Valentine's Day Savings: 20 Ideas to Spend Less

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

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.

  1. Take a hike or a walk on the beach, or just get outside to enjoy whatever environment in which you live.
  2. Treat your loved one to breakfast in bed.
  3. Make paper flowers full of heartfelt messages your loved one can keep instead of spending money on real flowers that will wither.
  4. Make a CD of your and your loved one's favorite love songs.
  5. Turn loose photos and memorabilia into a scrapbook documenting your relationship or a special time you shared together.
  6. Create a coupon book of tasks or special things you'll do for your loved one throughout year.
  7. Make it a movie night in to avoid the crowds and curl up with popcorn and your favorite classic.
  8. Go on a picnic and make it elegant with candles and a tablecloth.
  9. 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.
  10. Try something new together like a dance, art or music class.
  11. 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.
  12. Make your loved one's favorite homemade meal instead of dining out at a pricey and likely crowded restaurant.
  13. Create a DVD of your favorite memories together.
  14. Search online daily discount and coupon sites for special deals on restaurants or activities in your area.
  15. Give your loved one a massage and a basket of soaps and lotions in his or her favorite scent.
  16. 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.
  17. Find a free activity like an art show, park or public concert in you're area to enjoy.
  18. Write a love letter.  Paper and pen are cheap, the tradition never gets old and you can't beat a truly heartfelt gift.
  19. Commit to shortening the "honey do" list that may have been building since last Valentine's Day.
  20. 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.
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