Have a Cheap Date Without Being a Cheapskate!

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Saving money can be sexy!

If you don’t want to break the bank this February 14th, Jodi Furman – smart shopper extraordinaire and the lady behind fabuLESS – has seven great ways to say “I love you” on a budget this Valentine’s Day:

1. Simple and elegant

Romance doesn’t require an overpriced French restaurant or a huge, expensive bouquet.  Less than $30 can buy flowers (or a flowering plant that will last!), an inexpensive bottle of wine, a baguette and a hunk of good cheese, all that you need for a romantic picnic. If you need assistance picking out a great (but reasonably priced!)bottle of wine, visit a local store that specializes in wines and spirits rather than a local grocery store.  Any inexpensive bottle of wine, even Trader Joe’s two-buck-chuck (Charles Shaw) will make an excellent base for sangria. Just add lots of fresh fruit, such as apples, strawberries and citrus fruit, some sugar and some ginger ale for an inexpensive and tasty treat.

2. Have a romantic night in

If it’s too cold to picnic outside, light the fireplace, lay out a blanket, put on some music and have an indoor picnic instead! Don’t have a sitter? Put the kids to bed early and either pick-up dinner or order in. Light candles, turn off the TV and have a quiet dinner. Even if it’s frozen lasagna, it will taste better by candlelight.  Rent a movie for free from your local library or spend $1 to get onefrom your local Redbox or Blockbuster Express.  Don’t want to leave the house? Download a movie from Amazon.com or even watch one for free on Hulu.com or on TV.

3. Go local

Take advantage of your local environment. If you’re on the coast, grab a picnic and head to the beach for a stroll.  If you’re in the mountains, grab your skis or snowboard.  Explore all that your local area has to offer: museums, walking trails, picnic areas, amusement parks, strawberry picking and more.  Even if you’re in a high priced locale, many local attractions offer discounts to local residents.

4. At-Home Spa

If you and your loved one enjoy relaxing at the spa but don’t want to spend more than $50, create your own spa experience at home by filling a basket with inexpensive candles, scrubs, rose petals, and masks. Heat up some towels in the dryer for the finishing touch, and then top it all off with champagne and you’ll never go to a pricey spa again!

5. Let’s do lunch

If you want the restaurant experience, but don’t want to pay restaurant prices go to lunch instead. Many high-end restaurants have very affordable lunch specials and the ambiance and service are comparable to what you’ll find in the evening.  As an added bonus, you might not need a sitter during the day since your children might be in school or you might be able to find a sitter more easily and for less during daylight hours than you would during prime date time.

6. Score a discount

Sites such as Groupon.com and LivingSocial.com offer deep discounts on local attractions, spas, salons and restaurants, usually 50% off or deeper.  Restaurant.com offers $25 gift certificates for $10 and you can often find a code bringing the cost down to as low as $2. Most restaurants do have some restrictions (either minimumspending requirements, black out dates or exclusions), but as long as you can live within the restrictions, you’re well on your way to a low cost dinner.

7. Babysitter Swap

If you can’t afford to pay ransom rates for a sitter and don’t have family either close or willing to watch your kids, consider a babysitting swap with some like-minded friends.  It can be as simple as you watch my kids this Saturday night and I’ll watch yours next Saturday night, giving each family a much needed and well-deserved break from parental duties.

Regardless of your budget, you can have a ton of fun without spending a ton.  With just a little bit of ingenuity and a smidgen of planning, you can have a hot date with your sweetie without souring your budget.

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