How do you show your love without spending money you don’t have? These meaningful ways to say “I love you” to someone you care about are affordable and creative. Whether you’re looking for anniversary ideas or Valentine’s Day gifts, you’ll find the right gesture of love here.
The “What I Love about You…” Fill-in-the-Blank Gift Journal is one of the most creative gifts you could give someone you love – and it requires you to spend less than $10. In fact, if you make your own version you don’t have to spend any money at all. This gift is personal, unique, and more touching than most of the tips on this list. And you want to give your loved one something because it’s fun and surprising to open a gift! Especially if there is no occasion or good reason (which is why non-Valentine’s Day gifts and unbirthday presents are exciting). It’s possible to show your love without spending any money, but it’s best to give something that your loved one gets to participate in. That’s why this journal is a great idea.
I wrote this article for a reader called Simon, who left this comment on 10 Things to Talk About With Your Girlfriend: “Hey girl, cool blog! I know it’s mostly for women except for this one article on what to talk about with your girlfriend. I have a question about showing my love to my girlfriend. I have a hard time saying the words ‘I love you’ but I really do love my girlfriend and I want her to know how much I care. So what are some other ways I can show my love without having to talk and talk and talk and talk? Sincerely, Simon the Silent.”
One of the best ways to show love to someone you care about is to talk – and listen – to her. Really being present and attentive when your loved one is speaking is one of the most meaningful ways to say “I love you.” Listening to her, asking her questions, remembering what she tells you, asking why she feels this way or how she enjoyed that experience…those are the best ways to show your love.
While you’re reading through these tips for saying “I love you” without spending money or talking, remember that each person is unique. What I find loving and helpful isn’t what your girlfriend will find loving or helpful. It’s important to know her love languages when you’re searching for the best way to show love.
If you haven’t heard of “love languages”, read Examples of Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages. Then come back here and read through these tips for saying I love you, with your girlfriend’s love languages in mind.
How to Show Your Love Without Spending Money
“Love is everything it’s cracked up to be…It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.” ~ Erica Jong.
A wonderful way to say “I love you” is to take risks for your sweetheart. I don’t mean jumping off tall buildings or outrunning trains…I mean being vulnerable, honest, and open. Sharing your true thoughts and authentic self with someone you love is a meaningful and thoughtful way to show how much you care.
And here are more than 80 ways to say “I love you” to someone you care about and would risk everything for. Most of these ways to show your love don’t require you to spend any money at all – which makes them all the sweeter…
1. Make an effort to go out of your way to do one loving thing every day for your sweetheart – little things, such as washing her car or giving the dog a bath.
2. Show your love by never criticizing her in front of anyone – not even her family.
3. Listen when your sweetheart talks.
4. Don’t forget things your sweetheart tells you. After she shares something with you (eg, a conflict that happened at work), bring it up a few days later. Ask questions – this shows you were listening, and that you love her enough to remember what’s happening in her life.
5. Don’t compare your girlfriend to anyone – not even in your head.
6. Be polite and courteous at all times. Don’t take her for granted; show your love by saying “please”, “thank you”, and “you’re welcome” often.
7. Write and send one love letter a month – starting with a “why I love you” on Valentine’s Day.
8. Plan a play date for her, at an outdoor ice rink or park.
9. Learn your girlfriend’s love language, and show love the way she understands it.
10. Learn how to comfort her when she’s grieving or sad.
11. Learn the signs someone isn’t in love, and be careful to do the opposite.
12. Toast each other over breakfast or lunch or coffee. You don’t have to drink wine or champagne to celebrate your love!
13. Tell your sweetheart how she lights up your life.
14. Talk about your day during mealtimes. Share the highs and lows of your day.
15. Read books aloud together – especially books about love and relationships.
16. After an argument, show your love by being the first to apologize.
17. Avoid pushing buttons you know will trigger arguments. Show your love by being kind.
18. Treat your sweetheart’s family and friends as if they were your family and friends.
19. Reminisce about both your good and bad memories.
20. Fill your girlfriend’s car up with gas (a practical way to say “I love you”!).
22. Learn specific ways to make your relationship better.
23. Encourage your lover to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy.
24. Trust your girlfriend enough to let her see you cry.
25. Act silly together. Tease her in light-hearted, kind ways.
26. Be lavish in praise – compliment your sweetheart freely, and often.
27. Ask questions about her ideas, plans, opinions, feelings, thoughts. Show your love by being curious.
28. Let your girlfriend change and grow.
29. Encourage adventures and risks!
30. Forgive the little stuff.
31. Forgive the big stuff.
32. Show joy when you see her. Be happy when she walks into the room!
33. Bake cookies or try a new recipe together. Show your love by feeding her morsels of chocolate.
34. Try a new exotic recipe together – this is a great way to say “I love you.” Make sushi, or Pad Thai, or Butter Chicken, or chicken waffles.
35. Learn the signs a boyfriend is in love with a girlfriend.
36. Leave stress at work.
37. Use flannel sheets in the winter.
38. Solve problems together – such as crosswords or Sudoku.
39. Show your love by showing your gratitude. True love is a daily act of appreciation.
40. Be a good sounding board. Let her talk through problems without giving her advice.
41. Take pride in your girlfriend – and show your pride.
42. Compliment her in front of others.
43. Spend time doing things with your girlfriend (not just watching movies). Show your love by being creative and adventurous.
44. Listen all the way to the end. Let her talk and talk and talk, and say “I love you” when she is finished.
45. Ask for hugs and kisses – and give hugs and kisses freely.
46. Take adventure volunteer vacations together (not exactly a way to show your love without spending money, but o so fun!).
47. Tell her the truth gently and lovingly.
48. Call her “love” and “honey.”
49. Let go of the past.
50. Read 50 Creative (and Budget-friendly) Ways to Say I Love You.
51. Let go of jealousy, anger, and resentment.
52. Accept your girlfriend’s weaknesses and flaws.
53. Hunt for treasure together – this is a creative way to say “I love you” on Valentine’s Day!
54. Be interested in your sweetheart’s interests.
55. Ditch work or responsibilities to play with your lover.
56. Be yourself. Be real.
57. Show your love by making an effort to be more loving to her friends and family.
58. Share chocolates, ice cream sundaes, milkshakes, decadent desserts.
59. Ignore real or perceived slights.
60. Pray or meditate together – learn about the power of prayer as a couple.
61. Practice forgiveness.
62. Watch classic movies together.
63. Start planning her birthday party or anniversary celebration early. Read 40th Birthday Gift Ideas That Will Surprise and Delight Her.
64. Show your love with a “for no reason at all” gift.
65. Get OUR MOMENTS for Couples: 100 Thought Provoking Conversation Starters for Great Relationships – and learn about each other on a deeper level! This activity will get you out of your comfort zone and remind you why you are together.
66. Give her benefit of the doubt.
67. Learn what your sweetheart needs — and give it to him or her.
68. Give her space when your sweetheart is in a bad or sad mood.
69. Learn something new together.
70. Take salsa or ballroom dance lessons together – this is a great way to say “I love you” on Valentine’s Day :-)
71. Keep your promises. Show your love by being dependable.
72. Make your sweetheart laugh.
73. Don’t gossip about her or judge her.
74. Learn ways to rekindle the romance if your love life is flat like a pancake.
75. Take a marriage or couples retreat weekend together.
76. Hide a surprise in your sweetheart’s lunch – a gourmet chocolate treat is a great way to show your love any day of the year.
77. Pay attention to her moods.
78. Make home a fun place to be.
79. Learn how to increase emotional intimacy and connection in your relationship.
80. Tell your girlfriend why you love her. What are her strengths, skills, adorable traits?
3 Final Tips for Showing Your Love
These additional ideas for saying “I love you” might be just what the love doctor ordered…
Explore vintage shops for unique, creative jewelry
This idea is from the original version of 10 Unique Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas: Jewelry is a traditional Valentine’s Day gift, but new jewelry can be expensive and less meaningful. Vintage jewelry, on the other hand, can be a thoughtful way to show your love without spending money. The charm of the old often fills those pieces with extra romance and nostalgia. Spend some time thinking about your loved one’s tastes in jewelry and accessories. You might peak through her jewelry box and closet for ideas.
Visit the nearest resale or antique shop and find something that speaks to you. Vintage jewelry will last for several years and can be the focal point of any outfit. You can also find vintage jewelry online on sites like Etsy or explore online antique stores like Ruby Lane for a unique gift. Be sure to ask the seller where it came from, and get as many details you can. You never know what story a vintage piece will tell. This makes it more precious and meaningful.
Spend a little money on a personal journal
After reading all my ways to say I love you without spending money, you may now agree that the “What I Love about You…” Fill-in-the-Blank Gift Journal is one of the most creative gifts you could give someone you love – and it requires you to spend less than $10.
This gift is personal, unique, and touching because it asks you to get personal. You want to give something that says “I love you” because it’s fun and surprising to open a gift! Especially if there is no occasion or good reason (for example, a non-Valentine’s Day gift or unbirthday present). It’s possible to show your love without spending any money, but it’s most fun to give something that your loved one gets to participate in. That’s why this journal is a great idea :-)
Decide as a couple to eliminate the stress of finding the “perfect” gift on Valentine’s Day
Here’s a great tip for saying “I love you” on February 14 from Goal Auzeen Saedi, Ph.D.: “One of the common sources of Valentine’s Day stress is related to finances,” she writes in 5 Ways to Keep Your Sanity This Valentine’s Day. “Expectations on this day can ride high. Some are expecting a proposal complete with a rock on their finger, while others want the prime reservation at the best restaurant. When the stakes are so high, it can be easy to mess up or feel guilty that an opulent gift was not appropriately reciprocated.”
Saedi encourages couples to set financial spending limits before Valentine’s Day so nobody ends up disappointed – or broke.
“Although cliché to say, sometimes it really is the little things that mean more. Being creative and coming up with a personalized gift (if you choose to even give gifts at all) can be ideal. Perhaps one partner enjoys art and there is a Groupon deal for one of those wine and painting classes. Maybe it is a pass for yoga lessons or gift card for a small spa service.”
She adds that couples who have more financially restricted budgets might show their love on February 14 by cooking dinner together, watching a romantic movie, and exchanging a favorite book with one another. Personalizing a token of your affection is a great way to say “I love you”, and a small display of love doesn’t have to break the bank.