Frugal Living 

15 Cheap Valentine’s Day Dates

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Valentine's Day Cheap DatesValentine’s Day is coming up in a few days and I’m sure you have everything planned… right? Right?

With the economy still on the weaker side, the responsible thing to do is for you to go out, spend a lot of money, and stimulate the economy! I’m only kidding. 🙂

Valentine’s Day isn’t about spending money on your loved one, it’s about spending time with your loved one. I’ve listed fifteen ideas that my wife and I have done over the years (not just on Valentine’s Day, but for our date night’s and other such occasions) and hope you can get some good ideas too!

Long time readers will recognize some of these ideas from a few years back. It’s still as applicable today as it was when it was originally published and I’ve added and replaced a few ideas!

15 Cheap Dates

  1. Cook: Cooking is a fun and frugal activity you can do anytime, not just Valentine’s Day. My wife and I always cook on our special days because we enjoy each other’s company, the challenge of making something from scratch, and because we are actively engaged in something with each other. Going to a restaurant is nice, but it’s pricier for less quantity and quality, and you just sit there. When you cook at home, you can always throw ingredients at your partner! Not a good cook? Try making pizza, it’s easy, it’s pretty fast, and hard to mess up. 🙂
  2. Walk in the park: There’s nothing more romantic than taking a long walk and spending time with your loved one. Walks in the park, or by the lake, or anywhere scenic are all great ideas.
  3. Go for a hike: If you have any good trails near you, take the “walk in the park” up a notch and go for a good hike. Getting the heart pumping and the blood flowing while enjoying the great outdoors with your partner is a fantastic way to spend a few hours without spending lots of money.
  4. Rent/Stream a new movie from Red Box/Netflix: Rent DVD movies for $1 plus tax a night from one of the 12,000 RedBox kiosks located in grocery stores and MacDonald’s across the country. Find a kiosk near you and look online for red box codes for free nights. Also, Netflix (and other streaming services) offer plenty of romantic films/shows to fill up your night.
  5. Borrow older movies from friends or the library: Pick up (or stream!) a romantic movie like Keeping the Faith (my wife’s favorite – still!) or any number of Hugh Grant movies from the library or one of your friends.
  6. Make your own treasure hunt: This one requires quite a bit of pre-planning but you can send your partner (you along with them) on a treasure hunt. You can make the setting your home or your town or even the route you’d take walking in the park. The “treasure” can be a gift or simply a nice card sharing your feelings. Remember, much like a walk or cooking, it’s about spending time with each other.

    And for the true nerds out there, try Geo Caching — it’s a fun, free (minus buying an app, maybe) diversion that can lead to all types of interesting adventures.

  7. Visit museums: We are fortunate to live near Washington D.C. where all the Smithsonian Museums, and many other museums, are absolutely free. Museums are a great way to get some culture in your life and spend time with your partner on the cheap.
  8. Play board games: If you don’t already have board games, ask your friends if you can borrow some of theirs or visit a thrift shop or second hand store to see if they have any games lying around.
  9. Volunteer together: Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or some other charitable organization that needs your help. It’s a great way to give back to the community while spending time with your loved one.
  10. Play a sport: Hit the basketball court to play a game of H.O.R.S.E. or to the field to play some catch, do something that gets you both energized and active. Bring along a picnic and make a lunch out of it!
  11. Go on a wine tour: If you live near any wineries, consider going on a wine tour. Wineries are often bunched together and so you can visit several of them, sample some wines, and make a great day out of it. It can get pricey if you decide you like the wine and want to buy more! (you can stick brewery instead of wine if you and your partner prefer)
  12. See a matinée or visit a smaller movie theater: Movies can get pricey but if you catch a matinée, the price can go down dramatically. Alternatively, you can always seek out a smaller/boutique movie theater showing second run films or art house movies on the cheap as well.
  13. Go to a coffeehouse: Visit your local coffeehouse and enjoy a warm cup of coffee, the company of your partner, and music if they got it.
  14. Massages: When you go to a spa, these are pricey. When you do it yourself, it hardly cost anything and feels priceless. 🙂
  15. Learn something (hobby, skill, etc.): Spend the day learning something new and fun that neither of you have ever tried before. Whether it’s rolling this idea into the cooking suggestion or taking a community class, spending time together learning something brand new is fun and exciting.

Do you have a great date night activity that I missed?

(Photo: sis)

{ 23 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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23 Responses to “15 Cheap Valentine’s Day Dates”

  1. Patrick says:

    Great tips Jim. Valentines day doesn’t always have to be about money. Your partner usually just wants to spend time with you and things like a message and movie are great ways to do that. Just because you throw tons of money at gifts doesn’t mean you are going to have an enjoyable Valentines day.

  2. Great post, really impressive, touching, cheap way out and maybe even to whereever you want to end up. Cleary shows how money does always have to be used for great romantic Valentines day.

  3. Great list. My wife and I are doing a combination of those things on V-Day. We’re going to a National Park for a hike, then hitting a nearby coffee shop for a bit. It might sound boring to some people, but I personally cannot wait.

  4. Start-Up says:

    I definitely subscribe to the make your own dinner valentine’s day date. We decided that since my bday is the week of vday, our anniversary is the week after and her bday is the month after that we don’t need to spend money on vday. We just need to spend time with each other. Cooking dinner is a great way to do that.

    As for making pizza, I recommend buying a pre-made pizza crust, add bbq sauce, add cooked chicken, add mozzarella cheese and throw it in the oven. Quick, easy, cheap and DELICIOUS.

  5. Charity says:

    Great ideas. I love them thanks. My husband and I generally stay at home for Anniversary and Valentine. The main reason is that we spend special time togther at little or no cost to us. I generally spend the afternoon doing a super clean-up of the house, complete with candles and/or other frangrance options. Make some significant changes such as rearranging furniture and niceer tablecloths, and set table with best china, silverware and fabric napkins, etc. Put the best linen in bathroom and bedroom, etc,. The I make a special dinner. If I have not much time to make a nice dinner, I simply call out for chinese. Then we watch our wedding video, and look at wedding pictures and close our evening with our special wedding CD. Total cost = not more than $20, only if we go chinese.

  6. MoneyNing says:

    Board games are great because of all the quality time you can spend with each other. There’s much more interaction than something like a movie.

    Great list!

  7. MoneyNing says:

    Oh almost forgot….

    The mall is a great valentine’s day activity! Just after all the stores closes (but before the mall itself close), there will be no one in the mall. If there’s only the two of you in a huge place with great lights, it could feel incredibly romantic to sit down somewhere with good decor and just spend some alone time.

  8. I like your list. I wish my wife and I volunteered more often together. I think volunteering with a family and kids is also a great bonding experience.
    Great post!

  9. Cheryl says:

    Great ideas! I know so many people that have the mindset that if they spend a lot of money on each other they are proving that they have a great relationship. This couldn’t be further from the truth – as I’ve seen so many not last!! More people need to go the frugal way!

  10. thomas says:

    you use the chrome browser…

  11. Tom says:

    I’m flying to NY for Valentine’s day … guess that’s not exactly the cheap way to go!

  12. Gonzzo 60 says:

    Heres a good idea that we’ve done, borrow a friends cabin out of season. It can be very relaxing and quiet to

  13. Mary Cottingham says:

    Your local FreeCycle group is a great place to get “new to you” movies and games… and to pass your old ones on to someone new. And a great pair of candlesticks to set the mood. provides a search engine to help you find your local group.

  14. tom says:

    It’s sad to see people spend fortunes just because someone else told them they need to.

    Valentines day is just for business, you should appreciate your partner or whoever everyday not just on Valentines Day.

    People are blind to see this.

  15. Carla says:

    I love your VDay ideas. Since I cook every. single. day. that’s not very exciting (ha!) though I love to do it. Everything else sounds great. We may stay overnight some place, but it will still be very cost effective for us.

    We are in San Francisco and have memberships to a few museums so we may hit one of two of them also.

  16. Donna says:

    you can make a homemade valentine like in elementary school.

  17. Robb says:

    Great list! I think cooking at home is one of the most romantic and fun things you can do with someone. And you can save 50-75% compared to going to a nice restaurant (without fighting the Valentine’s Day crowds).

  18. Autumn says:

    love your ideas!

  19. Kira says:

    My husband and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary this Valentine’s Day. Since money is tight, like alot of folks, we will be exchanging love notes at a picnic at the local lake. If the weather’s good, we’ll go to the beach which is only another 25 minutes away. We usually take our vacation around this time of year. This year, vacation is coming a little late, but all is ok. Our kids LOVE the fact that we spend our vacation with them. We just make sure to take time out at a later date for each other. Getting quality kids with teenagers is no easy task and if they’re willing to spend time with the family…woo hoo!

  20. Anonymous says:

    My bf and go to are camp for any special occassion we live in a snowy area so its hard to take a walk or things that are to outdoors This year iam thinking of playing a game with each other to see how well we really do know each other Iam going to make a puzzle picture of myself and have him put it together ,among doing other things the time we share is the best of all to us in a place where we built are relationship

  21. Gadgetman says:

    A great list, Jim, nice one! I’ve tried a lot of those and the most enjoyable was wine tasting. It can also, unfortunately, be the most pricey! 🙂

  22. Kati says:

    This is a great list! For anyone with a camera, you two could go out and take photos of strange sights around town; anything from a light pole to a person in the street. Have a great time using silly angles and take lots of pictures of each other! It’s a fun way to let the artsy side out before returning home to shelter from the colder weather (Here in Alaska, at least). Even after the day is done, you can print out the pictures and make a scrapbook story out of select pictures for another fun way to spend time together!

  23. Shirley says:

    I know there will be flowers; most likely a plant that can be added to our backyard flower garden and enjoyed for years.
    I will put a personal message on his desktop as wallpaper for the day; usually something that will make him laugh and remember an experience we had together.
    The day will be a spontaneous decision, but whatever we end up doing, it will be together.

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