Valentines day spending without breaking the bank


Gavin Randall

Valentine's day is no longer a celebration exclusive to those that are "in-love". From having a singles night out with friends to enjoying a self-pampering day, both the lead-up to and the 14th of February has become a period of spending for most.

Whilst dining out, elaborate gifts and over-the-top gestures can be a great way to make your significant other feel special, not everyone has the necessary leeway in their budgets to account for the additional expense. But fear not! There are many ways that one can demonstrate gestures of love without needing to go all-out on spending. At the end of the day, isn't it the thought that counts?

Read on to discover various ways to celebrate this day of love with your significant other without breaking the bank or taking out a payday loan.

dinner table with wine

Dine out (without forking out!)

A seemingly traditional way to treat your partner during Valentine's day is to wine and dine them. Celebratory occasions, e.g. Valentine's day, usually results in an increased demand in restaurant reservations, with popular restaurants usually getting booked up months in advance. A 3-course meal at a romantic restaurant (especially a highly rated one) can create a significant dent in your budget. The addition of over-priced wine or champagne only adds on to the cost of your final bill.

That being said, many restaurants are jumping on the band-wagon of Valentine's deals to attract more customers. From promoting Valentine's 2-for-1 meal deals, specific Valentine's day menus and even 2-for-1 Valentine's cocktails, treating your partner to a meal out does not have to be an expensive affair. An increasing number of establishments are also advertising on voucher sites and providing the option to book cheaper meals in advance.

Besides going out for a meal, a night out at the cinema is another popular Valentine's day date night activity. Instead of paying full price for cinema tickets, why not search for 2-for-1 vouchers or look up free outdoor cinema nights.

Stay indoors

Instead of going out, why not spend quality time with your significant other by staying in. Not only will you avoid the Valentine's day crowds, you are also likely to spend less (a win-win situation!).

Treating your partner to a meal isn't exclusive to dining out. By conjuring up a decent meal for two at home, you can both save money and impress your date. The extra effort taken to prepare a meal from scratch, as opposed to simply making a reservation online, demonstrates to your partner the extent you are willing to go to impress them. To top this off, by staying in you are able to personalise your experience by creating a romantic ambiance whilst enjoying the privacy of your own home. And if your culinary skills are less than impressive why not just order in, or better yet get your partner to help you prepare the meal for additional bonding time.

In addition to having a romantic meal, other indoor activities that can be incorporated whilst enjoying the comfort of your home include watching a movie, playing board or video games and exchanging massages. Be creative and tailor the experience to be one that you will both enjoy.

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DIY gifts

The act of gift giving on Valentine's day has become a necessary gesture in modern society. From giving gifts to a "secret Valentine" in secondary school to impressing your significant other with elaborate gifts like diamonds, the cost of gift giving is ever-increasing. Spending during the lead-up to Valentine's Day in itself provides a positive economic contribution worldwide, with UK consumers spending hundreds of millions in Valentine's gifts annually. Stores worldwide get ready to embrace the increased consumer spending that takes place as a result of this celebratory occasion, with Valentine's spending no longer confined to the western hemisphere.

One way to steer-clear of expensive gift giving whilst still impressing your significant other is to create your own present. Adopt a Do-It-Yourself attitude and spark your inner creative being. Gifts do not have to be expensive or store-bought to be meaningful. Recall heartfelt experiences that you have both enjoyed garnering inspiration when creating these meaningful gifts from scratch.

Tiles spelling out love

Here are a few examples of DIY Valentine's gifts:

  • Personalised cards
  • A montage or scrapbook of old photos
  • Home made chocolates or cakes
  • Hand-picked flowers

Even if you do not consider yourself a creative individual, by carrying out simple online searches you will easily come across various how-to guides that will help you create a gift that will impress your significant other without costing a tonne.

Traditional gifts for less

If you are leaning towards the more traditional Valentine's gifts e.g. chocolates, flowers and wine, why not opt for the more cost-effective option. Instead of buying a box of expensive chocolates, why not make your own at home. Not only can these be healthier than your store-bought chocolate, they can be more delicious too. By incorporating flavours that you know your significant other would like, you can hit their sweet spot whilst personalising their chocolate experience.

Bouquets of flowers, specifically roses, are also a common Valentine's gift. A decent bouquet of roses can not only cost upwards of £30 but is also a gift with a relatively short lifespan. Instead of shop bought bouquets, why not opt for potted plants instead. Not only are they more cost effective, they also have a significantly longer lifespan (with the obvious assumption that they are given the necessary care to flourish).

When it comes to wine, the relationship between taste and price is not always mutually exclusive. By going online and looking at reviews and ratings, you will be able to identify a bottle that satisfies your partner's taste profile without costing a fortune. Some of the most highly-rated wines can be found in your local supermarket for under a tenner. Alternatively, why not plan a wine-tasting session. This allows for you to enjoy the various types of wine on offer whilst having a fun date night out - both a gift and an experience in one!

Free activities

As with gift giving, a pre-requisite of a successful Valentine's day includes the need to plan some form of activity for you and your significant other. Whether it be dining out, going to the cinema, going out for cocktails or attending a theatre performance, many popular date-night activities can prove costly. However, with some careful searching and creative thinking, there are many cost-effective activities that can be romantic and meaningful, making them great Valentine's day dates.

Whilst this may seem like a simple and non-creative idea, going for a romantic walk can be a great way to spend an hour or two. By picking an interesting route in a beautiful park, couples can enjoy the scenery whilst having a deep and meaningful conversation. To up the romance level even further, why not plan for the walk to take place at night under the stars.

Picnics can be very underrated activities. With the flexibility to be enjoyed as both an indoor and outdoor activity, picnics are weather-proof and thus don't require the need for further back-up plans.

Instead of solely focusing on a cost-effective Valentine's date, why not go the extra mile and incorporate the act of giving back. Not only will this allow you to both be charitable, it will also provide an additional dimension of interest and meaning to your date. Your date will be wowed by your compassionate side!

Instead of splurging on flights abroad, why not enjoy what your city has to offer. Spend the day exploring your city and getting to know your community better. Pretend that you are both tourists visiting a new destination. The experience guarantees enjoyment whilst reducing the burden on your wallet.

Why not add the element of mystery to your Valentine's date by planning a treasure hunt for your significant other. Take a stroll down memory lane by planning the hunt around local spots that you have previously visited together. Although sufficient planning is required to execute a successful treasure hunt, the sense of adventure and surprise that you will evoke on your date will be second to none.

Budget break

Treating your partner to a trip abroad is no longer exclusive to the wealthy. The ever-evolving nature of e-commerce is making it more accessible for everyone to travel abroad at lower costs. From searching on price comparison sites to scooping up deals on holiday package websites, taking your partner on a Valentine's getaway does not have to be a luxurious splurge. So why not surprise your Valentine with a quick cost-effective weekend getaway.

If going abroad is too elaborate of a gesture, why not opt for a "staycation". Book a weekend away at a nearby city or town and enjoy the beauty of what your country has to offer.

Celebrate on a different day

The origin of Valentine's day is still widely debated today. Believed to have originated in the early hundreds, the most common opinions are either that it came around as the result of St. Valentine's death, or as a day to commemorate the start of Spring. One commonality that exists between all schools of thought is that the celebration falls on the 14th of February worldwide. This does not mean however that you have to celebrate this day on the 14th of every year. Why not celebrate your love on a different day. Be unique. Not only will this mean that you are able to take advantage of the post Valentine's day discounts, you are also able to celebrate with your loved-one without having to succumb to the pressure of conforming.


Valentine's day can prove to be a burden on your pockets. The most cost-effective way to celebrate this occasion is to be single.

However, if you do have someone to celebrate with, with careful planning and preparation you will be able to treat your loved-one to an enjoyable romantic experience without the need to take out an online loan.