February 01, 2021 · Budget, Credit, Holiday, Savings

Celebrating Valentine's Day on a Budget

Sunday, February 14, is Valentine's Day. In the United States, Valentine’s Day in February is a popular culture holiday that has become associated with displays of affection for friends, family members, and romantic partners. It is a time to celebrate our most important personal relationships, and highlight them with traditional activities such as shared meals, gifts of flowers or candy, other presents or actions demonstrating our feelings.

But personal relationships in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic means that how we relate to the most important people in our lives may be just a little different than in previous years, including managing face coverings and social distancing. The pandemic has also had some negative economic effects for the U.S., and millions of Americans may be managing their personal budget more carefully than ever before.

Even with a limited budget, there are still opportunities to demonstrate our positive emotions towards those we care about—words, gestures, and activities don’t have to cost much money. While keeping in mind the need to be health conscious, we have a few ideas for making Valentine's Day this year still special, but not expensive, for a very important person or persons.

Keep it super simple—watch a movie or several episodes of a favorite program, or play a card, board, or videogame at home

You can watch a favorite or new movie together, or binge a few episodes of a show online while munching on preferred snacks. Play a game with your partner, either competitively or cooperatively, but have fun and don't get too serious about it.

Have a romantic dinner at home and dress up for it

Plan and cook together a special meal at home or bring in a take-out meal from a favorite restaurant—and get dressed up, and you can be creative about what to wear. The two of you can also decide if you want to dress up and the style of clothing to wear—it could be formal, casual, beach, business, athletic, or anything else. The two of you could create custom music playlists and trade off playing and listening to each song mix together. One option is to turn off electronics other than music, so no phone calls, texting, emails, radio, computer, or television interrupt the dinner.

Plan a scavenger hunt for each other with hidden notes and presents

For a Valentine's Day with—potentially—lots of surprises, you can create an indoor and outdoor scavenger hunt where the participants all create and hide notes, photographs, and small prizes such as mementos representing shared experiences. The hunt could be on a timer to keep it moving steadily along. An additional, especially creative twist (or fold) is to research origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, and fold the notes into creative shapes, such as animals or insects, before hiding them for the scavenger hunt. When time is up and the hunt ends, you meet and exchange presents that have been bought after mutually deciding on a modest budget.

Give the gift of service by taking on tasks for your partner

Whether it’s walking the dog, cleaning the furnace, handling dirty dishes, taking the car in for service, folding laundry, paying bills, cleaning the bathroom, or some other activity, your valentine probably has a few tasks that they prefer not to do. So, this year volunteer to take over some of their more disliked chores for them. To make your task volunteering a little more special, you can also create coupons to give your significant other, with each coupon representing a different chore you’ll take on.

Write, exchange and read out loud hand-written letters

Sharing one's thoughts and emotions about someone you care about is deeply personal and touching, especially if you’ve taken the time to write them down. Writing down (and then saying) what you think and feel doesn't cost much, but it can mean a lot to someone.

Run, take a hike, walk or bike together

You can share time with someone, relax, and get some exercise by running, walking in the neighborhood, hiking in the outdoors, or biking. Being active together is inexpensive and a healthy way to enjoy your relationship.

Grocery shop, cook, and enjoy a special breakfast in bed on the weekend

Purchase or make your favorite foods and drinks for breakfast, then have a long, indulgent meal in bed—but be careful about crumbs.

Dance together

Whether you like to dance to jazz, rock, rap, electronic dance music, oldies, techno, country, soul, rhythm and blue, blues, international, classical or any of the other types of tuneful options, Valentine's Day is another reason to be close with someone special and enjoy music and dancing.

Share part of the holiday with someone remotely who doesn't have a valentine

Not everyone has a romantic partner, and this may be due to many different reasons. If you know of someone who may need some personal attention and support on Valentine's Day, try dedicating some time that day to them. Maybe it’s an elderly relative or friend who might be alone on February 14th, and make an effort to reach out and brighten their day. If these tools are available, use a free videoconferencing service such as Zoom® or Microsoft Teams® to have a video call with them, or use one of the shared viewing tools from online streaming services that allow people who are physically apart to remotely watch a movie together. Remember that alone doesn’t have to mean lonely.

And so many other ways to enjoy Valentine's Day with someone

The options for celebrating a cost-conscious Valentine’s Day are just too numerous to count—but really counts is sharing the day with a person or persons with whom you have a strong, deep, and caring connection. However, you choose to celebrate the day, have fun and enjoy yourself.