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Love on a dime: Treat your sweetheart without breaking the bank!

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Shannon Wilburn, Clark.com

his Valentine’s Day, don’t go broke trying to show your significant other how much you love them. Keep it simple. Keep it sweet and meaningful. After all, at the heart of it (yes we said it), this is really a day to let them know you respect, value and treasure them. Here are some ways to do that on a budget.

How to show someone you care without going into debt to do it!

Get creative

Remember when you first met and you cherished just spending time together? Consider planning a day or an evening together to do just that. Chart your course for a walk along a beautiful lake and pack some tasty beverages and cheese. Or go on a hike together and bring a picnic of your special someone’s favorite gourmet delights, such as dark chocolate or chocolate dipped strawberries, or search out art shows in nearby towns and plan to spend the day strolling through art shops and antique stores hand-in-hand. Need a little more help with ideas? The website Wikihow offers simple steps and photos of the best, romantic picnics.

Or maybe you could express your love in your own creative way. Are you a singer? Write a song. It can be funny or touching— you can mention the best times you’ve had together. Are you a photographer or videographer? Describe your love with pictures or videos. Maybe you’re a writer. Write a love note. It doesn’t have to be long; just something sincere. You might even want to create a map that leads to your note, making a fun treasure hunt that eventually leads to your note.

Consider making vouchers for free services from you, such as doing chores, washing their car or giving a foot or back massage. These are usually much appreciated and help keep the romance going long after the holiday.

Stay in and cozy up!

Spend an evening inside and color pictures for each other. You can find lots of free coloring pictures for adults online that will allow you both to get really creative. Read poetry or memorize some lines and then deliver them to each other. You can find some great romantic poems at the Poetry Foundation.

Cook your Valentine his or her favorite meal on a table set with your best dishes and candles. Or try out a new recipe and cook together. You can feel the love with more than 100 decadent Valentine’s Day appetizers, main courses and desserts online at Delish.com.

Dust off your board games, like backgammon, checkers or chess. Don’t remember or know how to play? Watch videos online first as a refresher so you can teach your Valentine something new.

Beyond chocolate

Learn something together. Take a cooking class or dancing lessons. There are plenty of beginner swing dance lessons, country dance lessons and more around you. You can find good deals on those with coupon websites such as RetailMeNot and Groupon, or go a little crazy and try something like indoor skydiving together! Consider booking a hot yoga class or take in a local play, where tickets are more affordable. The point is to try something new and spend time together.

The gift

If you still want to buy them something, get a good deal on it by comparison price shopping. Search eBay and Amazon for the best prices. And here’s a great secret: You can find some trendy, vintage and just darn cute women’s clothing, jewelry, purses and shoes at second-hand stores like Thredup and Poshmark, or check out Goodwill, Salvation Army or ARC Thrift Stores. You can help a good cause while saving money!

Shannon Wilburn is the CEO & Co-founder of Just Between Friends Franchise Systems, Inc. (JBF), North America’s leading children’s & maternity consignment event. JBF has more than 150 franchises in 30 states and Canada.

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