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How to celebrate Valentine's Day on a budget

  • Average American plans to spend $226 on Valentine's Day
  • There are tons of deals and discounts available that make celebrating less stressful
There are some ways to celebrate Valentine's Day without blowing your budget.

Valentine's Day: It’s definitely one of the trickiest holidays when it comes to relationship rules and keeping the ladies happy in particular. Regardless of what your significant other says, there's always a looming pressure to buy gifts and spend money that a lot of people just don’t have right now. And according to a recent survey, men and women just can’t seem to get on the same page when it comes to Valentine’s Day spending.

The average person in a relationship in the United States plans to spend about $226 on Valentine’s Day this year, according to a new survey by RetailMeNot, a popular coupon site. And when the numbers are broken down, it’s the men who are shelling out the big bucks, about $287, which is a lot more than the $164 that American women will spend, according to the survey.

“Men on average will spend $123 more than women when celebrating the holiday with their partners,” said Trae Bodge, senior editor for RetailMeNot’s blog, in a statement. “Women still know that the quickest way to their man’s heart is through his stomach with a special holiday meal or something as exciting as concert tickets.  And for those gentlemen planning to get their lucky lady jewelry, it will be appreciated.”

The explanation behind the discrepancy in spending isn’t quite clear, since the survey’s results show that both men and women admit to wanting some pricey gifts. About 28% of men say they're hoping for a big V-Day meal, while 19% would love to unwrap tickets to an event such as a concert. And of course, 24% of women want jewelry.

So what should you not give your partner this Valentine’s Day? The experts over at RetailMeNot are telling men not give women exercise equipment or a gym membership! About 25% of women say that would be the most disappointing gift possible. (If you’re determined, maybe just choose a different holiday). And ladies, survey says: Guys do not want flowers. So before you spend the money, see what else you can find, or at least use a coupon and don't pay full price.

A few more things you might want to know when it comes to the big day:

  • 35% of people would buy their significant other a luxury vacation, if they could afford it
  • 24% of men would buy their partners expensive or high-end jewelry, if they could afford it (At least the thought is there…)
  • 28% of men want a meal; Only 13% of women said the same
  • 19% of men want tickets to something; Only 7% of expressed the same
  • 24% of women would love some jewelry; 15% of men actually said the same

RetailMeNot’s survey found that many people would love to go above and beyond for their special someone this Valentine’s Day, but unfortunately, the finances just won’t cut it.

But there are tons of ways to express your love without breaking the bank. Many restaurants, retailers and online shops are offering some pretty sweet deals this V-Day, so we rounded a few to help you get started!

Sweet deals

  • Krispy Kreme: Now through February 14, when you buy a dozen donuts, you get 12 free Valentine’s Day gift cards. Each card is good for a free donut, including two limited-time heart-shaped iced donuts with sprinkles.
  • Baskin Robbins: The ice cream shop’s flavor of the month has chocolate ice cream and chocolate-flavored hearts with raspberry filling. It comes pretty much any way you want it, the only bummer is it isn’t any cheaper than usual.
  • Dunkin Donuts: Throughout the entire month of February, DD is offering Cupid’s Choice Donut: a heart-shaped donut filled with Bavarian Kreme and topped with strawberry flavored icing and heart-shaped sprinkles. Unfortunately, no deal involved with this deliciousness – but if all you need is one sweet treat, it’s a good one.
  • Dairy Queen: The ultimate Valentine’s Day blizzard is back. DQ is offering the Choco Covered Strawberry blizzard and various heart-shaped ice cream cakes.
  • Cold Stone Creamery: The expert ice cream maker is offering Valentine-themed gift cards. If you and the sweetie are too full from the romantic dinner, a gift card for dessert is a great way to keep the celebration going.
  • Pretzelmaker – Get a heart-shaped pretzel with every pretzel purchased. The catch is you have to like the company on Facebook.


  • If you’re looking for a deal on flowers, for any occasion, check out this flower shop’s coupon page. For Valentine’s Day specials, ProFlowers is offering 20% off orders of at least $39. If you want something a little cheaper, you can still get 15% off lower-priced options, and there’s even a 50% off deal. The only tricky part is these discounts don’t cover shipping, so make sure you factor that in, and maybe look for an extra coupon code online.
  • This flower shop has a $6.95 flat rate for shipping on Valentine’s Day. You also get an extra 15% off with the coupon code CUPID12.

Dining Deals

  • Waffle House: The Ultimate Valentine’s Day Experience: “Scattered, Smothered, and covered” is once again a romantic phrase for Valentine’s Day fine dining. For daters looking for a more affordable dinner option, Waffle House is offering reservations for a romantic candle-lit atmosphere. Make sure to check for participating locations.
  • White Castle: The fast-food joint is also once again offering a fine dining option with table service and candlelight dinner. You can even send your significant other a “White Castle Valentine’s Day SliderGram” on Facebook.
  • Qdoba Mexican Grill: Here’s a unique Valentine’s Day deal. The Mexican restaurant is offering a free meal to people who share a kiss with a significant other, friend, family member, or “even an understanding stranger at the cash register.” Give a kiss and get a second entrée of equal or lesser value for free.

More Valentine’s Day deals

  • Groupon: The popular coupon site has tons of Valentine’s-themed deals and discounts. There’s a wide range of deals including bottles of wine, massages, hotel deals and gift baskets. Scroll to the bottom of the main Valentine’s Day page, and the site has deals categorized by gifts for men, gifts for women, popular gifts and gift cards.
  • Facebook gifts: Choose from hundreds of gifts in categories like Wine, Food, Style, and Gift Cards & Digital. All you have to do is select the gift you want to give, attach a card, and send!
  • Living Social: The deal site also has tons of Valentine’s-themed coupons that you can either give as a gift, or share with your significant other. Just enter your city and see what deals are available in your area.
  • Savvysugar: Check out the site’s ideas for cheap ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
  • Fat Wallet: The site has tons of last-minute gift ideas and coupon codes for extra savings on things like flowers, candy and even jewelry. Check out the full list of Valentine’s Deals.
  • RetailMeNot: The coupon site has a wide variety of Valentine’s Day deals and you can browse them by category!

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