Ask the Readers: How Do You Celebrate Valentine's Day on a Budget?

By Ashley Jacobs on 10 February 2015 59 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Beth S, Suz_Glo, and Susan for winning this week's contest!

Retailers will have you believe that you need to buy chocolate, flowers, and jewelry to celebrate Valentine's Day meaningfully, but we all know you don't need to spend a dime to say "I love you." Even if you want to do something special for Valentine's Day, it's entirely possible to keep it affordable.

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day on a budget? Do you have an agreement with your significant other with regards to gifts? If you aren't celebrating Valentine's Day, how do you show your love on an everyday basis?

Tell us how you celebrate Valentine's Day on a budget and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry:

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, February 16th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after February 16th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
     
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
     
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Guest's picture
yoj

I go for a hike if I have the day off, and make sure I go to my favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican place for carnitas tacos and chile rellenos to celebrate my love for Mexican food.

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Julie Wood

We use coupons at the Restaurant and save on our Valentines meal!

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This year is the second one we've had our beautiful little girl. Unfortunately, I no longer have a job, so we're not going out to dinner. We're going to make a "5 star" dinner at home and I am creating a video for him of pictures of us through the years.

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Liisa R

By going out/buying things (if we do that at all) on a different weekend, and usually by celebrating quietly at home.

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Elena

we celebrate on a budget by staying home

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Guest

My boyfriend and I have an agreement that Valentine's Day is pretty frugal. Usually, we cook a nice dinner at home and then watch a movie. Last year, we themed it, so we cooked ratatouille and watched Ratatouille and it was perfect. I'm not sure what we've decided for this year yet.

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Gina

I celebrate the day after when flowers and chocolates are discounted and restaurants are less crowded. We also skip gifts.

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Tina in NJ

Valentine's Day is usually celebrated with a fish dinner (heart healthy) and a fancy desert at home. I used to get my kids little things like a balloon or chocolate, but they have dates now, so it isn't my job anymore.

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Ernest S.

We agree to keep it simple, and plan a day together where we both get to treat one another. This year, we are redeeming points for a stay at a fancy local hotel and getting a couples' spa treatment!

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Ashley

We never formally celebrate Valentine's Day, but I usually try to cook a nice dinner and time a batch of chocolate chip cookies to be piping hot from the oven when my boyfriend comes home from work. All he has to do is bring home a nice beer as my gift and to accompany dinner!

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Kim

We stay home. The kids help us make a nice dinner, and then we play board games and eat a little bit of chocolate.

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MELISSA HANSSON

We usually go out on another night, because Valentine's Day is such a madhouse at restaurants and such.

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Susan P.

I reuse Valentine's Day cards from previous years and we make a special meal at home. We'll watch a romantic comedy movie and eat popcorn.

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Bethany M

We just get each other a card and a memento, and then have a nice dinner at home. Keeps it relatively frugal.

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Laurie

My husband and I usually go out to eat on a different night than Valentine's Day to avoid the crowds and use coupons if we have them. My kids make valentine's for their grandparents and we have a store near our house that has boxes of valentine's for under 50 cents for my kids to give out to friends. We don't do gifts but I usually buy my husband his favorite kind of candy just so he knows I love him and am thinking about him.

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Guest

We swap babysitting each others' kids with another family so each couple can go see a matinee together (one goes Saturday, the other goes Sunday this year)

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Catseye

Cook a simple, delicious meal together or let whoever's the better cook do so. Then eat it in front of the TV, watching your fave shows or a fave movie on DVD or Hulu, etc. while also drinking something special, alcoholic or not, whatever you both enjoy.

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Brooke

My husband and I started going out for breakfast while we were date because we couldn't afford dinner prices and we keep up the tradition to this day! Something I look forward to every Valentine's Day!

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HEW

We just don't do much for Valentine's Day. We get just a little something for our kids and will sometimes share a yummy store-bought dessert together after they go to bed. No big gifts, but some years we have been able to time a date-night for the holiday. This year with a newborn, we'll probably just have dessert and maybe a glass of wine together. :)

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lisa

i enjoy making dinner for my guy and myself and just focusing on each other and DEFINITELY turning off the darn cellphones which are such awful necessary evils....focus on each other, humor, Netflix and of course frisky fun!

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Amanda Sakovitz

I really have never done anything super expensive for Vday. I'm not doing anything this year though.

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Mary Wright

We stay home and enjoy a better meal than we could in a restaurant. Then we watch movies or recorded shows we missed and have way more fun than going out. More fun - less money spent.

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Rebecca B. A. R.

My husband and I usually only do a card and a candy bar for Valentine's day to keep our costs down.

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Dee Dee

We will be dining at home on salmon and opening a bottle of wine we already have.

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Emily

We usually end up spending Valentine's Day apart due to work, but when we are together, instead of going out, we find a good movie on Netflix or Amazon Prime, make some popcorn, and just spend some quality time together without laptops, phones, or other distractions that usually disrupt our weekends and evenings.

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Rebecca C

We cook a nice dinner at home, hand-made cards, and watch a movie.

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Melissa N

We have an indoor picnic night with the kids, including a movie and homemade popcorn! After the kids go to bed my husband and I enjoy a home baked treat or ice cream. Just don't tell the kids! :o)

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Tabathia B

We usually cook dinner at home and go out to the movies

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Beth S

Our church hosts a couples valentine banquet-- we all pitch in & have a nice evening together! :)

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Trula Kiefer

We celebrate our Valentine day with a special card and a small box o chocolate. After many years of marriage it is a wonderful to be reminded of how precious we are to each other. We have each other and that is enough.

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Jennifer Marie

We have dinner at home as a family

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Emily

Steaks cooked at home!

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shelly peterson

Dinner at home and a movie is always good.

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nicole dz

I celebrate Valentine's Day on a budget at home by cooking with my hubby.

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Laura J

I always shop early and get some Valentines day candy on sale with coupons, or look for a stuffed animal on sale or clearance! We make everyone in the family a Valentines box out of a shoebox...and put little homemade valentines in them for a couple weeks! WE have fun with it!

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Barbara Montag

We cook a favorite meal together and make each other a gift - thank you.

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Betty

We stay home on the holiday itself. We may go out for lunch during the week. On the day, we'll have dinner in and watch a movie.

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louly

We don't really celebrate it; we get together with friends and have a dinner party or something.

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Christie

We make homemade heart-shaped pizza and chocolate dipped strawberries, maybe a little chocolate fondue at home with our kids on Valentine's Day. My hubby and I celebrate our Halfaversary on the 19th of February. (Next week is 19 1/2! and we're going out to a favorite restaurant to enjoy a nice dinner just the 2 of us.) That way, we enjoy a special celebration for just us -- and no inflated prices and difficult reservations.

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An G

We don't celebrate too much. It's an Halmark holiday :) We usually cook dinner for the family

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alona

Attending a dinner/dance organized by a local non-profit group and being held at a church

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Emily

We're cooking a fancy dinner in to save money!

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Angie

We celebrate on a day/night other than Valentine's Day, that way we can relax and enjoy ourselves without the big hassle and rush of waiting for reservations, etc. We go to our city Zoo (which is free) and walk around, if it's nice weather. Or our local movie theater has $5 movies on Tuesdays right now.

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Happy Love

My honey brings home a budget bouquet from the grocery store.

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Happy Love

My honey brings home a budget bouquet from the grocery store.

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Diane

We save by celebrating with a nice dinner at home, then going out on a different night. It's too crowded in restaurants here on V-Day~ not worth the trouble.

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KelR1

My spouse and I don't exchange gifts for Valentine's Day or other holidays. We prefer to put that money into our travel fund instead for fun future adventures together. On V-Day we don't go out to dinner either since everywhere is booked/busy/noisy/crowded, so we either go out to dinner the night before or after or, more often, we get a pizza and hang out at home, play with our dogs, play board games, watch movies, etc. Sometimes we splurge and get our favourite gourmet chocolates and/or a bottle of Champagne, but it's typically a relaxing night in.

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Toni B

My husband & I are planning on going to the arcade for Valentine's Day! A couple of rolls of quarters keep us entertained for hours playing pinball. :)

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Suz_Glo

My husband and I keep V-Day pretty low key and always have. I cook one of his favorite meals and we exchange small gifts. I often get flowers, too, which is very nice!

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Liz

We avoid the crowds and cook and have champagne at home.

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Jay

We take turns cooking throughout the normal weeks, usually something quick. For valentine's day, I will probably cook dinner but the kind that takes all day to make. Maybe throw in a cake as well.

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Derrick Rose

We exchange love letters. Have a romantic candle lit dinner at home. Then cuddle up on the couch to watch a romantic movie. We focus our attention on each other. How can Valentines Day get better than that?

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Susan Smith

We celebrate Valentines Day on a budget by staying home

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Guest

I make my own Valentine's cards to send to friends and family - that's really the only celebration that happens!

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Lynda

celebrate it early and be creative! we had a contest one year to see who can make the best celebration on the lowest budget

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BRB

We go back an forth every year as to who has to plan our valentine's day so you don't get fatigued thinking of ideas. But many times it isn't on valentine's day and is usually just a meal or something.

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Matt

We just stay at home and enjoy each other's company.

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Kim D

It's all about the focus on 'quality time' instead of gifts! We succumb to the marketing and always buy cards, but save date night for another time. Also, no flowers! And the discounted ccandy is always nice too :)

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Thomas Murphy

I make my GF dinner at home.