Brace yourself for cheesy cartoon hearts and a strictly pink and red candy aisle in your local convenience store. That’s right, Valentine’s Day is here again. With limited time to plan, you may be asking yourself what you should do—especially on a student’s budget, where anything more than a few servings of ramen could cause a financial strain.
This year, you can save your ramen money. Whether you’re spending Valentine’s Day with friends or a significant other, here are five ways to celebrate that won’t leave your bank account heartbroken.
1. See if your university offers any movie ticket deals.
Yes, this might be the most stereotypical date idea, especially for Valentine’s Day, but it’s tried and true for a reason. Movie tickets nowadays can cost an arm and a leg (seriously, who wants to drop $40 just to see a movie?) so it’s worth it to check and see if your school offers any movie ticket deals.
At Syracuse University, students can purchase $9.50 tickets at the box office in the student center and use them for any movie at the local theater. This is great if you want to get off campus for the night, and it still leaves a little wiggle room in your budget for snacks (because what’s a movie without the popcorn?).
Who doesn’t like a good movie?
2. Find out what’s going on around campus.
Chances are, there’s at least one student organization hosting an event on Valentine’s Day, so use it as an excuse to check out what different clubs are doing. Events can range from dances to Valentine’s themed crafts or cooking demonstrations. Go with an SO or bring some friends along to celebrate! If you’re feeling really adventurous (and you’re single) see if any organizations are hosting speed dating events—even if you don’t hit it off with anyone, it’s bound to be an interesting experience!
Hopefully your Valentine’s Day dance is less awkward than this…
3. Check if any off-campus restaurants are having special deals.
Even if you consider Valentine’s Day one of the top 10 worst days to go out to eat, a great deal could change your mind. Do some research to see if any of your favorite spots are offering deals, like a lunch or appetizer special that can let you feel fancy for less than an average meal. Make sure to read all the fine print before actually taking advantage of any deals, though—just to make sure what you’re signing up for is actually budget friendly.
Yay good food!
4. …or use it as an excuse to cook something yourself!
It’s no secret that dining hall food can get old, fast. So use Valentine’s Day as the perfect excuse to cook something yourself! This does require a kitchen and access to ingredients, so you may want to plan before the actual day (you could always ask to use a friend’s kitchen in exchange for leftovers). There are tons of recipes online for any palate, and putting the word “simple” in front of whatever dish you look up works wonders for new chefs (especially if you’re apt to burn pasta like myself). So grab some friends or an SO and get cooking!
Find a recipe suited to your cooking skills, whatever they are!
5. Finally, take time to appreciate the people you love in your life.
Everyone loves to feel appreciated, so don’t be afraid to show your friends/family/SO a little extra love, especially on Valentine’s Day! This can be as simple as calling them to tell them you appreciate them, or even making (or buying) your own valentines! You know, like the ones you used to get in elementary school (side note: why did people stop giving these out? They should definitely be brought back.) You can also see if any group on campus is delivering Valentines to people and buy a few for friends. They’re usually cheap, and some organizations donate profits to a charity, so it’s a win-win!
How everyone will feel when you give them their valentines!
Bonus budget-friendly tip: Make sure to stock up on candy after February 14th. Stores usually have steep markdowns on holiday-related candies, so you can get all the sugar you need to make it through midterms season for a great price!
Half-price chocolate is the best chocolate.