Cheap (and Free) Valentine's Day Ideas

Valentines Day crafting supplies

Romance is in the air — and so are the ads for expensive jewelry and flower arrangements. It may seem like you have to break the bank to show you care, but how much money you spend often isn't as important as the time you spend together.

Follow these rules to keep your Valentine’s Day expenditures in check.

Don't Overdo It

Unless you are planning to pop the question or celebrating a milestone anniversary, there is no need to fork over a month’s salary for a big-ticket gift. Consider how long you have been dating:  In the beginning of a relationship, you don’t want to set a precedent for overextending yourself on lavish purchases. And, if you have been with your sweetie for a long time, you most likely have shared financial goals (such as saving for a vacation or home improvements) that you both want to stay on track to achieve.

Manage Expectations

You know your partner better than anyone else, but that doesn't mean you can read each other’s minds. Drop some hints about your Valentine’s Day plans and test the waters to see how your partner responds. You may be planning to spend a fortune on dinner and a show, when all your significant other really wants is to curl up on the couch and order a pizza.

Start a Tradition

Sometimes the most meaningful gifts don’t fit in a box. Rather than racking up your credit card bill, consider making a gift such as a music mix or a video slideshow featuring photos of the two of you. Write a poem or make a home made dinner. Start a tradition of doing an activity together — such as ice skating, bowling, or just going for a romantic walk. What better way to show your love than by spending time together?

Have a Heart to Heart

It might not sound romantic at first, but Valentine’s Day could be the perfect time to discuss your financial future. Why not use the time when you are gazing into each other’s eyes over a candlelight dinner to discuss what motivates you? What is your vision for the next year, the next five years, or the rest of your lives? Do you want to travel? Buy a house? Pay down your debt? Then use these goals to create a financial road map for achieving your dreams together.

Make a Plan

No matter how you choose to celebrate, be sure to check your budget before making any big purchases or committing to expensive activities. It’s fun to splurge — if you have the money to spare. If you do not have a budget, begin by comparing your income to your debts and expenses. Then start setting your saving goals. You may find that the most romantic thing you can do for your partner is to save for your future together.