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Valentine’s Day Romance on the Cheap - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Let’s say you want to do something nice for your spouse or date on Valentine’s Day, but you don’t exactly have a wad of cash on hand for fancy dinners and expensive gifts.

Now, let me give you a dirty little secret: You don’t have to break the bank to create a romantic day. Here are some alternatives to the usual Valentine’s Day fuss.


The first thing you need to decide on is what you want to do with your date. If you’re looking for some inexpensive ideas, we’ve got you covered.


A movie date might be the usual Valentine’s Day standby, but you don’t have to drop $50 between tickets and snacks. Instead, curl up on the couch with a streaming movie and a big bowl of microwave popcorn on your lap. Seeing as you’re not paying $10 a ticket, you could watch a couple of movies if you wanted – one for you and one for your significant other.

If you’re still longing to see something on the silver screen, you might be aided this year by the fact that Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday. This means you can get an early start and go to one of the cheaper matinee showings. This would be a lighter hit to the pocketbook.

Ice Skating

For a couple of bucks’ admission and skate rental, you and your beau can go ice skating at a local indoor or outdoor rink. Don’t worry about it if you don’t have the most graceful skating ability. This is an opportunity for you to hold hands as you make your way around the ice surface.

Besides, if you fall on your backside a time or two, it makes a good story to tell the kids down the line.

Carriage Ride

If you live near a big city with horse-drawn carriages, this could be an attractive option to treat your beau like a prince or princess for a little while. These generally aren’t too expensive, and they can be very romantic.

If the potential of smelling horse droppings doesn’t appeal to you, there are businesses that operate electric carriages, which still give you that fancy night-on-the-town feel.

If you’re up for a little more adventure, horseback riding could be an option if the weather is decent in your area.


This one’s easy enough. Just clear some space on your floor and crank up the tunes. After that, you can lean in close or cut loose depending on your mood. Just make sure you know what you’re doing before you try the final scene of “Dirty Dancing.”


Meal planning can be tricky if you’re not spending a lot of money. Thankfully, you do have a few good options in this area.


Although traditionally you might do a Valentine’s dinner, the lunch menu is often a little less costly. This is another time where Valentine’s Day being on Saturday can work to your advantage. You can go straight from the morning movie to lunch and make a day of it.

Enjoy Dinner in a White Castle

By White Castle, I mean the kind that serves sliders. Obviously your date would have to be the right kind of person, but hear me out.

Each year on Valentine’s Day, White Castle puts out a special printed menu, eschews bare tabletops for candles and white tablecloths and has waiters bring food to your table. They even take reservations.

Heart-Shaped Pizza

If you’re looking for a pizza, you can get it in a heart shape from various places for Valentine’s Day. Pair that with breadsticks and salad, and you’ve got a full meal.

If you want to be more economical about it, Pillsbury has its own recipe.

Home-Cooked Meal

Everyone appreciates a good homemade meal. It also has the bonus effect of showing your spouse you can cook.

You don’t have to be Wolfgang Puck. Everyone has a couple of dishes in their repertoire. You could even incorporate cooking the meal into the date, spending the day showing each other how to make a couple of your favorite dishes.


Gifts can also be tricky on a budget, but your constraints may work in your favor by forcing you to come up with something a little more personal than a gift certificate or earrings.

A Jarring Idea

This is super easy and can make for a really nice presentation. You take a mason jar and fill it with whatever theme you’re going for. You can have “Spa in a Jar” filled with lotions and creams. You could make a confectioner’s jar filled with candy and sweets. The possibilities are really endless here.

Picture Frame

You present your date with the picture frame and then go on your date. During the date, be sure to take a special picture to fill the frame and preserve the memory.

Relationship Coupons

In most situations, I wouldn’t take relationship advice from Sheldon Cooper of “The Big Bang Theory.” That being said, the relationship coupons he gives Amy Farrah Fowler at the end of one Valentine’s Day episode are actually not a bad idea.

Relationship coupons are an excellent way to extend the romance well past Valentine’s Day. These coupons could be for things you do or activities you plan with your significant other. Instead of just going to a romantic comedy (or an action movie) on Valentine’s Day, you can spread these types of opportunities throughout the year to keep things interesting.

Do you have ideas for inexpensive Valentine’s activities? Share them with other readers in the comments.

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