Money certainly doesn’t buy love (like, true love), but Valentine’s Day marketers always do their best to convince us that chocolates, fancy dinners and jewelry are sure-fire ways to your beloved’s heart.
Last Valentine’s Day, the National Retail Federation estimated Americans spent close to $12 billion on their significant others and spouses – the most most in nearly a decade. Broken down, each person spent about $90 on gifts.
But if you’re tired of the same old gift selection and want to avoid 100% markups on roses this time of year, consider these free or very inexpensive ways to celebrate with your loved one. Below are 6 crowd-sourced ideas from all over the country on how to spend little to nothing on a special Valentine’s surprise for your significant other.
A Priceless Surprise
“Last year, for my boyfriend’s birthday, I drove down to see him. (It was a long distance relationship where he lived 4 hours away.) He had always made the drive, but that was my first time. We went to the beach. We spent time – not money – and had a wonderful time.”
– Chant’l from Washington D.C.
Inexpensive, But Sentimental
“Once, I found a $3 necklace and earring set that was made of oyster shells. The significance is that the Tahitian officiator at our wedding gave me a beautiful oyster shell and told my wife that she is the pearl that I’m to take care of. Thanks for the great gift, Walmart!”
– Brigham from Seattle, WA
A Shower of Valentines
“Several years ago I made my husband (then boyfriend) a pouch from his old pants and embroidered it with sayings that were sentimental. I also made two sachets with material I had on hand filled with herbs from the pantry. He once wrote out a bunch of small index cards with nice compliments about me he then dumped them on my head. He showered me in valentines!”
– Laura from Yonkers, NY
“I gave my girlfriend (now wife) a homemade ‘coupon book.’ The coupons were nice things we could do for free that she could cash in any time she wanted – like a back rub, watching a movie at home with popcorn, have me do all the chores one day, things like that. Part of the gift was that there were no restrictions on when she could use them, so they came in handy for her when she was having a bad day, etc.”
– Andrew from Fort Mill, SC
“For our Valentine’s Day, I wrote the answers to the 36 Questions That Lead to Love inside a small notebook and gave it to him. We obviously were not strangers, and already in love… but a little extra assurance never hurts! He returned the favor for my birthday that same year.”
– Katie from Denver, CO
“I drew a series of cartoons depicting moments from our life together. They are hanging on our wall now… and our kids like to ask questions about them.”
– Nina from Nanuet, NY
Farnoosh Torabi is America’s leading personal finance authority hooked on helping Americans live their richest, happiest lives. From her early days reporting for Money Magazine to now hosting a primetime series on CNBC and writing monthly for O, The Oprah Magazine, she’s become our favorite go-to money expert and friend.