Budgeting, but with love


Graphic by Jade Williams

Valentine’s Day is approaching once more, and while some of us may have elaborately planned ahead, the rest of us coupled-up college folks might be scrambling for ideas. 

As college students who spend a sizable chunk of our money on textbooks and ordering food, it can be hard to make Valentine’s Day plans that both show your better half that you truly care and won’t break the bank. Here are a few ideas of how to make your Valentine’s Day meaningful without emptying your bank account. 

1. Have a picnic. Hit up the grocery store and buy some picnic-friendly foods. Sandwiches, fruit and maybe a nice little dessert would be ideal. You can get some lemonade and pour it into fancy glasses to toast with your beloved. Everyone loves a cute picnic, right?

2.Write a heartfelt letter to incorporate into your one-on-one time. If the right words don’t come easy verbally, you can take the time to sit down alone and pour your heart out in a letter for your sweetheart. You can get cheesy, maybe draw hearts or use some stickers. In my own personal opinion, people love deep and heartfelt gestures like that—and you, of course, want to tell your love how much they mean to you. 

3.Cook their favorite meal at home together. Maybe your valentine loves spaghetti. Head out to the supermarket and buy some spaghetti noodles, a jar of Ragu and maybe some frozen garlic bread. Take on the task of assembling a nice dinner together. Light some candles and enjoy your meal. 

4.Get some snacks and have an intimate movie night. Grab some popcorn, peanut butter cups and some fuzzy blankets. Hey, maybe even wear your comfy pajamas (only if that’s cool with your partner, you don’t want them to think this is too low-effort). Pick out some movies you like and enjoy your favorite snacks together!

5.Get creative in the kitchen. Decorate a cake, bake cookies or make your own chocolate-covered strawberries—because those things can be expensive. My fondest Valentine’s Day memory was making chocolate covered strawberries in the kitchen with my significant other, being silly together. It was the quality alone time I wanted it to be and we both enjoyed it—and don’t forget about frosting or chocolate fights!

What you choose to do this Valentine’s Day does not have to be crazy expensive. After all, you cannot buy love. Fancy dinners and expensive floral arrangements can only go so far if there is no genuine love, connection or intimacy to be shared, and these are things that money can’t buy.

As long as your heart is in the right place, the right person will see any effort you make. So be it enjoyed at a nice restaurant or on the couch at home, have a lovely Valentine’s Day spending quality time with your sweetheart.

And remember—we’re not cheap; we’re on a budget.