Love & Money: How to Be Romantic on a Dime

With the economic crisis getting worse, this Valentine's Day presents a financial challenge for most. But romance can be had on a dime or a few dollars with some simple creativity.

-Dreaming of an Italian getaway, but it’s not in the budget until 2020? Why not rent a documentary featuring the villas of Italy from the Library. Order a pizza, watch TV together and then discuss which villas you would both like to visit when you finally book your dream vacation.

-Three-word love notes. I know what you’re thinking, not everyone’s a writer. But how about reinventing the delivery of just three little words: I love you! If you’re lucky enough to have a dry sidewalk and driveway this February, locate some chalk and surprise your sweetie with these powerful words displayed on your concrete for her to see as she steps out the door. Perhaps a surprise note in her pants or jacket pocket covertly placed just before she leaves for work so she’ll locate it at an unexpected time. If you have a garage with an automatic garage door and own a computer, create an I LOVE YOU poster and find some streamers, ribbon or string. Attach your poster to the bottom of the garage door from the inside. When your sweetie arrives home and pops the door up, your gift of love will slowly rise and dangle to their delight.

-Go on an indoor picnic. Spread blankets on the floor, light your room with candles and feed each other strawberries while sharing your resolutions and dreams for the coming year.

-Make gift “finding” exciting! Take your spouse on a treasure hunt for their gift. Find a generous amount of string and attach it to your gift. Run the string under the sofa, around the kitchen table and from room to room (you get the picture). This fun and simple idea makes finding the gift at the end of the string as enjoyable as receiving the gift itself and builds excitement and anticipation for the recipient.

-Bring back the “ladies and gents” for an evening. Book a date at home with your spouse, prepare or bring in a wonderful meal and treat each other as a king or queen just for the night. Toss aside reservations about political correctness or etiquette that you’re now accustomed to as a couple. Gents, think “old world” and treat her like a lady. Rise when she does, pull her seat out for her and lavish her with compliments. Ladies, serve your man like a king, be sure to kiss and praise his acts of chivalry and remind him of why you first fell in love with him. For added romance, gents, wear your best suit and ladies, wear an elegant evening gown to dinner. Make the extra effort for the most important person in your world.


-Keep a scrapbook of memories (pictures, bus/plane tickets from when you visited your significant other, pressed flowers, etc.). Once it is full you can give it to your love.

-Go on a treasure hunt and purchase a ton of marbles, all different sizes, and sit down with a fine permanent marker and write events/ideas on them. You could write the day you met, the funny sayings you have, I love you, your names, your silly nicknames, etc. Your love can look at them from time to time and it's a gift that will really mean a lot to her/him - for you to spend so much time on such small details for a gift is sure to be appreciated.

-Write a fairy tale based on your relationship. Draw pictures and make it into a book by attaching all of the pages with ribbon.

-Buy your sweetheart a teddy bear and leave it on their bed with a little note saying: "You can hug me when _____ (write your name here) isn't here." You may find that this new friend is a nightly cuddle partner for life.

-Locate a three-ring binder (a photo album could also work) and get clear plastic folders to stick in the binder. On 100 pieces of computer paper, write all the reasons why your love him or her. On each page, provide a different reason and a picture of the both of you. Decorate the front with stickers and little pictures of you. Another idea is to put on the back of the pages quotes or song lyrics that fit your relationship.

-Make 10 envelopes with different things written on the outside (like "When You Miss Me" or "When You're Sad") and put something appropriate in each one. Then give them all at once to your love and make him or her wait until they are feeling those certain ways to open them. It's pretty funny to watch them get impatient!

-Give a special gift that will always be remembered. In the box, include a velvet bag concealing a beautiful wooden hand mirror. Include with the mirror a note saying, "I wanted to give you the most beautiful thing in the world for Valentine's Day. I looked and looked, but could not find anything more beautiful than you." Talk about heart-melting romance!

Have fun and happy loving on a dime!

Kelley Keehn is a financial expert and best-selling author of six books. She is also a contributor to On The Money. You can reach her at