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6 Unique Valentine's Day Dates for the Budget-Conscious

You can always tell when Valentine's Day is just around the corner - love songs on every station, rom-coms on every channel, and commercials for everything from edible bouquets to diamond jewelry, and it's no wonder why: The National Retail Association estimates that Americans spent over $18.2 billion on Valentine's Day last year. When money's tight, it can be hard to enjoy this holiday of love with all the commercial pressures that come along with it, but you don't have to overspend to show your sweetheart you care.

Celebrate Valentine's Month

Putting so many expectations into one day can result in a lot of pressure on you to really deliver something special. It's easy to lose track of the true meaning of this holiday, which is showing your loved one how much they mean to you. People who celebrate Valentine's Day only once a year are missing out on opportunity to give their loved ones their best all month long. Going out on Valentine's Day can be as busy as it is pricey, but celebrating throughout the month can relieve you of the day-of pressures and let you take advantage of uncrowded restaurants, affordable flowers and post-Valentine's-Day candy sales. Celebrate Valentine's Day throughout the month, find little ways to remind your Valentine how special they are to you, and get together whenever you can, not just on the big day.

Plan a Day Date

There are plenty of ways to save more and spend less so you have more cash left over for yourself and the ones you love, and most of them involve thinking outside the box. Dinner and a movie can make for a pricey date night out, but you can do the same things for much less by making a day-date of it.

Here are a few easy day-date ideas for some romance on a budget:

  • Take a Hike. Snap some pictures together in the beauty all around you.
  • Grab Coffee. Coffee and pastries are cheaper than dinner and a movie.
  • Check Out Lunch Menus. Eat the same food for less in many cases.
  • Catch a Matinée Showing. See when theaters near you are showing the same films for less.
  • Visit a Local Attraction. Aquariums, museums, and zoos are affordable alternative dates.

Work Out Together

If you have a busy and active lifestyle, it might feel hard to fit your work out into your schedule, but it doesn't have to be that way. Why not make your Valentine your new work out buddy this year? If you have a gym membership already, you may be able to invite a guest for a free trial. A romantic couples' yoga class can help you enjoy some facetime with your date and stretch away the stress of the day. Working out together can be a great bonding experience that helps you get to know your partner while you both work toward being your best selves.

Couple's Cooking

Nothing is more romantic than a home-cooked meal for two, and if you and your mate are no strangers to the kitchen, learning to make something tasty together might be the perfect way to celebrate each other this Valentine's Day. A couple's cooking lesson generally costs between $50 and $75, which is about the cost of a nice dinner out anyway, and you walk away with more than a doggy bag at the end of it.

You don't have to choose between paying your month expenses and showing your Valentine a good time this February. Payday loans can help you out if you're strapped for cash, but if you're a kitchen whiz yourself, why not host your own cooking lesson for your date this Valentine's Day? Pop open a bottle of wine, play some romantic music, and share a recipe that's near and dear to you for something truly special.

Skip Straight to Dessert

Who says you have to wait for dessert? Why not skip the hassle and expense of eating out and share a tasty treat with your sweetheart at a bakery or ice cream shop this Valentine's Day. You can even spoil your date's appetite for less by buying something at the grocery store to split or making something yourself at home. Whether you chill out with a sundae bar or bake something to warm their heart this Valentine's Day, skipping straight to dessert is a fun treat they're sure to appreciate.

Volunteer Together

Volunteering your time for a cause that's near and dear to your heart is a great way to give back to your community when you and your Valentine have more than enough love in your hearts to spare. What cause is closest to you? Sites like AllForGood can help you connect with a variety of meaningful volunteer opportunities in your area. Perhaps playing with pups at an animal rescue or visiting the elderly at a nursing home could be the perfect opportunity for you and your Valentine to share your goodwill and kindness with someone who really needs it this year.