While the origins of Valentine’s Day show it as a day to celebrate love and romance, today, centuries later, it’s a day as much about spending money on your loved ones as it is about showing them your love.
Last year, couples spent $1.7 billion on flowers, $3.4 billion on dining out and $3.5 billion on jewelry, according to a survey released by CouponCabin.com.
Men spent about $160 on their valentine, while women spent nearly $75 on theirs, the survey found.
And this year, total spending will hit $17.6 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.
Despite the statistics, showing your love doesn’t mean you have to blow your budget.
Try these 20 low-cost ideas for turning your Feb. 14 back into a celebration full of love, not an empty bank account.
- Take a hike or a walk on the beach, or just get outside to enjoy whatever environment in which you live.
- Treat your loved one to breakfast in bed.
- Make paper flowers full of heartfelt messages your loved one can keep instead of spending money on real flowers that will wither.
- Make a CD of your and your loved one’s favorite love songs.
- Turn loose photos and memorabilia into a scrapbook documenting your relationship or a special time you shared together.
- Create a coupon book of tasks or special things you’ll do for your loved one throughout year.
- Make it a movie night in to avoid the crowds and curl up with popcorn and your favorite classic.
- Go on a picnic and make it elegant with candles and a tablecloth.
- Make something homemade for your loved one, such as jewelry or a painting or a collage. Even if you don’t think of yourself as crafty, just a homemade card made with your best efforts will be appreciated.
- Try something new together like a dance, art or music class.
- Check with your neighbors and friends about going in on a group babysitter so the kids can have a fun night together while the adults get a night off.
- Make your loved one’s favorite homemade meal instead of dining out at a pricey and likely crowded restaurant.
- Create a DVD of your favorite memories together.
- Search online daily discount and coupon sites for special deals on restaurants or activities in your area.
- Give your loved one a massage and a basket of soaps and lotions in his or her favorite scent.
- Celebrate a day, week or even a month later so that you can avoid holiday price hikes and take advantage of restaurant, travel or shopping deals down the road.
- Find a free activity like an art show, park or public concert in you’re area to enjoy.
- Write a love letter. Paper and pen are cheap, the tradition never gets old and you can’t beat a truly heartfelt gift.
- Commit to shortening the “honey do” list that may have been building since last Valentine’s Day.
- Turn an old shoebox or other container into a keepsake box and start the collection off for your loved one by including a few special mementos.