Funding your future: Valentine’s Day on a budget

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Rachel Langlois from Cyprus Credit Union shares her tips on how to have a romantic Valentine's Day without spending a fortune.

7 Thoughtful Valentine's Day Gift Ideas for $20 or Less
  1. Repeat your first date. If you're like many couples, your first date was a simple affair. Maybe it was a movie where you sneaked some Raisinets into the theater in your purse. Maybe you went to a shopping mall and ate a slice of pizza in the food court. If your first date was low-cost and simple, recreate it to the best of your ability. It'll be very inexpensive and incredibly sweet and romantic.
  2. Make homemade chocolate-covered strawberries. This recipe is actually really easy. Just buy a few strawberries and a bag of milk chocolate or dark chocolate chips at the store. Fill a large pot with some water, then sit a small pot inside the large one so that the water doesn't run inside. Bring the water to a boil, then put a few drops of oil into the inner pan and add the chocolate chips. Allow the chocolate chips to melt, then remove the smaller pan from the heat, quickly dip the strawberries into the melted chocolate and immediately set them on wax paper. Put the strawberries into the fridge right away, and let the chocolate harden for several hours. It's easy, makes for a great, sweet treat and looks like you went to a lot of extra effort.
  3. Make a stack of romantic notes. Buy a pack of blank note cards with envelopes, then on each envelope, write messages like these: "Open me when you're having a rough day at work" or "Open me when you feel a bit lonely" or "Open me when you miss me." Then write a love note along that theme and stick it in that envelope. Tie the whole bundle together with a bit of ribbon. This is pure romance, and it just takes an hour and a few stationery cards to prepare.
  4. Be super creative with chocolate kisses or candy hearts. Buy a bag of whichever one your partner would prefer, then put them in lots of places where they'll be discovered by your partner. Put one in their coffee cup, one on their bedside stand, a couple in the console of their car and so on. It's amazing how effective these tiny treats are at being a simple little sweet reminder of your partner's love.
  5. Buy a high-quality version of their favorite inexpensive treat. If your partner loves ice cream, get a pint of really good high-end ice cream at the store. If your partner loves chocolate, get just a bar or two of very high-end chocolate. If your partner loves wine, go to a liquor store and ask for the best bottle they have under $20. You don't have to spend a lot to get something really good, and this is a gift that goes a lot further than you might think because it's thoughtful.
  6. While your partner is out of the house, take care of some of their least favorite chores. Wash the dishes. Make the bed. Do a load of laundry. Fold some laundry. Make a meal and store it in the freezer. The key here is to think about what your partner does regularly that they don't particularly like and then make that chore disappear. Few things put a bigger smile on your honey's face than to find an undesired task already completed.
  7. No matter what you decide to do, accompany that gift with a handwritten note. Even if you're not a wordsmith, a few words written in your own handwriting with a genuine feeling of love behind them will mean an incredible amount. Something as simple as "I don't have the perfect words to express how much you mean to me. I just know I love you with all of my heart," followed by your signature will be more than enough to warm anyone's heart.