Lover’s guide to a memorable (and cheap!) Valentine’s Day date

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Whether you’ve been married for 30 years or dating for 30 days, you probably want to plan something special with that special someone.

If you’re on a tight budget, planning a great Valentine’s Day date can seem impossible. But the key to a memory-worthy date isn’t dropping $150 on dinner and $100 on roses. The key is understanding yourself and your significant other, and then leveraging that understanding to plan a memorable — and affordable — date. Here’s how:

1. Start with understanding.

The key to a great relationship — not just a great one-time date for a special night — is understanding each other. One way to start is by using the famed 5 Love Languages. (Though there are lots of other great paradigms for understanding and connecting with others.)

Basically, the idea is that, as humans, we give and receive love in different ways. You might feel most loved by a warm hug or a compliment. Your significant other might feel most loved when you spend time having a long conversation.

Most people can receive love in multiple ways. But for many, one primary “love language” speaks loudest.

So think about the times when your significant other has responded most warmly to you. Was it after a long back rub? When you complimented her appearance or told him why he’s important to you? Or maybe his face lights up when you bring him thoughtful little gifts. These are all clues that can help you understand your special person.

Why is this relevant for your upcoming date? Because if you can plan a date where you both end up feeling loved and happy, you’ll be successful — even if you only spend $5!

2. Gather ideas.

OK, you’re thinking about speaking your significant other’s love language, but set that aside for a moment. Now, just spend a few minutes thinking about a list of potential, budget-friendly date ideas. Here are 30 ideas to get you started:

1. Cook a meal together — try something new.

2. Rent a movie, pop popcorn and snuggle up on the couch.

3. Go ice skating or rollerblading.

4. Tackle a neglected chore around the house together.

5. Teach him/her your favorite hobby (and vice versa).

6. Go to a high-end restaurant for dessert only.

7. Stargaze.

8. Try a new sport.

9. Hit a tourist spot or two in your city.

10. Go thrift shopping together.

11. Create a scavenger hunt.

12. If you’re close to your hometown, show off your childhood haunts (and vice versa).

13. Go to a local sporting event.

14. Volunteer together.

15. Have a game night at home.

16. Create an at-home spa night experience.

17. Go to the local park.

18. Go on a nature walk, weather permitting.

19. Go dancing.

20. Drive around a ritzy neighborhood and plan your future dream home.

21. Make a bucket list together and do something listed on it that night.

22. Go out for coffee.

23. Read a book aloud together.

24. Do a craft together.

25. Tell each other your favorite memories.

26. Visit a local museum.

27. Go to happy hour.

28. See a free concert.

29. Make breakfast for each other.

30. Trade back rubs.

Obviously, some of these options can be combined for a truly epic Valentine’s Day date night — or even an entire day.

3. Figure out what fits.

Now, put step 1 and step 2 together for a memorable date. Given what you know about your significant other’s love language, pick a date option — or a few options — that will “speak” to him or her.

For instance, if your special someone loves quality time, especially time spent in conversation, pick a date that allows for that — like a coffee shop or dessert date — rather than something like a movie that cuts off opportunities to talk. You could even go one step further by planning specific questions to ask or things to talk about on this date.

Some love languages can be worked into just about any of these dates. If your gal loves to receive compliments and praise, write out things you appreciate about her, and give them to her throughout your date. Your guy loves to receive presents? Pick up a few small gifts to sprinkle throughout the date, and watch his face light up.

This may seem pretty basic, but the bottom line is that you don’t have to spend loads of money on a conventional dinner date for Valentine’s Day. If you really want a date night to remember, what you need is thoughtfulness. Start by understanding what makes your significant other feel cherished, and then work that into your affordable — but romantic — date night.

More from U.S. News

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13 Money Tips for Married Couples

How to Talk About Money With Your Honey

The Lover’s Guide to a Memorable (and Cheap!) Valentine’s Day Date originally appeared on usnews.com

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