Let’s all do some brainstorming. Since many minds are better one (especially if that one is mine), I’m asking you to leave your best frugal valentine tip in the comments. If helping out your fellow man isn’t enough incentive, I’m going to give out a $20 gift certificate to Ebay or Amazon (winner’s choice) to two winners.
In the interest of equality, let’s not leave the women out. We want to hear the frugal ideas you have planned for your guy. Though us men love to give, we don’t mind being on the receiving end every now and again.
And everyone, please remember this is a family-friendly website, not the Newlywed Show. I recognize that whoopie is frugal, so let’s just agree, and move on to other tips.
- How to enter
- Leave a comment of your best Valentine’s Day tip – If it’s a tip that takes weeks to implement, you will get one entry. Unfortunately we don’t have weeks, but it’s good to get a head-start on next year. If it’s a tip that can be executed in the last 5 business days of Valentine’s Day, I’ll give you two entries. If I judge the idea to be of marginal help (see the “how not to enter” below), I may award no entries.
- Write about this contest – If you write about this contest on your blog and link to this page, you get three entries. Make sure you contact me for credit.
- How NOT to enter – Write about your plan to take your significant other to KFC because you saw their “KFC has chicken and corn” commercial. (Random Aside: Can we agree that the jingle might be one of the worst ever. Is there anyone who doesn’t know that KFC has chicken and corn? It doesn’t cover either of KFC’s two best sides – mashed potatoes and biscuits. It’s an epic fail.)
- Winners will be picked at random – This is why you’ll want to earn all the entries you can get.
- Three comments per person please – I don’t want to have one person take up all the good, easy ideas, but I want to encourage people to share multiple good ideas if they have them. (And I realize this goes against the concept of “Best” frugal Valentine’s Day Tip as you can’t have two bests.)
- Leave a valid email address if you want a prize – I can’t give you an award, if I don’t know how to reach you.
- Contest ends Monday, February 9th (11:59PM PT) – Everyone has to have time to implement the tips.
- As usual, I forget things – I almost always forget some detail. I came very close to publishing this without a date of when the contest ends. I’m new at offering contests. Please bare with me if I while I learn, so I can get better at sharing money with readers
So hit me up with some good ideas.
Photo Credit: aussiegall
San Francisco Boater says
Take her to the driving range for some exercise, some outdoors, and fun. < $10
Follow up with a nice lunch at the clubhouse < $15 with no drinks
Have a handwritten letter for at lunch. Draw a flower < $0
There are some very cheap DVDs these days. Relatively new DVDs for $5-$7 and 3 or 4 DVD multi-packs (romance pack, action pack, Lethal Weapon pack, etc) for ~$10.
We haven’t been to too many movies in the last 1.5 years (about the same time my daughter was born). I saw the movie “27 dresses” at Target. My wife wanted to see it when it was in the theater, but we didn’t have the chance. I think it cost $7.50.
(This isn’t her only gift, of course. I’m not that stupid)
Erica Douglass says
I don’t particularly like flowers or chocolate, but I LOVE food. Last year, my BF bought lobster at Costco (my suggestion) and we cooked it at home. Yummy, and inexpensive! (Well, inexpensive for lobster.) And you can do it same day!
We shared this tip with another couple who now plan to do the same thing. They shared with us a local market that had better lobster than Costco (although I think Costco’s is pretty good!)
One tip: Get clarified butter at the store (you can find it in little tubs at most grocery stores) instead of trying to make it yourself. Making it yourself is a pain. Regular butter doesn’t taste as good.
Erica Douglass says
Second tip: If you and your GF/wife aren’t one for lobster, try a really nice steak. You want USA prime filet or porterhouse. Buy grass-fed if you are watching your weight; it’s leaner and healthier.
Shrimp scampi is also fairly easy to make — get some jumbo shrimp, deveined, and grill them with garlic and butter sauce. (Recipes abound online.) Steam some rice to go with either entree.
The point is to try something a bit special that you normally wouldn’t buy (such as prime steak, shrimp, sea bass, or lobster) but that is still fairly simple to make at home.
#1 Start the day with a note on her pillow telling her how much you love her, and that you’ll have a special surprise for her today. Then follow up with one of the following:
#2 Prepare a candle-lit dinner at home (cost depends on what you cook, let’s say $15 for food and $10 for a bottle of wine), turn on some romantic music and dance (free) or watch a movie she actually wants to see ($5ish). I don’t know any woman who wouldn’t enjoy that night in. (I am a woman, and I’m gay, so I also like to think I know what other women like!)
#2 Take her out for a modestly priced dinner. Thai or Indian food can be a nice change of place, delicious, and not terribly expensive.
#3 If your lady likes museum and you have a decent one in town, take her to the special exhibit for ~$10-15 per person. Or how about a planetarium? Not for everyone, but it could be fun for some.
This coming from someone who doesn’t really believe in Valentine’s day. I’m lucky, my girlfriend doesn’t either.
Uhh, that would be 4 suggestions. Apparently I can’t count, so you can disregard those suggestions if you want!
Bath+Legs: Two candles, shaving cream, and a disposible razor. (Probably less than 10 bucks total). Make a big deal about drawing and preparing a bath, lighting the candles, getting warm towels out of the dryer. Attention is the best Valentine’s gift there is.
Here’s my frugal Valentine’s day plan for my girlfriend. This plan isn’t for everyone, since it requires at least one member of the couple to be proficient at cooking.
I’m going to make a gourmet fillet Mignon dinner with low lighting, a lit candles and all that jazz. I’m a good cook so this will work out well. <$15 for ingredients.
Roses will be involved: $12-15 I’m going to have to break down and buy these as I lack my own personal rose garden.
Forget buying candy. Once again I’m tapping my cooking skills to whip up a few dozen home made truffles. <$10 and I can make them ahead of time.
I’d really like to add a few post-dinner dessert martinis to the mix, but I’m afraid that my mixing skills aren’t where they need to be yet.
And of course I’ll have to toss out a lot of attention and be on my best behavior.
The only question is whether my g/f will appreciate all this effort. Seriously, this is like hours of my time to whip all this up.
One more idea. I can’t execute this one as I live in a region of the country that I affectionately refer to as a frozen yeti infested wasteland, but maybe someone who lives in Florida or Southern California could do this. Before all the dinner festivities take your girl out to a botanical garden, arboretum or other really beautiful park area. Leave the serious walking and hiking for another day, just show her around and bring her through the more picturesque areas. Maybe even have a little picnic there. You could whip up a couple of sandwiches, maybe bring along a bottle of wine.
While you may have to put some effort into finding places like this, they do exist and are usually dirt cheap (less than the cost of a dozen roses).
Erica Douglass says
Oh my gosh, just as I came back to this post to check out others’ suggestions, the “KFC has chicken and corn” commercial came on! AGH! It’s haunting me!
Another thing you can do is give a really good massage, complete with oils. Do a foot massage, too. For added points, you could rent a hot tub — there are places that rent them for a few hours! All cheap and good fun, and better than TV.
Writer's Coin says
Here’s what I’ve learned is the best possible gift you can give for any occasion: a surprise.
Whether that’s taking her on a treasure hunt in your neighborhood or giving her something she had absolutely no idea you were doing (hot air balloon), or pretending you’re going out to dinner and drinks only for it to turn into a whole weekend away at a nice hotel…just surprise the hell out of her and you’ll see how well that goes over.
One of the best Valentine’s Day presents my DH ever got me was a red rose bush, and he planted it for me, too! It cost less than roses from a florist, and it’s kept me supplied with flowers ever since.
Since Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this year, breakfast in bed would be a great, frugal “gift.” I would be thrilled to get coffee & french toast in bed for Val’s day.
Lest you think that I’m not doing anythying for MY sweetie, I plan to make my husband a german chocolate cake, from scratch, for Val’s day. The ingredients are less than $10, but the labor & time are significant, and it’s his very favorite cake.
Also, silly as this may seem, I found him some silicon brushes for brushing bbq sauce on when he’s grilling, which he does quite often-one of the brushes even has a hollow handle that holds sauce. Seems trivial, but I didn’t even know these existed ’til last night, and I know he’s not pleased w/ the results he’s been getting from the small paintbrush he’s been using. I’m confident he’ll like the brushes, and they cost less than $15. So, if you can think of a small, inexpensive item that will make your sweetie’s life a lot easier, that would be a great gift.
Richer and Slimmer says
Write her a long love letter. Use a nice piece of specialty paper and some nice ink. You can choose the color and the scent of the paper and the ink to match your sweetie’s favorite color and scent. Write about how much you love her and why she is the most important thing in your life.
Trust me, even though this will only set you off by a few dollars, she will cherish it forever (I am a girl, so I know).
Richer and Slimmer says
If she is into heart shaped stuff and likes Italian food, you can cook her heart shaped pasta for valentines day dinner:
Richer and Slimmer says
Frame a photo of the two of you (preferably one that was taken somewhere romantic) and give it to her as her v-day present.
Amanda N says
Go out and rent, or order from Netflix, one or two of the movies that your loved one always wants to watch on TV when he/she flips to them, but they never watch them becuase you don’t like them that much. Then pick up their favorite soft drink and candy and have a movie night where you sit there and at least try to get into a movie that your significant other loves. Cost is $10-$15. It will mean a lot though.
Momma @ 3princessesmomma.com says
This is easy! I did this last year:
I made a Mix Tape (Well, iTunes playlist anyway) with songs that told a story of our relationship from meeting to now. I spread blankets and pillows on the floor in our bedroom and lit candles on every surface. We had a picnic dinner in the floor. I cooked dinner, but it doesn’t matter if you cook or get take-out. End with feeding one another dessert.
It’s quiet, romantic, inexpensive.. and close to the important furniture. Hmmm… Guess it’s no wonder we ended up with 6 kids.
Penelope Pince says
I wrote a post on my blog with Valentine’s Day gifts and date ideas last week; I hope you don’t mind my using those.
Take your significant other on a tour of your romantic spots including places where you met, had your first date, first kissed, got engaged and any other milestones of your relationship took place.
You could even bring a picnic of food that you ate on those dates.
Penelope Pince says
Tip #2 (for girls):
If your guy is a sports fan (hockey, I am told is the sport for February), let him watch his favorite sport without bugging him. Bring him popcorn, chips, beer or other favorite foods and wait until commercial break if you need to talk to him about anything.
He’ll probably feel really appreciative when the game is over and reward you accordingly. ;)
Penelope Pince says
Tip #3 (for guys):
Are there tasks around the house that your girl has been asking you to take care of for a while? Fixing something that broke, mowing the lawn, cleaning out the garage, etc.?
They may be unromantic tasks, but what better day to show that you care than doing the things she has asked you to do?
Instead of buying chocolates, make homemade chocolate candy. Try heart shaped lollipop molds and pour in the melted chocolate. This year I’m going to try to make something like a peanut butter cup
Make a special themed night in. Coordinate food, music and simple decorations. My favorite would be a tropical or beach theme. Crank up the heat for the evening, dress in beach attire, eat simple fare (such as breads, cheeses, fruits, soups…), put on upbeat music and enjoy being together.
I detail this more thoroughly in my post, but I wrote a tip about celebrating Valentine’s Day on the 15th. You won’t have to worry about reservations. Flowers will be back to normal prices. Candy will be 50% off, and lots of Valentine’s Day jewelry and other trinkets will be on clearance as well. (Also a good way to stock up on cards/gifts for future years.) Most importantly, since everyone will have been out celebrating the night before, you’re likely to have a quieter, not-packed restaurant.
All the romance of Valentine’s Day for a lot less money!
Alternately, for those who are either single or just not into the mushiness, I suggest an unValentine’s Day. We’re doing this for a friend of ours, since his girlfriend is over in Germany. You find the least romantic movie you can. You eat someplace horribly unromantic, such as fast food. The last activity is up to you. Go dancing, but not in a meat market; have some drinks with friends and complain about the stupid holiday; play a drinking game with those awful, cheesy love stories. Whatever. In our case, we’ll probably rent some bad movies and heckle them over drinks.
(For the truly frugal unValentine’s Day, get the goriest film you can and make spaghetti. The red works for both the holiday and the blood aspect.)
Happy Valentine’s Day!
For the guys out there trying to come up with something tangible to give to their wives,
My husband has given me quite a few presents over birthdays, holidays, etc. But the single thing I treasure most is a note on flowers he sent to me last Valentine’s Day. It says simply, “For the love of my life. You are the best thing that ever happened to me. I love you.”
Almost a full year later and I still have it up on the fridge, and I still get a tad mushy when I reread it.
Moral of the story? You don’t have to make a big production of writing down your feelings for her. Sometimes simple is best, so long as it’s heartfelt. (Also, I’d like to note that I almost swallowed my tongue when I saw how much the friggin flowers cost, so I don’t suggest going that road, folks. The card is what I cherish and remember.)
And if you’re afraid a simple message isn’t enough — and if you’re with the right woman, it should at least go a long way — find some starter plants or seeds and write a note about the two of you growing them together. There’s a whole metaphor about relationships in there, plus container gardens can be a good frugal way to save on some vegetables, like lettuce.
My favorite Valentine to receive is a love letter. For twenty years my husband wrote me a love letter every year and every year it got better and better. Somehow the envelope appeared on my pillow Valentine morning. I keep them in a special album. Frugal and fundamental yet tres romantic. (I usually made him heart-shaped brownies.)
The two favorites I’ve received are a sweet, handwritten note (bonus points for the year he hid it in my sock drawer and I discovered it when I was dressing for work after he’d headed out to the office already – it made me smile all day) and renting a movie through iTunes to watch on our laptop, snuggled up on the couch.
This year I’m making him a special meal. I don’t eat red meat, but he loves steak, so I’m cooking steak for the first time! I’ve done my research, and planned out a menu (salad, steak with baked potato and grilled asparagus, and molten lava cake for dessert), and I saved a bottle of our favorite wine from our visit last year to a winery in PA. I’ll just make a poached fish or something for myself to substitute for the steak. Somehow, preparing something for him that he loves but I don’t feels extra special, and we’ll both get something we want!
Laura K says
1. Do something around the house for your sweetie
2. Make a picnic in the living room (or take it outside if you’re lucky enough to live in a warm climate) – light the candles, cook something special
3. Write a sweet, heartfelt note on why you love you significant other so much
Well I believe if you want to make your valentine feel special then a great idea for you is to place a small love note with three magical words written on it ‘I Love You’ and place it besides her bed and see the miraculous effects.
My wife and I are making each other desserts and then cooking together for valentines day!
Maggie Ohnesorge says
for the single people out there:
host a board game night. invite all of your single friends (male and female), and instruct them to bring the following: their favorite board game, a bottle of wine, and a dessert (homemade or store bought). let the fun ensue.
Maggie Ohnesorge says
for the ladies to give to the men:
(my husband’s suggestion, actually…)
re-enact star wars. you know, princess leia.
Maggie Ohnesorge says
for the men to give to the ladies:
mop the kitchen floor.
If you can’t be with the one you love on V-Day, here’s the frugal solution:
-Skype each other
Instead of spending a lot of money to travel and see each other (even though that would be best emotionally, but not financially), get on Skype and spend time together that way. You’re probably paying for Internet already so this will add not a single dime to your budget.
Even if you don’t have a webcam already, getting one will be a solid investment for your relationship beyond V-Day.
Buy your SO the game, Twister.
You can run down to any toy store and buy one (and probably at a discount!) so this doesn’t take lots of planning. Play the game as usual, which should be lots of fun. Throw in a kiss or two along the way and it will make for a great V-Day :)
Make a list of all the things your SO has given you that have made you happy in some way.
The catch is, the things can’t be tangible.
Ex: “You gave me hope that I could be a better person by believing in me, even after I made a mistake/lost my job/etc.”
This will show your SO what you really value.
Saver Queen says
I actually wrote a post on 50 fun, FREE things to do on Valentine’s Day here: http://saverqueen.com/2009/02/10/fifty-fun-free-things-to-do-on-valentines-day/
But here are 3 of my faves. (All are free!)
1. Go sledding. What could be more fun than reconnecting with your fun, free-wheeling, inner child. Wrap your arms tightly around your partner as you speed down a snow-covered hill. Bring a thermos of hot chocolate with a little baileys or rum!
2. Dance. You don’t have to leave the house. Just put on some favourite music and dance together. You can have a romantic dance to “your song” but you can also put on some Michael Jackson and moon walk around the house or play some Chubby Checker and twist together. Relax and let loose.
3. Prepare your own “pub night” at home – enjoy delectable snacks and guilty pleasures without worrying about the cost. For how-to instructions: http://saverqueen.com/2009/01/26/how-to-have-your-own-pub-night-at-home/
I sponsored an animal at a shelter and printed out a picture to give as the gift. We really don’t need anything so giving just a small gift to someone who can’t support themselves gives us time to think about how lucky we are without having to spend a fortune proving our love.
V-Day isn’t about the money, so this year, my boyfriend and I have decided to not spend any on each other. Our gifts have to be made from stuff around our houses, or stuff found in nature. It`ll make for an interesting one. That’s my tip, don’t just assume that you have to spend big bucks to have a good V-Day, create something meaningful and from the heart, and it will be cherished so much more than a box of chocolates.
I recently lost my job, so I am extremely low on funds. This is actually the plan that I am going to use. I feel like a cheapskate, but I can only use what I have.
My sweety loves caramel apples, so I’m going to head down to the chocolate factory and grab her one of those in a few minutes. Near the chocolate factory is a Hallmark card store (cards are obligatory), so that’s two birds with one stone. I have Netflix, and I’m really hoping she’ll find Half-Baked to be funny as I do. The weather sucks in L.A. right now, so I’m thinking we might just stay in. My problem is I only have $20.00 to my name (maybe more if people pay for their eBay auctions today via PayPal). I’m HOPING to have enough to order some delivery (maybe Numero Uno Pizza; maybe Szchechuan). I’m crossing my fingers!