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Last Minute Budget Friendly Valentine's Day Ideas

People overspend on Valentine’s Day. As anyone with high debt knows, holidays, where gift-giving is worked in, can be extremely stressful. Especially if you have student loans backed up for months while seeking a student loan relief scholarship. The pressure to show or prove your love in monetary value can make anyone want to pull their hair out or maybe even punch a wall. If you are a student balancing school with a job that is just helping pay for textbooks, you’re undoubtedly feeling the pressure of Valentine’s Day. It’s almost as difficult as Christmas because mainstream marketing really rubs in the idea of showing your significant other how much you love them by getting them something expensive.

Don’t let this one holiday bust your budget! This time of year we are bombarded with diamond jewelers commercials and the unrealistic ideal of purchasing matching $40,000 vehicles for you and your spouse, significant other, or soulmate. If your soulmate is vain, this might be the best way to go. However, if you are broke or suffering through severe debt, we’ve got your back. We scoured the web and found some DIY and love-on-a-budget ideas to cover the holiday without filling out those predatory loan applications you received in the mail (not to rain on your pre-qualification parade).

What can I do for Valentine’s Day cheap?

A good place to start is to think high-level; rather than focusing on gifts exclusively, think of things that you both enjoy doing that cost nothing to do but adequately occupy time without either one of you feeling bored or ignored. Here are some cute couples activities that are either very cheap or completely free, courtesy of US News with our own notes added for context:

  • Cook your own “fancy” dinner – This can be done at home, and you can trade the high cost of paying someone else to prepare your meal by buying the produce and other ingredients at the grocery store. Entire dinners can be made for two on a budget of $20-25, and it shows your significant other that you care about them without having to spend your rent money.
  • Attend a sporting event – Yes, you might have to purchase tickets. However, sit in the cheap seats, enjoy the views, and keep each other company with a light-hearted conversation. This is an activity where you are only interrupted by the occasional cheers, and quality time is easy to attain.
  • Get mani-pedis together – Same theme as the sporting event while practicing a little self-care. Nowhere to go while someone works on your hands and feet, so relax and enjoy each other’s company with a much-needed break.
  • Take a class together – Painting with a wine glass by your side is a big hit with the younger generation. You aren’t pressured to be a master with your paint, and get silly with it by painting each other before the instructor finally kicks you out (but keep it civil!).
  • Rent a cute homestay – Air BnB has listings for as cheap as $40 per night, and combine this with hiking, the beach, or another outdoor activity, and have yourself a romantic, private day and night away from home.
  • Do love-song karaoke – Simple drinks and a microphone can be at chill speed and still be a great night.
  • Work out together – In the neighborhood gym or on a guest pass, this can be done for free if you are both into staying in shape.
  • Visit a national park – Most National Parks are free to attend (may come with a parking fee) and are open year-round. February is usually a wintery hike vibe, so pack some jackets and your warmest yoga pants!
  • Tour a museum – Or an art gallery, or a zoo, or anything where you can walk and talk and spend some time in line getting to know each other. Museums and art galleries tend to be the most inexpensive walk-and-talk option.
Affordable date ideas
These affordable date ideas are romantic while not breaking the bank

What are some good ideas for Valentine’s Day?

For adding decorations and little things that aren’t too expensive, think of supplies that make it easy to do DIY projects. Again, you are sacrificing a little of your time for the sake of saving your bank account. Some ideas from HGTV, with images in their blog for each:

  • Candy Necklaces – Cute, easy, and customizable!
  • String Art Heart – A classic example of a labor of love, this involves using string and pins on a board to form the shape of a heart. Add red thread over brown string to write a personal message including your names on the string board.
  • Paper Heart Garlands – Piece of cake (oh, cake works too!) to make by cutting construction paper, looping through a string, and hanging from the ceiling. 
  • Glitter champagne flutes – Hit the Dollar Store, pick up wine or champagne glasses, the glitter in a gold or red color or both, and someone Elmer’s School Glue. Rub the glasses in the glue, then sprinkle the glitter. Easy-peasy.
  • Playful cupcake toppers – Cupcakes from the local grocery deli, add personalized messages to toppers you can find at the Dollar Store.

What should I get my boyfriend or girlfriend for Valentine’s Day under $20?

Skip the expensive jewelry, and opt for little things you might have noticed your significant other mentioning in passing. This could be something as simple as their favorite meal or condiment, or it could be something like a collectible or handy item for around the house. Other more cheeky gifts can be outfits or toys that the other person would also enjoy you wearing or using. 

Alternatively, you could get one big gift for $20 and break it down into pieces your significant other will have to find in a scavenger hunt. It will make the gift seem larger, and it will also show the amount of time and thought you put into the gift.

Once you have Valentine’s Day covered with these ideas, make sure to review your finances after the holiday. Start with a Budget Calculator, and determine if you might need assistance with your debt.

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