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7 Sweet Valentine's Day Date Ideas for the Budget-Conscious

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it’s hard to escape all the love songs, rom-coms, and commercials for everything from flowers to jewelry suddenly bombarding the airwaves. But contemplating dinner and a movie, let alone choosing the right token of love for your partner, can be stressful if you’re short on cash.

If you could use a fun and romantic change of pace this Valentine’s Day, check out these unique and fun date ideas that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Netflix and Chill

Dinner and a movie are two major Valentine’s Day go-to’s, meaning restaurants and movie theaters will be filled to the rafters with couples celebrating their love. But waiting 40 minutes for a table or wading through throngs of movie-goers can distract you from what really matters: your loved one. Instead of spending $15 a ticket and another $15 for a drink and some popcorn to share, you could check out what your at-home alternatives look like instead.

With Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming options from your cable providers, there are thousands of movie titles to choose from and even shows to binge for a romantic night in, and you don’t even have to pay the extortionary cost for a popcorn and soda. Cozy up on the couch with a romantic comedy or a horror flick for a more private and intimate Valentine’s Day.

Spoil Your Appetite with Dessert

The meal is always the priciest half of dinner and a movie, and wait times tend to be at their peak on Valentine’s Day, but there’s no rule against skipping straight to dessert. Perhaps you can go out for some ice cream or stop by a local bakery for a few of pastries instead of sitting through dinner to get to the good stuff. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it, too?

Hit the Bookstore

Is your partner a bookworm? A trip to their favorite bookstore might be just the ticket for an inexpensive and low-key date this Valentine’s Day. You might not think of the bookstore as the most romantic setting, but maybe perusing some books on love and poetry together might turn on more than just your partners’ mind.

You can order a coffee if there’s a café inside or nearby and pick out a book for each other, or two copies of something you can both read together – books on love to draw out the romance, or maybe even something a little steamier if you’re feeling adventurous.

And what could be better than heading home, curling up by the fireplace and poring over a few new additions to your personal library? Reading books on love and romance aloud to each other by candlelight might help you find the words to let your partner know how much they mean to you.

Work Out Together

Everyone could use a little work out after the holidays, and what better way to do so than as a couple? If you already have a membership at a gym or fitness club, why not invite your partner to become your work out buddy? This is a nice low-budget date idea that you won’t need payday loans to afford. Working out with someone is a great way to keep you both motivated and get in some quality face-time without the iPhones this Valentine’s Day.

Your local gym or fitness club may offer classes like Kickboxing and Tae Bo, or even yoga and Pilates for a lower-impact workout, at little to no cost for members. There are even couples’ yoga classes which focus on poses meant for partners like assisted stretches, back-to-back backbends, and face-to-face breathing-exercises you’re sure to want to try again later in a more private setting. Working out together can help you stretch away the stress of the week and strengthen your core, as well as your bond.

Take a Class as a Couple

Why stop at exercise on this couple’s self-improvement journey? If there’s something you’ve been meaning to learn, including your partner can make it all the more fun. You can check out your local learning annex, community college and even Groupon for class offerings in your area. Possible options could include anything from BYOB painting to cooking classes. See what wonderful things you can learn about each other while you’re both learning something new.

If money is tight, you can hold your own class for two instead, and introduce your partner to a special hobby or recipe that’s close to your heart. After all, you don’t have to break the bank to make your Valentine feel like a million bucks with a romantic evening in. Play some nice ambient music, pop open a bottle of wine, and share more than just a meal this Valentine’s Day.

Have a Day Date

A date night is always great, but why wait until the sun sets to get your Valentine’s Day started? Put the “day” back in Valentine’s Day with an early date.

Here are some Day Date ideas that will make your Valentine beam all day long:

  • Take in a Matinee: Movies tend to be cheaper before 4pm.
  • Visit a Local Attraction: Zoos and museums are fun alternatives to dinner and a movie.
  • Grab Lunch: Lunch menus tend to be less expensive than dinner options.
  • Take a Hike: Take in the natural beauty with the one you love by enjoying a walk in the park with a picnic.

Lunch menus and matinee showings are cheaper than their late-night alternatives, and bound to be less crowded earlier on in the day. Start your Valentine’s Day plans with a day date and save your evening for a relaxing night in with your special someone.

Volunteer Together

Show your date how charitable you can be by volunteering for a cause that’s important to both of you. There are tons of charities out there, from assisting the elderly to helping pets or wildlife, and sites like AllForGood can even help connect you with volunteer opportunities that are as rewarding for the beneficiaries as they are for you.

You can sign up to visit a care center near you, participate in a program like Big Brothers/Big Sisters, or volunteer at a soup kitchen and donate some of your time to be a different kind of Valentine to those who need it most. The best part is, it’s totally free and it’s sure to bring out the best in both you and your loved one

When money’s tight and the date is upon you, it can be tough to live up to the commercial expectation, but you and your partner don’t have to follow the herd this February 14th. Use these tips to save money and think outside of the heart-shaped-box-of-chocolates this Valentine’s Day – your date is sure to appreciate the creativity as well.