According to a survey from the National Retail Federation, conducted by Prosper Insight Analtyics, "Americans will spend on average, more than $140 on Valentine's Day and $199.33 if they shop online. Last year, consumers spend an average of $133.91. The total expected spending is $18.9 billion, which is the highest amount recorded on the survey." That's a lot of candy, cards, dinner, flowers, and jewelry!
You don't have to go into debt on Valentine's Day; you and your sweetie, or friends, can have a good time on a budget. Here are 11 swoon-worthy ways to celebrate Valentine's Day without going broke.
11 Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day Without Going Broke
1. Eat at home.
Instead of making reservations at a restaurant, cook at home. You can make a gourmet meal for the fraction of what it would cost. Not into gourmet? No problem. Have a good ol' fashioned picnic in front of the fireplace, if you have one. If you don't have a fireplace, don't worry. You can still enjoy the warmth of a picnic for two.
Giving back is a great way to spend Valentine's Day. You can volunteer at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or at some other type of non-profit. Not only does giving back feel good, but you get to see how much you have to be grateful for. You'll also learn that there's more to Valentine's Day than giving expensive flowers and jewelry. It's a heart-centered holiday where a random act of kindness is the best gift to give.
3. Take a road trip.
Get in the car and take a road trip to somewhere you've never visited before in your city or area. Check out historic sites and dine at a country café. Stroll along a lazy river or have lunch in a park. Not only is a road trip a good way to see the sites in your hometown, but it gives you the opportunity to discuss your financial future with your partner.
4. Spend the day at the museum.
Most museums are free on the weekends. Spend the day at the art, history, science or whatever museum tickles your fancy. If you go to an art museum, for example, have fun guessing the value of the paintings. It's a good way to get in to the mood to talk about your finances.
5. Celebrate the day before or after.
You don't have to celebrate Valentine's Day on February 14; you could celebrate before or after. In fact, it may be cheaper and less crowded to do so. Plus, you won't have to fight the crowds or get frustrated trying to find a parking spot.
6. Create a scavenger hunt in and outside of your home.
Celebrate Valentine's Day with a fun scavenger hunt. You can even tie your finances into it. How? Get a jar, fill it with pennies and hide it somewhere. Your partner (or friends) will have fun finding the jar of pennies. Give bonus points for guessing how many pennies are in the jar.
7. Give each other massages.
Instead of booking an expensive couples massage, give each other massages. It's an intimate way to connect with one another without breaking the bank on Valentine's Day. Plus, it gives you a chance to talk about your finances. Nothing says romance than saying "I Do" to a strong financial future together.
8. Get physical.
Go for a walk, hike, or bike ride. Remember, exercise release endorphins, so you'll get to enjoy each other's company in the great outdoors. Make sure you stop and take in the scenery around you, especially sunrises and sunsets. These are some things that money can't buy.
9. Play board games.
Don't want to cook? No problem. Order take-out from your favorite diner or restaurant and enjoy a night of board games. Or make up your own games. Maybe you can create a financial game to see how much you know about saving and investing your money.
10. Have a taste.
Tasting cheese, chocolate, coffee or wine is a great way to spend Valentine's Day without going broke. You'll most likely receive appetizers and/or other foods along with you tasting. Make a night out of it by getting to know other couples. Who knows? You may make some new friends.
11. Talk about your financial future.
If you've been dating for a while, you may want to take time to discuss your financial future. Are your student loans paid off? Is your credit card debt shrinking? If you're renting, are you considering buying a house together? Valentine's Day is a great way to get intimate about your finances.
Remember that there's more to Valentine's Day than whisking the one you love away for a romantic getaway that may stress out your savings. Rather than spend your money, save it and have a cozy evening at home. Think about all the money you'll save. And... You can use your savings to buy something that will pay off in the long run, like investments. Not that's a great return on Valentine's Day!