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How to Plan a Budget-Friendly Valentine’s Day (Without sacrificing romance or breaking the bank)

in Managing Money & Credit
How to Plan a Budget-Friendly Valentine's Day

Love is in the air—and so is spending! In 2022, partners and spouses planned to spend an average of $175.41 on their better half, which is just over $350 per couple.

For many people, spending $350 on this holiday simply isn’t feasible (or desirable!). It’s understandable that you may want to sweep your sweetie off their feet, but you shouldn’t have to go into debt to make that happen.

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a small fortune to enjoy a romantic Valentine’s Day. And, saving money on Valentine’s Day can actually result in a more meaningful celebration. Below, we walk you through how to create a special Valentine’s Day budget without breaking the bank.

Openly Communicate About Expectations

Before you set out to find that perfect gift or begin to plan the ideal date, talk openly with your partner about what Valentine’s Day means to you. This will ensure that what you plan actually makes the other person feel special.

For instance, if you like to celebrate the holiday but don’t really attach sentimental value to gifts, communicate that! If, on the other hand, being showered with thoughtful presents on Valentine’s Day makes you feel appreciated, share that with your partner.

Once you both set the expectation ahead of time, you can plan a budget-friendly Valentine’s Day that’s both fun and meaningful.

Establish Your Love Languages

If you’re not familiar with the concept of love languages, here’s a quick summary. In The 5 Love Languages, marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman describes five different ways people express and receive love:

  • Words of affirmation
  • Quality timePhysical touch
  • Acts of service
  • Gifts

For example, one person may feel loved when their partner picks out a meaningful gift for them, while another might feel loved when their partner cleans up the kitchen after a hard day. Not understanding each other’s love languages can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

To avoid a potential Valentine disaster, openly discuss with your partner how each of you experiences love. Once you know each other’s love languages, you can plan a budget-friendly Valentine’s Day that takes into account the way each of you likes to feel cared for and appreciated.

Manage Valentine’s Day Gift Expectations

Managing gift expectations is an important part of planning a budget-friendly Valentine’s Day. This will help prevent disappointment if you were expecting diamonds but ended up with a box of chocolates (or vice versa and your gift to your partner then doesn’t quite match up).

Set a spending limit on each other and stick to it. While you may think you’re doing something special, spending more than the limit you set as a couple is a good way to make the other person feel guilty or inadequate if they did stick to the limit.

Managing gift expectations—and sticking to them—is one of the best ways to avoid hurt feelings and save money on Valentine’s Day.

Create a Valentine’s Day Budget

Creating a Valentine’s Day budget together is a good way to save money and ensure you truly enjoy the things you do spend money on. By creating a budget, you should come to an agreement on the amounts you can both comfortably spend. You’ll also get an idea of the activities and gifts you can afford to enjoy.

If you don’t know how much you can comfortably spend and aren’t already budgeting on a regular basis, you can create a budget for the month of February to get an idea. Here’s how to create a quick one-month budget:

  1. Add up all your known expenses for February, such as rent, utilities, debt payments, and other recurring costs.
  2. Then, add up all your anticipated expenses, such as groceries, dining out, and fuel costs. If you’re not sure what you usually spend in these areas, look back at your spending from the past few months to get an idea.
  3. Next, add any savings contributions you make on a regular basis. (Ideally, your Valentine’s Day plans won’t impact your savings progress.)
  4. Subtract your expenses and savings from your monthly income.
  5. The amount of money you have left over should give you an idea of how much you can comfortably spend on Valentine’s Day.

If you don’t have enough money left over for even a moderate Valentine’s Day gift or date, that’s okay! We’ve compiled a list of meaningful Valentine’s Day date ideas below that are completely free.

And if you really want to get ahead, create a savings goal for next year’s Valentine’s Day! For example, if you’d like to be able to spend $200 on a fancy dinner out next year, start saving that $200 today. Simply divide $200 by 12—which is about $16.67—and put that amount into your savings account each month until next Valentine’s Day!

Plan a Free or Low-Cost Date Activity

Clever marketing tactics might try to convince you that you need to spend a small fortune to prove your love and affection. But in reality, this just isn’t true.

In fact, some couples find Valentine’s Day dining to be more stressful than satisfying. The restaurants are crowded, the food is overpriced, and there’s a lot of pressure to have a great time.

The following fun ideas below prioritize meaningful experiences while allowing you to save money on Valentine’s Day. Enjoy choosing one or more of these ideas to reignite the spark in your relationship and relish in a romantic, budget-friendly evening.

Cook a Romantic Dinner at Home

Cooking dinner at home is one of the easiest ways to save money on Valentine’s Day—and it can also be one of the most fun! Resist the temptation to simply cook one of your routine meals, and instead spice it up. Here are some ways you can make a home-cooked dinner more special:

  1. Plan a three-course meal. Serve an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert.
  2. Try a recipe you’ve never made before. Order a meal delivery kit if you’re having trouble getting creative.
  3. Spread a blanket in front of the fireplace to enjoy a picnic-like experience.
  4. Light candles to create a romantic atmosphere.

Dining in on Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be boring! With a little imagination, you can make your home-cooked Valentine’s Day dinner even more special and intimate than a fancy restaurant.

Plan a DIY Wine-Tasting Night

While you’re at it, why not plan a DIY wine tasting before, during, or after dinner? Simply visit your favorite wine store and buy a few bottles of wine you haven’t tried before. Set up a cozy space and put together some wine-friendly snacks like cheese and crackers or a charcuterie board. You can even create a DIY tasting scorecard where you can describe the flavors of the different wines and rank your favorites.

Take a Walk Down Memory Lane

Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to reflect on your relationship and enjoy reminiscing about the time you’ve spent together. If you’ve been together for a while, plan to talk about your favorite memories from each year you’ve spent together. Then, you can talk about what memories you’d like to make in the future!

Alternatively, you can literally take a walk down memory lane by visiting one of the first places you frequented together as a new couple. If you’re not planning to eat dinner out this year, maybe you can work dessert and drinks (or just drinks!) into your Valentine’s Budget at one of your early date spots. 4.

Rent a Movie

With subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, we have countless movies and TV shows at our fingertips. Make your in-home movie night more date-like by actually renting a movie instead of simply streaming one.

Renting a movie from a streaming service can make the experience more special, as you only have access to it for a short period of time. As a bonus, incorporate treats by popping some popcorn and bringing your favorite movie candy to munch on.

Raid the Board Game Closet

Playing games is a great way to spend quality time together. Unlike vegging in front of the TV, playing board games or cards provides you with more opportunities to talk and enjoy each other’s company. If you don’t have board games, stop by the second-hand store and pick out a fun game for two, or ask to borrow one from a friend or family member.

Write Your Own Love Letters (and Read Them Out Loud)

If you’re looking for an extra romantic Valentine’s Day, write your own love letters to each other and read them out loud. Once you’re done, you’ll each have a meaningful memento to treasure forever. To make it even more romantic (and challenging) turn the letters into poems!

Visit a Museum or Gallery

Museums and galleries are a great way to get out and enjoy your local culture together for a relatively low cost. While some museums may charge an entrance fee, many do not. Check out your local listings to find out what’s going on in your town on Valentine’s Day.

Create a Couple’s Time Capsule

Get crafty by creating a couple’s time capsule together. You can include love notes, ticket stubs, photographs, cards, mementos, and more—it’s your time capsule! Once you’re finished, put the time capsule in a safe place where you won’t be tempted to open it. Set a date in the future for when you’ll open the time capsule together. Imagine where you’ll be as a couple on the date you plan to open it.

Don’t Forget to Enjoy Each Other

Whatever you do on Valentine’s Day, remember that the main goal is simply to enjoy each other’s company. As discussed above, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on an experience or a gift to do that. Instead, simply choose an activity or two that you’ll both delight in and savor the quality time together.

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At Lafayette Federal Credit Union, we work hard to help our members manage their finances and make the most of their money. Let us work with you on your financial roadmap! For more great money management tips, check out our blog.

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