It’s no secret that rising costs impact how and where we spend our money. A burgeoning savings account or hefty emergency fund doesn’t appear instantaneously; they are the result of regular savings of smaller amounts of money. But where do you find money to save in an environment of soaring prices? Holidays can be a particularly pressure-fueled time financially, with expectations over gift giving causing unnecessary expenses. However, thoughtful gifts and appreciating loved ones doesn’t need to mean expensive purchases.

If your budget is a bit tighter this year, we’ve got you covered with plenty of ideas for free or low-cost Valentine’s Day gifts and plans that won’t sacrifice quality or meaning. 

1. Cards

Romantic cards are a staple of Valentine’s Day, but store-bought cards range between $5 to $15. Cards are often the most precious when they express a sincere sentiment. If you’re more of a hands-on crafter, you could repurpose scrap paper, magazines or newspapers, dried flowers or leaves. Raid your supplies for highlighters, markers and bright pens for drawing. Print out a stencil online for added effect. YouTube provides an excellent catalogue of homemade card tutorials to flex your creative skills.

If hands-on crafts aren’t your thing, go the digital route. Canva is a free design site that lets you pick and edit templates or put together a card from scratch. Include personalized photos of special memories in your customized card. Don’t have a printer? Check out your local library for inexpensive printing options. Printing is 20 to 50 cents per page at the Yorkville Public Library and 20 cents to $1 at the Oswego Public Library.

2. Gifts and Experiences

Repurposing sentimental items into handmade gifts is a thoughtful way to celebrate a loved one. Taking the time to create something is a special way of demonstrating sincerity. If you keep things like movie tickets from earlier dates, postcards, photos or similar items of meaning, put them in a scrapbook or similar creative venture, like a fridge magnet collage.

Another great way to enjoy the holiday is to focus on shared experiences, rather than expensive gifts. What hobbies or activities does your partner like? Here are some suggestions:

  • Movie marathon
  • Hike
  • Cooking a new meal or dessert together
  • Star gazing
  • Open mic night at a local business

3. Decorations

Light-up hearts, festive accent pillows and decorative signs may be romantic, but their convenience comes at a cost. Instead, consider your own inventory of supplies to decide if there is anything to repurpose into decorations. Red paper or an old red shirt can be cut into hearts and strung up. Dig through your recycling for cardboard, like a cereal box, to cut out shapes or letters that can be covered in wrapping paper or glitter. And if you’re low on supplies, don’t worry. Rather than perusing the aisles of superstores packed with pricier pieces, check out your local thrift store.

Take some of the financial pressure off yourself this Valentine’s Day. Homemade customized gifts and personalized experiences are a thoughtful way to show a loved one that you care about them.