I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a huge fan of days that are purely commercial. Valentine’s Day is one of those. I’m sure it’s a huge money maker for card makers, chocolatiers and restaurants. Yet I’d be somewhat disappointed if the day passed and nothing was acknowledged. Valentine’s Day should be about appreciating the one you love. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

Here are some ideas for celebrating a frugal Valentine’s Day.

Cook a romantic dinner together

Find a new recipe. Buy the ingredients together. Get a bottle of wine, light some candles, put on some favourite music and get dressed up nicely. If you have young kids, you can have your romantic dinner after they’re in bed for the night. There is something very intimate about cooking side by side.

Write your beloved a note instead of buying a card

This is my favourite Valentine tradition of ours. I have every Valentine note my husband has ever written me. He uses plain old pen and paper but his words meant more than any store bought card every could.

Think outside the box

Forget flowers, chocolate and cards unless you know that’s what she’d love. Find something that is special to that individual, be it a book, a CD or a day of skiing together. Ask your partner what they would like. Don’t assume the traditional route is the best. I for one would prefer plants to flowers. I’m okay with chocolate as long as it’s Lindor truffles and I think cards are a complete waste of money. Why spend $7 to get someone else to tell me how you feel about me?

Make it a family affair

In our house we celebrate on a Friday night when the grandparents have the kids over at their house. On the 14th, we have a family candlelit dinner and write notes to each other. We bake heart shaped cookies or a pink cake along with a favourite family meal. We’ll write each of our kids a Valentine’s note and give them each a few chocolates.

Go to bed early

You don’t have to go to sleep anytime soon but I can think of a few fun free things to do after the kids are asleep. Give yourself plenty of time so neither one of you feels tired or rushed. Enough said on that one.

Don’t even think about avoiding Valentine’s Day unless you both agree on it.
I’ve seen many a new relationship end shortly after February 14th when one partner views the day as a purely commercial event better to be ignored. Talk about it before it arrives. If you both hate the day go ahead and skip it. Just be warned, if you don’t talk about it and nothing happens someone has the potential to be greatly disappointed.

For those who are single

When I was single Valentine’s Day was my least favourite day of the year. That was until a group of friends got together for an anti-Valentine’s party. Find a group of friends who aren’t currently in relationships and have a big party. No chocolate, romantic movies or flowers allowed.

How are you spending Valentine’s Day this year?

Kathryn has been a staff writer for MDJ since January 2009. During the day she works in an office. In her off hours, she volunteers as a financial coach helping ordinary Canadians with the basics of money management. Kathryn, along with her husband and two children live in Ontario.


  1. PD on February 9, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Good point on the how to spend Valentine’s Day when you are single. I am in that category and I usually just skip it. I like the idea of getting some friends together and just hanging out. This year it falls on Ontario’s family day weekend and I get to spend it with my entire family. I’m actually looking forward to the day, for once.

  2. Future Money-Bags on February 9, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Im working all that day, and my lovely girl is out of town. In fact across the world, so I will just try to call her on that day!
    Now if only there were some frugal ways to call cell-phones that are in different continents…

  3. YYC27 on February 9, 2010 at 11:27 am

    We agreed not to spend any money on each other this Valentine’s Day. It’s usually a fairly low-key event for us, anyway. We’ll probably just stay in and cook a nice meal.

  4. Zura on February 9, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Long-distance phone card is one option. You can pretty much get one from any of the corner stores and a $5 card can give you 100-350 minutes depending on where you are calling. You may also buy online and get a discount (ie $5 card for $4.75, something like that).

  5. Craig on February 9, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Keep it simple, any home cooked meal and just quality time will be nice.

  6. J on February 9, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    My wife and I are going to be in Big White Ski Resort this Valentine’s Day…. I thought I got a “get out of jail free card” but my wife hinted to me the other night that it would be nice if I arrange a romantic evening in the village for the two of us….UGH!!!

  7. marc on February 9, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I’m single but will be bringing in some entertainment ;)

  8. Ms Save Money on February 9, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    @ J,

    Does “UGH” mean you don’t want romance with your wife? lol

  9. Steve Zussino on February 9, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    I really enjoy Valentines Day. My wife and I both get dressed up and have a nice meal to celebrate.

    I like to get her some nice flowers (not roses) and some nice chocolates and a gift.

    It is important to recognize your partner/wife/husband.

    I remember when I was single (I hated Valentine’s day – so much pressure to do something).

  10. J on February 9, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Ms. Save Money….

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the romance that my wife and I have together, but I don’t find anything romantic or enjoyable about Valentine’s Day. It’s romance by design which is why it is a dreadful experience for me.

    I love being spontaneous with my wife. The smile you get and the warm emotions from a romantic gesture or experiences when they aren’t expecting it is priceless!

    Honey, if you are reading this, I promise to do something really special for you while we are away!!! I love you…..

  11. Kathryn on February 9, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    My husband is away this year for Valentine’s Day so I’l be spending it making heart shaped cookies with the kids and watching a movie from zip.ca.

  12. Lillie on February 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    This will probably be one of the best Valentine’s Day for me because my sister will visiting. Too, my children, grandchildren, and greatgrand son will all be around. But prior to that I will be celebrating girlfriend time both Friday and Saturday sharing facials, fun and food with anyone who shows up for the occasion. In addition to that my daughter’s church is having an event that Saturday evening. The only thing that I have to do for all events is to show up. Best of all, we make it a habit never to wait for Valentine’s Day to show or say “I love you.” It’s an everyday affair and everyday for us is Valentine’s Day!

  13. Robert on February 9, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    “Don’t even think about avoiding Valentine’s Day unless you both agree on it.”

    Yep. Fortunately one of the first things I told my then-future-wife was “I don’t do Valentine’s Day. Accept that.” She was in full agreement, and 25 years later we still agree on it!

    ONCE I bought her flowers … on Feb 16. They were really inexpensive then! If I did the 15th it would look like they were merely post-Valentines. 2 days though and I was merely begging to be let out of the dog house for some other transgression …

    Personally, I have never understood why someone would buy cut flowers as a token of love – they are already dying when you buy them!

  14. Ms Save Money on February 9, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    @ J,

    haha – I know what you mean – I was just joking.

  15. Griff (Financial Freedom 5G Team) on February 9, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Good ideas. I love creative date ideas that don’t cost much. In my opinion when it comes to Valentines day, girls need romance and guys need help. Ha! thanks for the post.

  16. Four Pillars on February 9, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    We’re visiting my parents this weekend so it should be fun. Not sure if we’ll do anything for V day or just wait to have a nice dinner out next week when we are back in T.O.

  17. cannon_fodder on February 10, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    My wife has told me she does not want flowers. She hates the fact that they are so overpriced and, like Kathryn, she prefers a plant that will last (well, at least until she gets her hands on it – she practices euthanasia on plants even if they don’t want to die).

    I like the idea for single women – I can’t really see that concept working for single men. Not unless those single men were invited to the get together for the single women.

    For those with their loved ones far away if your loved one has a computer and access to the internet, you can communicate over the internet for practically nothing.

    And, I’ve noticed that being away from the one you love does wonders for your appreciation of them when they return. It helps provide a little spark – if you can, meet them at the airport even if they aren’t expecting it. I know that brings a HUGE smile to my face (and, thank goodness, it brings a smile to my wife’s face, too).

    Snuggling in bed, with a bowl of popcorn and a good movie is a nice way to spend Valentine’s Day evening – especially when outside is so cold.

    Heating up some massage oil and giving your loved on a nice backrub (don’t forget your wife’s feet – that seems to be a popular one for women) will always go down well.

  18. used tires on February 10, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Another good way for couples to spend valentine’s day is to have a romantic picnic at the foot of some scenic hill, if you live in such an area of course. I’m single so I have no plans. :-(

    Till then,


  19. ParisGirl111 on February 10, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    I am single, but still like the chocolate. So, I actually plan to make my mom’s famous maple creams recipe and wrap them up to give to friends. They are like chocolate truffles, only much cheaper. :) Yum! Can’t wait to test them out.

  20. AnnieA on February 10, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    A perfect combination of romance and thriftiness is a big box of chocolates — on February 15. Both people have to first agree what a spendid idea it is ahead of time, though…

  21. Squawkfox on February 11, 2010 at 1:32 am

    vino + chocolate + movie + more vino = fun

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