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14 Cheap Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

Stores love Valentine’s Day—even more than lovebirds do.

They aim their marketing efforts and cheesy commercials like arrows straight for the heart. Millions of dollars are spent each year to pull on heartstrings and push everything from fancy dinners and champagne to pricey flower bouquets and sparkly stud earrings. Because after all, love is a diamond, right? Wrong.

Here’s the thing though. All that advertising still somehow works on people. In 2021, Americans were expected to shell out more than $21.8 billion for Valentine’s Day.1 That’s around $165 per person! And this year, that number is supposed to hit nearly $24 billion.2 But guess what—you don’t have to spend a lot of money to show your valentine you care. Here are 14 cheap Valentine’s Day date ideas to impress your date (and your wallet). 

1. Enjoy Dinner and a Movie 

Okay, we know, dinner and a movie is the most traditional date in the book, but don’t knock it. There’s no stopping you from getting creative with it—and you might have to if COVID-19 restrictions are still in place where you live. So how about a candlelit home-cooked meal and a romantic movie on Netflix? Your meal doesn’t have to break the bank either. Order a pizza, splurge on delivery food, or grab your meal to go from your favorite local restaurant. While everyone else is scrambling to find a reservation and a babysitter, you can relax at home. 

2. Hit the Open Road

Just get in the car with your love and drive! You might spend a little money on gas, but you’ll create some lasting memories as you travel to a town you’ve never visited or even hit up a famous landmark. You could also revisit the special places around town where you’ve created fun memories and take pictures together there. Don’t forget to make a playlist to listen to while driving around.

3. Have a Game Night

This is the ultimate cheap date night. Who doesn’t love a good board game and a little competition? Dust off a few classic board games from your closet or pick up a new game and make a night of it. Are video games more your thing? Then you can go that route too. All that gaming will probably make you hungry, so have some Valentine’s-themed food on hand to snack on. You can’t go wrong with red velvet cupcakes, candy conversation hearts or the gold standard—a heart-shaped box of chocolates. 

4. Visit the Museum

Two tickets to a local museum usually aren’t too crazy expensive. And sometimes you can even find coupons. Learn a little about art or history—and each other! Combine this idea with your home-cooked dinner and a movie or game night, and you’ll have a packed day full of fun.

5. Take a Hike

Pack a lunch, grab a few water bottles, and hit the trail. There’s nothing like getting away from the hustle and bustle of daily life to help you connect. You’ll be amazed at the quality of conversation you can have with someone while you’re hiking up a mountain or through a trail in the woods. And bonus points for all the exercise you’ll get in! It’s Valentine’s Day after all, so why not get your heart in shape while you’re at it?

6. Stroll a Garden Nursery

Skip the $100 delivery of a dozen long-stemmed roses and take a trip to a tree nursery instead! Why drop major dough on flowers that are just going to die (shocker) when you can invest in a plant that’s going to keep on giving. Grab a small bush or tree for your backyard or pick up some flower bulbs to plant now and wait for them to pop up when the weather gets warm (spring is coming, you know).

7. Go to the Farmers Market

Okay, so February might be a chilly time to walk around the farmers market (bundle up). And truth be told, farmers markets might not be open in your area during February. But if they are open and the weather is nice, it makes for a super cheap and easy date. Give each other a budget for buying some fun items, or go on a hunt to see who can find the best homemade jam or beef jerky. And if you spend zero dollars and just end up walking around together—that’s okay too.

8. Cook Dinner Together 

Pick up some good veggies at the farmers market? Put them to use in your Valentine’s Day meal. Despite what every Valentine’s Day commercial tells you, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make memories. Send the kids to Grandma’s house and make a romantic dinner together. It can be as fancy as you’d like (filet mignon) or as low-key as you’d like (grilled cheese and tomato soup). Put on a little Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin or Nat King Cole in the background for the perfect Valentine’s romantic tunes. 

9. Take a Trip Down Memory Lane

Get out that box of old photos, watch your wedding video, or read through love letters you’ve given to each other. Nothing gives you butterflies in your stomach like remembering the love you’ve shared throughout the years. Spend some time remembering where you’ve been and looking forward to all that the future holds for the two of you! 

10. Go on a Picnic 

If the weather is nice, get outside. Make sandwiches or grab some cheese, crackers and a bottle of wine. Then find a quiet spot together to sit and relax. You don’t have to be at a four-star restaurant to connect with your special someone. 

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And if the weather outside is too cold for a picnic (you know, winter and all), then lay out a blanket and have a picnic right there on the living room floor.

11. Grab Coffee Together

Never brush off the romantic power of coffee and conversation. For as little as 10 bucks (depending on how fancy your coffee tastes are), you can have a memorable Valentine’s Day date. You can hang out in the coffee shop having a meaningful chat or take the coffee to go and walk around town. As long as you’re together and caffeinated, you can’t go wrong.

12. Go Stargazing

The best kind of cheap Valentine’s Day date? The free kind. And guess what—stargazing at night is absolutely free. Plus, it’s downright romantic too. If you live far away from a lot of city lights, this will be pretty easy to pull off. But if you don’t, then just go for a drive outside of the city so you can see the stars. Own a telescope? Then bring it along for the ride. But don’t worry, you can still see the stars without one.

Bonus: Naming a star after your significant other makes for a pretty great last-minute gift.

13. Visit an Arcade

Hop in a time machine back to simpler times—like when your biggest worry in life was getting eaten by the Pac-Man ghosts. Retro arcades are popping up more and more these days. And the best part is, it usually costs between 50 cents to $1 to play a game. Just be sure you budget out how much you want to spend before you walk in. Because once you get there, it’s a little too easy to bounce from game to game without realizing you just dropped $30.

14. Do a Thrift Store Challenge

All right, this one knocks out two birds with one stone—you’ve got your gifts and Valentine’s Day date idea taken care of here. Hit up your local thrift store with $10 for each of you to spend on gifts for each other. Then have fun going around the store hunting for just the right gift for your love. Will you score an ugly stuffed pheasant or a charming music box that plays “your song”? Gag gift or heartfelt, you never know what you might find. 

And remember—quality time doesn’t cost a dime. If money’s tight, you can’t go wrong with a sincere love letter and one-on-one time spent with each other. Whichever Valentine’s Day date idea you end up going with, just make sure you budget for it first. Let our free budgeting app, EveryDollar, help you stay on track and keep you from being tempted to go overboard this Valentine’s Day.

Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey Solutions

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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