I’m a fan of romance and know that spending time together is very important for couple unity but we may be taking it a little too far on Valentine's Day. A new report by Pew Research showed that Americans spent $1.7 billion on flowers, $3.4 billion on dining out and $3.5 billion jewelry on average every time February 14th rolls around. Whatever happened to “can’t buy me love”?

What if you want to celebrate this Valentine's Day without emptying out your wallet? We have some great ideas on how to show your sweetie how you feel without spending an arm and a leg.

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  1. Cook together. Pick a recipe that you’ve loved in a favorite restaurant and recreate it. The key here is doing it together so that you share in the special moment, whether the meal turns out perfect or is a perfect mess.
  2. Get outdoors. Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year, why not spend the weekend before in the romantic outdoors? Have a picnic in a local park or grab your blanket to cuddle up under the stars at night.
  3. Re-watch a date movie. Going to the movies is cheaper than dinner but renting your favorite is even better. Try going for the movie that made you laugh on your first date or the one that makes you snuggle closer.
  4. Write a love letter. Nothing is sweeter than an old fashioned love note. Whether you make your own card ahead of time or do it together, telling each other how you feel is sappy—in the best way.
  5. Exchange massages. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a couples spa day, why not recreate your own? Buy some massage oil and spend an hour massaging each other anywhere and everywhere.
  6. Take a bubble bath.  An oldie but a goodie: indulge in a nice, relaxing soak with your honey. Do all of the classics: light candles, sprinkle some bath salt and turn on the bubbles for a luxurious night in.
  7. Find a free concert. Coffee houses and other venues have free (or cheap) concerts going on all the time. Explore this option and maybe even find a new band you love by heading out for a cheap night out together.
  8. Get a deal. Sites like LivingSocial and Groupon have cheap getaway, dinner and activity deals all of the time. Save money when you buy a deal ahead of time and have a fun time together later on in the month.
  9. Fun at the museum. Many museums around the country have free nights throughout the month. Indulge in a little culture when you see what the local museum is up to during the free late-night hours.  
  10. Go for a hike. Head to the nearest national park for a nice, relaxing day with your special someone. Check out Trails.com to find a trail in your area, plus get guides on how to dress and what to bring.
  11. Learn something new. Learning something new bonds a couple closer together, so why not finally try that thing you’ve wanted to try? Take a class together or even rent an instructional video for some fun.
  12. Tackle a project. Who says that V-Day has to be celebrated with a romantic rendezvous? Spending an entire day inside and working on something together, like painting the bedroom or sorting through photos, can be tons of fun.
  13. Watch a play at nearby college. University theater departments often have shows that are super cheap to the public. And who knows? You may see the next star before they become famous.
  14. Work out side-by-side. Get a sexy sweat going by heading to your gym together. Do a couples round of yoga to get more limber, try speed cycling or even have some fun with a Zumba class with your sweetie.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans this year?

Image via Beach650/flickr