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Affordable and Cute Valentines Day Date Ideas

Posted by MoneyKey on February 13, 2019
Here are some affordable Valentines Day ideas

Roses are red, violets are blue; if you overspend this Valentine’s Day, your budget might be through.

Not a very romantic sentiment, is it?

While it’s true, Hallmark probably won’t be calling us for inspiration when they write their next batch of love notes, it’s a warning worth remembering! With the countdown ticking away to the big day, now’s the perfect time to remind everyone to think with their wallets along with their hearts this February.

And that’s where we come in — not with cash loans but with responsible savings tips. Once you understand how payday loans work, you know a personal loan isn’t an excuse to boost your gift-giving budget. There are better ways to pad out your Valentine’s Day spending without turning to online loans. Responsible money management is a much more impressive gift than any big-ticket item on your list.

So let’s take a quick look at how the country’s lovebirds typically spend their money on the big day before moving onto our seven favorite gift and valentines date ideas.

A Snapshot of Valentine’s Day Spending

Researchers at Finder estimate the average person will spend roughly $221 in gifts and experiences, racking up a collective bill of $30 billion this Valentine’s Day.

Common Valentines date ideas & gifts by the numbers

A diamond necklace. A candle-lit dinner. A bouquet of red roses.

They’ve become the standards of the holiday — so much so that flowers, jewelry, and an evening out make up the National Retail Federation’s top three most popular gifts.

Every year, the NRF shares its Valentine’s Day Spending Survey, outlining how it expects people to spend their money on the holiday. Below are the top seven most popular gift ideas and their costs:






$3.9 billion


An evening out

$3.5 billion



$2.1 billion



$1.8 billion



$1.8 billion


Gift cards

$1.3 billion


Greeting cards

$0.9 billion

Source: NRF’s 2019 annual Valentine’s Day Spending Survey                                                                 

When your loved one deserves to be pampered, it’s tempting to wrap up everything on this list and more. However, as MarketWise found out, building the ultimate Valentine’s Day gift-basket containing all the typical presents can add up.

heart-shaped box of chocolates

They crunched the numbers in their Cost of love survey and found a Valentine’s Day gift including chocolates, jewelry, flowers, fine dining, and a bottle of champagne would cost you nearly $600.

Running a tab of more than $600 is something few people can or want to do

The results of a recent Report on Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households show 4 in 10 people wouldn’t be able to cover the cost of a $400 emergency expense. They may have no other choice but to use an online installment loan if their car breaks down unexpectedly.

Meanwhile, an older study out of the University of Texas at Austin shows most men and some women feel obligated to buy gifts on Valentine’s Day. People load up on gifts not because they think a heart-shaped box of chocolates is a thoughtful gesture but because it’s a gift they think their partner is expecting.

Wear your heart on your sleeve — and your budget, too!

The pressure to shower your better half in cash is on, and the feeling might just be mutual. Your partner may feel duty-bound to pull out all the stops to prove their love is true — even if their bank account can’t handle it.

One way to help avoid mutual overspending on Valentine’s Day is to talk about your expectations. Do either of you care about the price tag on your gifts? What really matters to both of you on this special occasion? What if an unexpected emergency strikes this February — would one or both of you have to take out a payday loan? Do you even care about celebrating?

You won’t know the answers until you discuss it, setting priorities that match both your commitment to each other and to your budgets.

Do the math

Let’s be honest — we know dragging out your calculator and cracking down on your finances is unlikely to get you in the mood this Valentine’s. There’s nothing sexy about the black and white of your account book — especially when you find less than you were hoping for in your wallet.

But much like a relationship, you need to put in the work if you expect to see good things happen. An important step to celebrating your love in a way that doesn’t risk your savings is knowing your limits.

If you haven’t done this in a while, we have several great financial resources to help you create a budget and set aside savings for the occasion. Depending on how long you’ve been with your partner, you may want to turn this into a couple’s chore by tackling your budgets together.

This approach may not be realistic for young love. If you have yet to reach that stage of your relationship, review your budget on your own to determine a practical limit.

But don’t stop there. Some other tools you might find useful this February include:

  • A list: Draw up your list before you leave for the shops and research their prices. If their combined totals go over your budget, you can go back to the drawing board away from the chaos of a mall. Just remember to take your revised list with you whenever you’re ready to shop — a list will help you stick to the plan and avoid costly temptations.


  • A spending tracker: If a list isn’t enough to keep you away from the aisles, a digital spending tracker may be your answer to following a budget. Apps Wally or Mint sync with your bank account and send you notifications when you come close to overspending in your budget.

Think Outside the (Heart-Shaped) Box this Valentine’s Day

Once you have your spending limit for Valentine’s Day, you need to figure out how you can celebrate the occasion without dipping into other parts of your budget. Now that we have a better understanding of the true cost of the holiday, let’s move on to its affordable alternative.

And so, without further ado, here are some low-cost (if not free) gifts and Valentines date ideas:

1. Celebrate on the 15th

When you’re stalking the aisles, searching for that perfect token of your love, you aren’t alone in the stores. According to Finder, you’ll be competing with some 135 million Americans as more than half of the country intends to celebrate the occasion.

bouquet of roses for Valentines Day

The Law of Supply and Demand dictates you can expect a higher price on items when a lot of people want them, too. In other words, popular Valentine’s gifts will see a substantial markup as the lovesick clamour to buy traditional presents.

You’ll feel the effects of this rule most if you buy flowers on the 14th. According to MarketWise’s Cost of Love survey referenced earlier, a bouquet of roses is 30 percent higher on Valentine’s Day than it is at any other time of the year.

If you feel compelled to get your loved one a traditional gift, you may be able to save a considerable chunk of cash simply by waiting a day. Most retailers reduce the prices on any remaining Valentine’s Day candies, plushies, and jewelry starting on the 15th.

2. Skip the cards — make your own!

In the digital age, we may have abandoned snail mail for lightning-quick emails in our everyday correspondence — in 2017, we sent and receive a collective 269 billion emails per day! — but when it comes to Valentine’s Day, we still have a soft spot for handwritten love notes.

Valentine's day card in envelope

It’s one of the most popular card-giving occasions second only to Christmas, and we exchange 144 million cards each year.

While a note is a simple and straightforward way to express your love, a store-bought card is an easy way to waste your money. Although the average greeting card costs $4.50, they may cost as much as $10.

There may be a better way to spend $10 than on a card they might throw out, so skip a factory-printed greeting card and write an original note. Don’t worry if you’re having trouble putting pen to page — these DIY ideas may help tap into your inner-poet.

3. Cook with love

A candle-lit dinner for two in a secluded corner of an intimate restaurant. This dreamy setting with soft jazz playing in the background is the quintessential V-Day dining experience.

It’s also a lie. The chances your date night will be secluded or intimate are very slim.

Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest dining dates of the year, so restaurants are often overcrowded and the waitstaff are overwhelmed. Not to mention that special dinner on the 14th may run up a considerable tab, costing the average person roughly $170.

Romantic dinner for Valentine's Day

You could have your romantic dinner for a fraction of the price if you’re willing to be top chef for the night. Don’t worry if you don’t have a single culinary bone in your body. With resources like Bon Appetit and The Food Network breaking down romantic menus line by line in straightforward recipes, even a complete novice could wow their significant other with a homemade meal.

Just be careful of how you shop for your gourmet dish. Specialty ingredients like fancy cheeses flown in from France are often expensive, and they can throw your budget into turmoil if you aren’t careful.

If you’re worried you might run up a tab with your culinary experiments, stop by the MoneyKey Blog to review our post on saving money at the grocery store. These tips offer cost-slashing guidance in the kitchen and down the aisles, so you have a better chance of cooking a delicious meal without dropping a fortune.

4. Stay home

Leaving the house on the 14th may be a risky situation for your wallet. Blinded by love, you may be willing to overlook the price tag of chocolates, flowers, and other expensive heart-themed gifts.

A couple’s “exile” to one of your homes may help you avoid purchasing any extra last-minute gifts. It’s also a great way to spend quality time together without any interruptions.

If you’re worried this date idea will turn into every other night you spend at home, spice things up by doing something different.

Dust off some board games and get competitive, turn the lights down low and light some scented candles, or plan for a couple’s spa night. There’s no right or wrong way to spend a night in together as long as you’re both having fun.

5. An outdoor activity

Staying in isn’t the only way to protect your budget. Leaving your home for the great outdoors is a great way to spend quality time without spending a lot of money. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure how to use nature as a romantic backdrop this February — we have a few ideas below to help you get started.

A starry sky for a cute Valentines Day

  • Stargaze: If a diamond ring is out of your budget, look up to the skies for the next best thing. The twinkling stars sparkle like gems, providing a free show of the constellations as you cuddle up close under a blanket. Earn extra points by learning where Venus will be on the 14th, so you can point out the planet named after the goddess of love.


  • Skate: Fill a thermos with hot cocoa and lace up your skates for a romantic evening gliding around the rink or, if the weather permits, an outdoor trail. Exchange your blades for roller-skates if there isn’t an indoor rink or frozen pond available. The cost of admission will pale in comparison to costly Valentines day date ideas.


  • Ride around: When the sun’s shining on your valentine, plan a bike ride along a charming path that ends at your favorite ice cream parlor or café. Check in with a local rental place to see if they have any tandem bikes available — a bicycle built for two isn’t cheesy when it’s Valentine’s Day!


  • Take a hike: Head to the woods for a magical Valentine’s Day date amongst the trees. Don’t let a little snow on the trails discourage you if it’s still cold where you live. With a set of rental snowshoes strapped to your feet, you may explore a winter wonderland in the woods.


  • Do a scavenger hunt: If your partner loves a challenge, try creating a romantic scavenger hunt that takes them around town. Fill yours with clues that direct them to old date spots and other important locations.

6. Take a class together

Imagine being pressed up close to your partner as you sway in time to a sultry soundtrack. Or, if that’s not your style, picture the two of you working together to perfect a decadent chocolate mousse in the kitchen.

It doesn’t matter if one of you has two left feet and the other is culinarily challenged. The right teacher may help you overcome these setbacks.

While cooking and dancing classes are popular Valentines date ideas, don’t be afraid to try something totally different — like a paint night, pottery class, or an improv session. There are plenty of learning opportunities out there.

To keep your costs to a minimum, check in with a coupon site like Groupon to see if there’s a significant discount on any available classes. They have an entire Valentine’s Day section to look through as well.

  1. Acts of service booklet

Nothing says, “I love you,” like an IOU. If your loved one hates taking out the garbage or calling to place an order with the local pizza parlor, write these acts of service in a homemade coupon booklet. Your partner can rip it out and redeem the outlined deed whenever they feel like it.

romantic valentine's day coupons

Most lovebirds fill their acts of service booklets with more than just the promise of household chores. Add a mixture of romantic suggestions, date ideas, thoughtful gestures, and other demands of your time that would please your partner.

These coupons may be as practical or suggestive as you want them to be as long as they offer something your significant other would enjoy. Check in with this list to get some cheap valentine date ideas.

Your love may know no bounds, but your budget should!

Do any of these ideas speak to you? These small yet meaningful gestures will have a greater impact than any expensive store-bought item. In fact, most of these cute Valentines date ideas take money out of the equation altogether, relying instead on what’s important: spending quality time with the person you love.

someone writing valentine's day plan in notepad

Don’t worry if nothing from this list impresses you — we won’t be offended! At the very least, what you should take away from this is the need to prepare for the holiday accordingly. When you can set appropriate limits and budget wisely, you’re less likely to wake up the next day to the harsh reality of your overspending.

As for next year’s Valentine’s Day, try setting aside some cash ahead of time. When you prepare for a known expense in advance, you’re more likely to purchase what you need without risking your finances.

This is just one example of good money management that may help you live within your means, so the next time an unexpected expense arrives, you’ll be in a better position to handle it on your own.

If these bills wind up in your mailbox when you’re in a tight spot, get in touch with our Customer Care team to learn what your options might be. As a licensed online lender, Credit Access Bureau, and Credit Service Organization in certain states, we’re an alternative solution to your financial emergency.

To find out what that means, check out this glossary of important financial terms or click the green button at the top right-hand corner of the page to get started. Otherwise, have yourself a happy Valentine’s Day!


Disclaimer: This article provides general information only and does not constitute financial, legal or other professional advice. For full details, see MoneyKey's Terms of Use.

Posted in: Lifestyle

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