Go for a gift that's meaningful, not expensive, and consider these seven sweet, thoughtful ideas to show your love on a shoestring budget:
1. Help Out in Unexpected Ways
Forget chocolates and material presents. Nothing says "I love you" like taking care of a task or chore your significant other hates to do. It may not sound fancy or glamorous, but think about it: How happy would you be if you came home to all the laundry done, the dishes put away, the carpets vacuumed, and dinner on the table? Not only do you get to sit right down and enjoy quality time with your partner, but you won't have to worry about chores for the rest of the weekend.
2. Plan a Rare Treat
Who has time for breakfast in bed? Even weekend mornings can get busy, so while it's a nice idea, there's rarely a chance to execute. Plan ahead and block off a period of time -- either on Valentine's Day or the weekend after -- to get up early, prepare the food, and treat your love to a special meal.
If a romantic dinner is more your style, consider picking up some seasonal produce from the grocery store along with an inexpensive bottle of wine. This is a perfect way to have a great meal on the cheap.
Another low-cost romantic meal option (weather permitting) is to take a picnic. Pack a basket or bag with some cheese, crackers, and wine, and head off to your favorite park. Even if it's chilly, you can always head to a scenic overlook and enjoy a parked picnic in the car.
3. Is Your Sweetheart More Traditional?
If your partner prefers the conventional Valentine's Day experience, you can't go wrong with beautiful flowers and a handwritten love note. Don't worry about splurging on a dozen roses. You can pick up a bouquet from your local grocer for around $10 to $12, and seasonal flowers can help maximize the savings. And all it takes is a few minutes to write out a heartfelt letter to go with it. If roses are her favorite flower, a single rose and a box of chocolates is a great way to show you care.
4. Let Your Inner Artist Shine
Forget about buying commercially made greeting cards and stuffed bears.
5. Have a Love-Themed Movie Night
A movie night at home doesn't have to be boring -- just throw in some romance. Create a movie gift basket for your loved one: Start with a Redbox DVD you've both been dying to see, add a bottle of his or her favorite (inexpensive) wine or a comfy throw -- Target (TGT) has some nice fleece blankets for about $10 -- and a small box of chocolate candy or, even better, a homemade treat. Don't forget a sweet note that says how much you care.
6. Explore Your Own Backyard
If you're set on having a date night out, make it a budget-friendly one. Explore a new part of town you've never been to and spend your time walking around and seeing the sights. Instead of hitting up the fancy restaurants, try something new and visit a smaller establishment the locals love. Check out TripAdvisor to find affordable yet highly rated restaurants in your area. You could even grab dinner from a food truck for a fun -- and cheaper -- meal out.
7. Saying 'I Love You'
It doesn't cost a thing to share your feelings with the one you love. Let your partner know how much it means to you that he or she is in your life. If you're one who finds sharing your feelings somewhat difficult, make the effort: Your honey will surely appreciate it.