5 Valentine’s Day ideas for big hearts with humble budgets


I’m trying to get it up for Valentine’s Day. The stores have been promoting chubby cherubs, syrup-filled chocolates, and all things lovey-dovey since our last retail holiday sales event on Black Friday.

To be honest, I don’t have a whole lotta burning love for Cupid’s special day. Restaurants are packed, flowers are at the highest price point of the year, couples feel pressured to be romantic, and heart-shaped chocolate boxes are so common it’s tacky.


How much does love cost? The National Retail Federation says the average wooer will spend $133.91 on candy, cards, gifts, and dinner, with total spending expected to reach $17.3 billion.

So what’s a romantic with a big heart on a humble budget to do? If you’re looking to get laid, then maybe a few of these Valentine’s Day ideas will get the job done. Satisfaction is not guaranteed though. Sorry.

1. Pick another day.

There is no worse day of the year to go out and celebrate amour than on the fourteenth day of February. No. Worse. Day. So stop following the flower trail and lining up in the restaurant lines with the rest of the romantics looking to validate the marketing mayhem. Real lovers know romance can be had any (and every) darn day of the year, including a day before or after Valentine’s.

valentines day

Making a dinner reservation, buying flowers, and booking a hotel room on any day other than February 14th will cost less and be just as lovely.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a costly prick. Reuters got a little thorny and found that the price of roses delivered on Valentine’s Day can be twice as much for the same bud sent the other 364 days of the year.

Restaurants want you to pay for love too. This little bloggy post boasts a few monied tips to help restauranteurs cash in on Cupid. Consumers who love their money should be weary of waiters up-selling pricier meals and pushing add-ons like flowers, special candles to light during the meal, and professional table-side photos to remember your restaurant romance. A “price fixed menu” might also greet you after sitting down, so pick another day to dine out if you don’t want to pay the price.

2. Stay home and smooch.

No one feels kissy kissy after eating a massive meal in a decadent restaurant. Flowers are pretty, but rose buds and long stems don’t do much to get me in the mood. An intimate evening at home (without the kids) and a nice bottle of something tasty sounds like a good time to me. Sometimes you just need to smooch the one you love, and kissing is free.

3. Stick a bow on it.

Ignore the marketing mess that is packaged as love and just stick a bow on it. “It” can mean anything, really. Sheesh. A small bow costs less than a buck, and when paired with a matching friend it’s really a silly way to celebrate a willy of a Hallmark holiday.

red bow

Wrapping yourself in a big car bow costs under $20. I’m not drawing you a diagram, but I’m giggling with glee.

4. Get gifty without getting pricy.

Two Hallmark hump years ago, TIME.com’s Brad Tuttle asked a bunch of personal finance bloggers to share their Best-Ever Valentine’s Day Gifts That Don’t Cost a Fortune.

Here’s my contribution to his article: “Give your loved one a day off. The most precious gift is your time. A day without cooking, cleaning, and entertaining the kids is sexy, especially if it involves a bubble bath and a good book.”

Reminds me of What I really want for Mother’s Day.

Based on everyone’s responses, what matters most is not money spent but rather spending quality time together as a couple. What does your guy or gal love? Do that. And read the article.

5. F-ck it, celebrate being human.

Being single when everyone else on planet Earth (not Venus or Mars) appears to be hooking up stinks. The kissy updates on Facebook, the titillating tweets on Twitter, and the sweetie selfie shots on Instagram can be enough to give all the single ladies and gentlemen the dry heaves.

I love affection, don’t get me wrong. There’s just a lot more to love than just being a couple. We human earthling things have the capacity to show the love in so many ways. Our friendships, our families, and even our interactions with strangers benefit from being kind and generous to others. Cupid’s arrow can point in a lot of directions — the magic is seeing where something strikes.

How do you spend Valentine’s Day?



  1. Sam February 11, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Great article and thank you for all you do😃

  2. Lisette February 11, 2014 at 9:04 am

    For me loving, appreciating and celebrating myself with a nice glass of bubbly (the unexpensive one) is my favorite Valentine day.

  3. Ajka February 11, 2014 at 9:51 am

    I think you are wrong when you say that roses delivered on Valentine’s day will cost twice as much as any other day of the year. The Valentine’s mark up on roses (maybe on flowers in general but of that I am not 100% sure) starts AT LEAST a week before Valentine’s.

  4. Tori February 11, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Thanks for including #5! I’m happily single and I will be spending V-Day with my secret crush, Kevin Spacey. Specifically, the second season of House of Cards comes out Friday and I’m getting some inexpensive Prosecco, some nice cheese and crackers, and I’m hunkering down with Netflix. One or more of my girlfriends may come over to join me.

  5. Dan @ Our Big Fat Wallet February 11, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    For us the actual day isnt that big of a deal since it is usually in the middle of a work week. For most years I (attempt to) cook a nice dinner. We find it to be easier, faster and much cheaper than going out to a fancy restaurant

  6. Linda February 11, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    I am not part of a couple and very happy being single. I am going to a wonderful play at local university on Friday, to a crafting event (free) on Saturday, and on Sunday to a female only brunch — woman both part of a couple, married, and single will be attending. Absolutely the best Valentine’s weekend I’ve had in many, many years.

  7. Marie @ 4HWD February 11, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    I already made my very own V-cards for my loved ones. February 16 is my daughter’s birthday usually we will celebrate our Valentines day during her birthday to save us a bit.

  8. Darla February 11, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Hi Kerry. My husband and I re-use cards from previous Valentines and cross out the last year and put in the new one. It always gets a laugh. We stay home and open a bottle of wine. Being together, not spending a fortune, is what matters most!

  9. Cam February 12, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    And this is why you rock! My wife and I ignore this date. She dislikes it, a lot!

    For me, being told by the Corporate world what day I am supposed to buy my wife something and being gouged doing it, just doesn’t add up. And where is the romance?!

    I would rather make some random day special by doing something romantic and totally spontaneous. A note hidden in her lunch bag, a small chocolate bar in her purse, or make her a bath after a long day. Or flowers after a really bad week at work. Or a really romantic dinner for two at home with a glass of wine. Life is good! 🙂

  10. andrew March 2, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    I’m not a cheap person, but always choose a day to go out for a nice dinner. The crowds, lines and randomly placed prix-fixe dinner options just don’t do it for me.

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