keep trying harder. 

By massages, manis, and pedis I mean this:

  • Instead of going to the beauty salon and spending mucho dinero
  • Have your significant other be the masseuse and the nail specialist all in one

Ok, granted, I’m not sure about the nail part… unless your partner is super precious. 

But the massage part?

I’d take that any time of day.

And the best part is that you won’t be spending north of $100 for massages, manicures and pedicures.

4. Volunteer


Guys & Gals – volunteering may sound cheesy at first but volunteering can be so much fun and a wonderful bonding experience with your partner.

Plus, many benefits come with volunteering.

Check out some of the volunteering pros below:

  • Fun
  • Fulfilling
  • Makes you happy
  • Bonding experience
  • Improves your confidence
  • Improves your social skills
  • You are making a positive impact
  • Connects you with like-minded people

My husband and I have volunteered before at a soup kitchen (not for Valentine’s Day) and I honestly don’t ever remember us feeling unhappy for volunteering together. 

It was only ever a positive experience. 

Check out some ways you, too, can volunteer with your significant other for Valentine’s Day below:

Volunteer Opportunity Description

Find the right volunteering opportunity for you, based on your:

- Interests
- Volunteer type
- Location

Find the right volunteering opportunity for you, based on your:

- Local community

- International preference

Find the right volunteering opportunity for you, based on your location in the United States

Fight against animal cruelty

Sometimes giving your time through volunteering instead of giving your money can mean so much more.

Enjoy!

5. Ice Skating Date Night


Who has ever dreamed of going ice skating on a date night? 

Ice skating is a blast and comes with several benefits:

  • Fun
  • Exercise
  • Bonding 
  • Romantic

Now, ice skating for your Valentine’s Day date may not be the best idea if:

  • One partner is highly experienced and the other is highly inexperienced 

However, you could always turn this into a positive and turn it into a bonding and learning session where the experienced partner can help the inexperienced partner. 

If you do want to go on an ice skating date night, then make sure you:

  • Confirm that ice skating is in line with your budget
  • Determine whether tickets should be reserved
  • Don’t ice skate to impress the other person
  • Bring your own ice skates or rent them
  • Select your ice skating rink in advance
  • Brush up on basic skills
  • Bring warm clothes

Ice skating would be a perfect opportunity to fall in love all over again with your partner – and this is something I hope my husband and I can do too – in Florida!

6. Go Dancing


I absolutely love dancing and I think it’s a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your significant other. 

Dancing can be:

  • Fun 
  • Cost-efficient
  • A step outside of your comfort zone

Believe it or not, my husband is actually a great dancer!

Sadly, when I try to coax him to dance with me in public, he refuses vehemently.

So in my case, my husband and I will be:

  • Dancing at home
  • Our French Bulldog will be our audience

Keep in mind that there are so many different dances out there.

The most common (and arguably most graceful) genre of dance is ballroom.

Some forms of ballroom dancing include:

  • Waltz
  • Tango
  • Bolero
  • Swing
  • Rumba
  • Quickstep

Even if you both are not familiar with these dance types, you could always go to your local dance studio for Valentine’s Day and see if you can take up a beginner’s course.

It’s such a blast. 

Time to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

7. Check out your local Planetarium


This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while – checking out our local planetarium.

The only drawback that I’ve noticed recently is that due to COVID most planetariums are closed, so you may have to come up with your own planetarium:

  • Take your date outdoors and go stargazing
  • Bring a warm blanket, a candle and a small picnic

I know this idea could be seen as a little “nerdy,” but then again, it’s a fun (and cost-efficient) way to spend your Valentine’s Day.

8. Recreate your First Date


I would LOVE to do this with my husband – recreating our first date. 

This might not be as cost-efficient as my other Valentine’s Day date ideas, especially if your first date was in a restaurant or movie theater, but hear me out. 

For our first date, my husband and I:

  • Met at an outdoor restaurant by the ocean
  • Talked until we closed down the restaurant 
  • Strolled together under the moonlit stars and sky

Our first date was the epitome of perfect. 

Now, keep in mind that if you plan on using your credit card to recreate your first date, don’t forget to use a top cash-back savings program like Dosh.

Dosh automatically deposits your cash back into your bank accounts after your purchases from partner retailers or brands. There is virtually no work required for you other than signing up to the platform.

9. Hit the Cardio


This idea came from my husband – not so much me. 

For those of you who are not aware, my husband is a sports nut.

He loves anything to do with:

  • Yoga
  • Weights
  • Running
  • Walking
  • Jumping
  • Meditation

…you get the point. 

So, while I was on my quest to save money, have fun and stay safe with COVID for this year’s Valentine’s Day, I was thinking why not do some workout together?

Now, I’m not going to be all sports-nutty on Valentine’s Day, but I would imagine an ideal cardio together would be something like the following:

  • Take a brisk walk together (preferably the sandy ocean shores)
  • Roll out the yoga mats and do some moves during sunset
  • Practice meditation after our workout is done

Now that would be a fun, no-cost, bonding experience!

Affordable Valentine’s Day Ideas

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10. Get the Best Cash Back Deals


I’m guilty of it too… I buy things for my husband because I know he likes them and I know they will make him happy. 

Seeing him happy makes me happy. 

Yes, I’m not a 100% frugalist. 

I splurge smartly. 

Now, one of the ways that I splurge smartly is by using some of the best cash back deals there are – including using the app known as Slide.

Slide

Earn 4% cash back instantly – every day

Slide is one of the fastest and most efficient ways for you to earn 4% of your cash back every day, all day (hopefully not all day, though). 

Here’s why Slide is a great way to enjoy your Valentine’s Day while still staying on budget:

  • You receive unlimited 4% cash back on all purchases made at the 150+ partner stores with Slide 
  • The partner stores are located in around 100,000 U.S. stores
  • You can earn the 4% cash back either online or in-store

Just as you’re about to checkout of your restaurant or store, here’s what you do:

  • Open your Slide app
  • Select the place you’re about to checkout from
  • Type-in the total payment amount
  • Enter your code from Slide online or have the cashier scan your code in-store
  • Start earning 4% cashback instantaneously 

Now, total disclosure, Slide is an awesome way to save money – but not the only way. I’ve also been a fan favorite of Honey as well as Ibotta (more on that below).

11. Homemade Valentine’s Day Sweets


If you and your partner have a sweet tooth – especially for Valentine’s Day – why not team up together and bake some cool treats?

My husband and I have done this a few times (we baked a chocolate chip cake) and it was SUCH a fun time.

Here’s how we divided the responsibility:

Husband’s Responsibility My Responsibility
Analyzing the list of ingredients
Preparing husband for his responsibility
Calculating how much of each ingredient we need
Preparing the kitchen for our cooking endeavor
Preparing the ingredients for me to use
Mixing the ingredients together
Communicating when to use which ingredient
DJ’ing and the music

Below are some Valentine’s Day ideas you can bake with your significant other:

  • Strawberry smoothie
  • M&M Cookie bar
  • Cupcakes
  • Cookies
  • Cake

My mouth is watering just by reading the many different things you and your partner can bake together!

Keep in mind, baking homemade Valentine’s Day sweets is a fantastic way to:

  • Bond
  • Have fun
  • Stay on budget
  • Eat delicious treats

Now go and enjoy!

12. Scrapbook of your Memories


You know, I absolutely love scrapbooking as a Valentine’s Day idea – it’s certainly on a budget but more so, it’s probably one of the most beautiful and loving things you can do for you and your partner. 

Be warned: If you want to make the perfect scrapbook, you will have to plan in advance.

Here are some things you can do for your scrapbook:

  • Save any ticket stubs or wrist bands from events
  • Use a “road map” as your background
  • Save anything from your experiences
  • Cut out your photos together
  • Write personal messages
  • Add stickers

As to what you put into your scrapbook, that’s totally up to you. 

Below are some sections I’d put into the scrapbook:

  • Funny Photos
  • Your music playlist
  • Then versus today pictures
  • Letters to open at a future date
  • List of reasons why I love you pictures
  • Magazine clips of what your future will look like 
  • Pictures of your sweetest text messages to each other

Keep in mind that scrapbooking will take some pre-planning and time.

But this is a gift that anyone would love to receive (and make!) while still being conscientious of your budget.

13. Innovate your Lives


Hear me out on this one: My husband and I are true entrepreneurs and we LOVE leveling up with every opportunity. 

If you and your significant other also want to:

  • Learn something new
  • Level up in life
  • Have fun
  • Bond

…Then why not treat yourselves to learning how to innovate your lives for Valentine’s Day? 

My husband and I have taken some of the courses offered through Mindvalley before, and we love the things you can learn there.

Mindvalley teaches you all the things you wish you learned in school.

For example, you can learn how to:

  • Think bolder 
  • Be more positive
  • Achieve your goals
  • Make a larger impact
  • Improve productivity

I think Mind Valley really works if you and your partner are looking to craft a better and more successful life for both of you. 

Why not use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to build the life you want and begin transforming your worlds together?

14. Escape Rooms!


Do you know what I absolutely LOVE? 

Escape Rooms!

My husband formerly served in the military, so he loves figuring out tactical drills on how to get out of a time-sensitive, pressure-filled situation.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Escape Rooms, let’s check out the definition.

I would LOVE to go to an Escape Room, but my husband and I are planning to stay away from them for now, due to COVID. Perhaps an idea for the future.

Escape Rooms have many benefits, including:

  • Fun
  • Bonding
  • Team skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Creates awesome memories
  • Improved communication skills
  • Increases your level of satisfaction

Honestly, Escape Rooms are a blast and I love being “placed” into a different world where I can be the detective (I love mystery stories).

15. Coupon


Sometimes, you just can’t help yourself and want to buy your partner something for Valentine’s Day. 

That’s perfectly OK. 

If you are considering buying something for your significant other, I’d suggest checking out money saving options to stay on budget for your Valentine’s Day. 

And to be honest, I absolutely HATE:

  • Clipping coupons
  • Actively searching for coupons
  • Browsing through paper magazines for coupons 

So, below is my next best couponing option for you: Honey.

Honey is an app that you download on your computer (which works with Chrome). You continue browsing online for cool gifts and every time there is a:

  • Deal
  • Promo code
  • Current discount

… Honey notifies you with a pop-up on your screen so that you can save money. 

Plus – it’s free. 

Now, if you prefer to be a bit more hands-on and purchase things either in store or online, then I’d suggest to check out Ibotta.

With Ibotta, you can save money on your purchases by:

  • Opening an Ibotta account (free)
  • Check out the retailers that partner with Ibotta
  • Shop at the Ibotta partner companies
  • Redeem your purchases through your loyalty account, manual receipt submission or redeem while online shopping offers before making the purchase 

Although I really like Ibotta – and that was the first couponing app that I ever downloaded – I think I’m more of a Honey fan just because it’s so easy (you don’t do anything!). 

Even if you don’t think you’ll need Honey for Valentine’s Day, I’d suggest to consider downloading the app for the future.

Valentine’s Day at Home Ideas

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16. Dinner & Dress-Up at Home


I love this Valentine’s Day date idea. 

It helps us:

  • Stay safe with COVID
  • Stay in line with our budget
  • Dress up for a fancy date night
  • Enjoy some delicious food at home

Since my husband and I have been working from home for about the past year, we haven’t needed to dress up in fancy clothes. 

Why not give yourselves an excuse to dress up for Valentine’s Day date night?

Perhaps you or your partner is a very good cook or you can order takeout for the evening, while lighting some candles and playing some soothing music in the background. 

Remember this: 

If you plan to order take out, make sure you get the best deals by downloading cash back sites such as Slide or Ibotta or by downloading online deal sites such as Honey.

17. Movie Night


Movie night is one of my favorite nights with my husband (yes, we’re married and we still do popcorn-movie date nights!!). 

Honestly, just because it’s Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you need to watch a romantic, sappy love movie. 

Here are some movies we’ve watched in the past that are epic:

  • Troy
  • Date Night
  • Tokyo Drift
  • Ford vs. Ferrari
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith
  • Angels & Demons

There are some movies I refuse to watch (the bloody, gory, horror movies) and there are some movies that my husband refuses to watch (the chick flick, ultimate girly movies). 

So, we compromise and I’m sure you can tell the movies that are on my list (Date Night and Mr. & Mrs. Smith) versus the movies on his list – but it’s such a blast watching these together!

18. Wine & Cheese Night – at Home


Let’s say you and your partner prefer to make your Valentine’s Day classy and sophisticated, yet on a budget. 

Why not have a wine & cheese night, just at home?

My husband and I actually do this sometimes, especially when we decide to sit down and review our budget together (we need some form of alcohol when reviewing our finances). 

Here’s what you can do for Valentine’s Day:

  • Go to your local supermarket and buy a bottle of wine you two enjoy
  • Buy a cheese tray (I love the ones with grapes) 
  • At home, dim the lights, make it cozy
  • Put some pillows on the floor
  • Turn on soothing music
  • Enjoy!

My husband and I have an electric fireplace, so we always turn that on to go along with our red wine and cheese. 

Although we’d like to think we are wine and cheese experts, we’re not – but we still have a blast.

19. Pizza Night


This is SUCH a classic date night on a budget. 

First of all, it’s fun, it probably brings you two back to when you first started dating, and it’s a money savvy way to stay in line with your expenses!

Our go-to pizza is hands-down cheese pizza. 

Apparently, we’re plain people.

But let me tell you this, on our first date (and on our second date), we ordered pizza at the restaurant together. 

So especially for myself and my husband, pizza has a warm meaning.

PS – If you really plan to follow-through with a pizza and movie night, consider buying the large pizza for you both.

20. Go to YouTube and take a Mixology Class Together


Who here doesn’t want to become a future mixologist?

My husband and I are pretty new at this mixology thing, and we really only know how to make a few standard drinks.

That’s why I thought if we take a mixology class together from home – that would be a blast!

We’d get the best of all worlds:

  • Bonding
  • Budget-friendly
  • Fun experience
  • Delicious drinks

You may want to try this too with your significant other – and it’s a way to save money compared to if you were to head out to a bar or restaurant for drinks.

21. Make a Bonfire and Roast Marshmallows


I’ve only been to 1 bonfire in my life (I know, sad, right?), but they are such a blast. 

Bonfires are great for:

  • Spending time with nature
  • Eating toasty marshmallows
  • Bonding with your partner or friends

Especially with COVID restrictions, bonfires are a great way to spend time with your partner (or possibly close family and/or friends) while still remaining socially distanced and remaining outdoors.

Just make sure you:

  • Buy cinnamon crackers
  • Buy thin chocolate bars
  • Buy large marshmallows
  • Follow bonfire safety protocols

Now we just need a fire pit in our backyard and we’ll be all set…

By the way, this Valentine’s Day date idea is something I’ve been hinting at with my husband…

What can I do on Valentine’s Day with no money?


There are many ways you can make this Valentine’s Day the best – even if you’re on a budget. 

Below are some fool-proof techniques that you can use to make this an unforgettable day:

  • Do a pizza night
  • Volunteer together
  • Watch an epic movie
  • Recreate your first date
  • Go to the planetarium together
  • Bake Valentine’s Day cookies together

I know I’ve said it before, but I want to make sure you keep this mind: 

It doesn’t matter how much you spend, what matters is the company you are with.

What do you do on Valentine’s Day when you’re broke?


You don’t have to spend a lot of money on Valentine’s Day to enjoy your partner. 

In fact, if you’re spending Valentine’s Day on a budget, there are plenty of things you can do to:

  • Enjoy yourselves
  • Save money
  • Have fun

Below are some things you can do on Valentine’s Day even if you’re broke:

  • Watch a movie
  • Make a bonfire
  • Take a road trip
  • Bake cookies together
  • Go volunteering together
  • Dress up and eat dinner at home
  • Talk about your future together

Some of these things are on my bucket list with my husband as well. 

Trust me, you can have fun on Valentine’s Day without going broke.

How much does the average person spend on Valentine’s Day?


Based on numbers released by a 
national survey, the average American spent around $161.96 for the 2019 Valentine’s Day celebration, an increase of almost $20 from the previous 2018 year.

Dare to be different. Don’t be like the “average” American. 

Instead of spending on Valentine’s Day, dare to save and invest!

Closing Thoughts


Although Valentine’s Day is just a few more days away, I do hope that my husband has picked up on some of my (rather obvious) hints. 

My hope is that for this year’s Valentine’s Day we do one of the following:

  • Picnic at the beach
  • Trip down memory lane
  • Massage, manis and pedis
  • Baking Valentine’s Day treats

Just remember that you have to stick to your budget

It’s OK to stop yourself from over-spending on your date this Valentine’s Day.

If your partner is upset at you because you didn’t spend more on them, then you know that they are not the right partner for you, so consider this Valentine’s Day budgeting exercise a good test.

Remember that you have many budgeting tools at your fingertips (some even for free), including SimplifiPersonal Capital and/or my free budgeting spreadsheet, below.

budget template background 2

Free Budgeting Templates

Sign up below to receive my free budgeting templates and my latest content updates to help you achieve millionaire status.

Take some time, think about the following:

  • Your budget
  • What you want
  • What your partner may want

And start planning the best Valentine’s Day date on a budget!

Which Valentine’s Day date night idea did you most enjoy?

Related: Poor vs Rich Mindset

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Fiona Smith
Fiona Smith
The Millennial Money Woman was founded by Fiona Smith. She holds her Master of Science Degree in Personal Financial Planning and has co-founded a local non-profit community teaching financial literacy to young professionals.

2 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day on a Budget [21 Affordable Ideas]”

  1. I’m a hopeless romantic and love all these ideas 🙂 Thanks for sharing! Valentines Day doesn’t have to be expensive to be special!

    Cheers! Joel

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