It’s the most romantic time of the year, and for many couples, it means spending their whole paycheck on an expensive dinner, a fancy bouquet of flowers, and gourmet chocolates.  While all these things are nice, it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money to have a memorable and romantic Valentine’s day.   

In the end, your significant other just wants to be loved and cared for.  Below are 8 of my favorite affordable, romantic Valentine’s day ideas:

1.  Cook dinner at home.   Make a dinner that your loved one would like.  This is how Alena and I spent our first Valentine’s Day together, and she loved it.  I made Alena a baked salmon dinner, and we also enjoyed some wine and a small box of chocolates, with candles and our favorite music in the background.  For young couples with kids, get the kids involved in making or decorating a dish or dessert, and remember to save time for the next idea or two after they go to bed, or get a babysitter for the evening.

2.  Massage each other.  Get some scented, massage oil, and give each other a relaxing, sensual massage.

3.  Movie night.  Cuddle up to one of the 50 Greatest Date Movies of All Time.

4.  Take a spontaneous trip to a nearby park or beach.  With the low cost of gas these days, hop in the car with your loved one, and with your favorite music playing, drive to the nearest park or beach to watch the sunset.  Or wake up early and drive to a nearby park to watch the sunrise.  Depending on the weather and your location, go for a walk and take pictures together. 

5.  Do an act of service.  Surprise your loved one by doing a chore exactly how they would do it, before they can get to it.  It'll be much appreciated.   

6.  Write a love letter.  Write a letter to your loved one telling them 10 things that you love about them and read it to them after dinner.

7.  Exercise together.  Go running, kayaking, hiking, or biking, do yoga, etc.  It’ll bring out those feel good endorphins and help put you both in the mood.

8.  Dance.  As a former professional dancer and dance teacher, I can’t have a list without this one.  Put on your favorite dance music and dance at home, or go for latin or ballroom dance lessons.

Saving Money and the Environment While on Your Valentines Date

Lastly, if you want to go a step further and save money and the environment (which may turn on someone who is into combating climate change), check out this quirky blog I wrote few years ago while working at the Energy Department to Save Money by Saving Energy during Valentine's Day.

To the Singles

Last but not least, to the singles out there, Valentines day may feel like a bummer, especially if you're single, looking, and haven't met that person yet.  I know - I've been there time and time again.  But I also believe that this blog will help you meet the right person (I have you in mind in writing it), and when you do, all those solo Valentine's days will fade into the background.  For now, love your life, your friends, and your family, work hard and achieve your goals, follow this blog, be brave and put yourself out there, and enjoy the best things about being single.