Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and according to the National Retail Federation, the most romantic day of the year is also one of the most expensive! Last year, Valentine’s Day was the third-biggest spending holiday of the year, and Americans are expected to spend an average of $196.31 in 2020. Yikes.

Love may not cost a thing, but restaurant meals, flowers, gifts, and other popular romantic gestures can clearly add up. Here are five ways to show you care without putting your budget in the red:

Plan an indoor picnic

Valentine’s Day is also the second busiest night of the year for restaurants, according to the National Restaurant Association. Avoid the crowds by planning an intimate night in with dinner and a movie or board game. Make it extra special by skipping the kitchen table and spreading a blanket on the floor for an indoor picnic! Play Cupid in the kitchen and whip up a romantic meal, or keep things simple with a cheese and charcuterie board, along with some love-themed cocktails and sweet Valentine’s Day treats. Amp up the romance by making a custom playlist to set the mood. 

Not a chef? Get delivery from DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, or Seamless and earn cash back when you start your order with the Ibotta app. Just make sure to plate your meal after it arrives — there’s nothing romantic about eating out of a plastic box. 

Save more: Before you go to the grocery store, check the Ibotta app and add offers from your shopping list to earn cash back on V-Day dinner ingredients. You can also save on the perfect bottle of red or cocktail essentials — find offers in the “Beer, wine & spirits” section of the Ibotta app.

Go old school with a classic date night

There’s something to be said for that old standby date night: dinner and a movie. After all, it’s a classic for a reason! We know, we know — movie tickets and meals out aren’t exactly cheap. But with a little pre-planning, you can catch the newest rom-com and a lovely dinner without breaking the bank. If you have a flexible schedule (Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year), the easiest way to spend a little less is by moving your evening up a few hours. You’ll save money with matinee movie tickets and hitting up happy hour for discounted drinks and eats.

Even if you can’t go early, there are still ways to dine out for less, like taking advantage of restaurants’ Valentine’s Day specials or dining at Pay with Ibotta restaurant partners. To save on movie tickets, buy them in advance on Fandango or use Pay with Ibotta at AMC Theatres or Regal Cinemas. Either way, you’ll get instant cash back on your entire ticket purchase!

Exceed expectations with adventurous gifts

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to mean chocolates, flowers, and jewelry. Instead, wow your special someone with the gift of experiences, like a couple’s massage or facial, a cooking class, concert tickets, or a weekend away. Earn cash back on activities when you buy through the Ibotta mobile app from companies like Groupon, Choice Hotels, Topgolf, Ticketmaster, Vrbo, Expedia, HomeAway, Hotels.com, SeatGeek, Vivid Seats, and more. 

From homemade cards to crafting a custom bookcase for the bookwork in your life, the best unique gifts are handmade with love. Shop for supplies at JOANN, Home Depot, and Lowe’s — you can use Ibotta to earn cash back at all three, both online and in-store.

Save on gifts — even when you splurge

If you want to go the more traditional route, there are still plenty of ways to save, whether you want to surprise them with a romantic bouquet of red roses or a sparkly piece of jewelry (swoon!). Plenty of companies run sales around Valentine’s Day, so plan your purchases accordingly, then earn extra cash back by shopping through the Ibotta app online or using Ibotta offers or Pay with Ibotta in-store. Stumped on what to get? Here are some of our top gift picks: 

  • Bouquet or potted plant from 1-800-Flowers.com
  • Journal or book of poetry from Barnes & Noble or Amazon
  • Watch from Fossil or MVMT
  • Chocolates from Harry & David
  • Lotions and potions from L’Occitane, Ulta.com, The Body Shop, and Sephora
  • Luxury leather goods from Coach
  • Jewelry from Zales, Kay Jewelers, Overstock, or QVC
  • Lingerie from Soma
  • Winc Wine Club subscription

Share the love

Who said Valentine’s Day is just for couples? Many of the ideas above work just as well for celebrating (and saving) with friends and loved ones. Enjoy a family-friendly film with the kiddos at your local cinema, swing by Starbucks and pick up coffee for a co-worker, plan a Galentine’s Day bash with friends at your favorite bar or restaurant, or gift your furry pal a new toy or treat from Petco, PetSmart, or BarkBox. However you decide to share the love this Valentine’s Day, make sure you get a little something (cash back) for yourself when you start with Ibotta!

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