We all want to show that special someone how much they mean to us on Valentine’s Day, but the expense of red roses, heart-shaped boxes of candy, and meals out can severely limit your big day and cause stress and frustration. According to Fox Business, the average consumer is expected to spend $164 this year, which is actually down $32 from last year’s $196.*
And although 73% of those polled by Fox Business said it’s important to celebrate the occasion with a loved one, only 24% of consumers plan on spending the evening out, due to the pandemic and a tighter budget.*
Fortunately, there are still ways to make the day special and not break the bank.
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This may be the time to cash in on those credit card perks you’ve been building up, such as rewards or cash back on purchases. You may have points you weren’t even aware of, so check it out.
If you have kids but want the day alone with your Valentine and can’t afford the cost of a babysitter, you can think of daytime activities that involve the kids. When it’s time for romance, you might want to leave the kids with their grandparents, aunt, or call in a favor from that single friend.
Start the day with breakfast in bed. It’s a cliche, but all the same, who doesn’t like the idea of staying in bed a little longer and being waited on?
The cost of roses doubles, even triples, around Valentine’s Day, at least if you buy from a florist. Consider buying a bouquet from the grocery store’s floral section. If possible, find a bouquet with closed or tight buds. They may not look like much at the moment, but they’ll blossom within a few hours of bringing them home, and they’ll last for several days. Or, if she’s the type who doesn’t care for extravagant floral arrangements, let a single red rose speak for you. Sometimes understatement is better.
Greeting cards can also add to the cost of the holiday and they don’t need to. You can find a card that expresses the same sentiments at the Dollar Store just as easily as a card that costs $5 or so.
There are also free cards available to customize, download and print at: Valentine’s Day Freebies for Everyone (thebalanceeveryday.com)
The card can also include a booklet of homemade coupons, good for one back rub, a foot rub, a day when you do all of her chores, etc. But you have to follow through when she cashes in her credit with you. If you’re having trouble getting started, the same site offering cards has some pre-filled coupons for you, as well as allowing you to customize your own.
The site even offers printable games and coloring pages to keep the kids occupied on your special evening.
It wouldn’t seem like Valentine’s Day without a box of candy, but how about something a little different this year? M&M’s is offering personalized candy, a 10% discount, and free shipping on qualifying orders:
You can’t go wrong with candles. They’re always romantic, inexpensive, and readily available at many craft shops or department stores.
Consider making something at home. She must have a favorite meal, and a little detective work in her recipe files should uncover it. And the fact you went to so much trouble is sure to score you points, and you may be able to cash in a few of your own love coupons before the night is over.
Don’t eat at the table. Make it special. If you have a fireplace, lay out a blanket and eat in front of the flames. Or by candlelight.
If you’re thinking about champagne, a bottle of wine will do just as well. Most people can’t tell the difference between an expensive bottle of bubbly and a cheaper one, so why make the investment? It’s a nice gesture, but putting that same amount of money somewhere else will be more appreciated.
As a practical matter, keep your dessert simple and light. You don’t want to feel weighted down, so why not Jell-o, or sorbet, or even a few chocolate-dipped strawberries? You can find deals on dipped berries at:
But if absolutely must go out, don’t be afraid to take advantage of any two-for-one dinner deals. Or, instead of dinner, how about lunch? You’ll save money and avoid the Valentine’s crowd. Restaurants are offering special deals for your special meal, either for dining in or carry out:
Or, if you don’t see anything that strikes your fancy there, here a couple of more sites you might want to check out:
Even though your choice of movies in the theaters is limited right now, you can still stream new releases on Prime or other streaming services for less than the cost of a tub of movie theater popcorn.
Depending on the weather where you live, a picnic and bike ride can set a romantic tone, and still give you couple’s privacy.
If it’s safe to travel where you are, you may consider an overnight stay in a bed-and-breakfast within driving distance. Right now, during the off-season and pandemic, you can probably book a room for less than the usual cost. Don’t be afraid to ask the proprietor if they can cut you a special rate. They may need the business as much as you need to conserve your finances.
Recreate your first date. Go someplace you went then, or do the same activity.
Show your partner how much you care by staying off your cell phone all day and giving them your full attention.
Fill a box full of “I love you” notes, each with a different reason why you love your partner. Anything from the traditional reason to the more unusual. Once you get the first couple of reasons down, they’ll start to come to you.**
Put together a romantic playlist on your phone and dance together.
Of course, if your partner cares more about the celebration itself than the actual calendar day, retailers move Valentine-related items to their clearance shelves starting February 15. In fact, some stores don’t even wait and start dropping their prices the day before or even on Valentine’s Day.
Make your own special day, whether it’s the 14th or 15th or even the 16th. Take advantage of the savings and start early shopping for next year’s Valentine’s Day. This isn’t recommended for candy, however.
You can also shop together and make sure you each get that special gift you really want instead of receiving something that falls a bit short of your expectations. Chances are, you may use it once or twice and then file it away with all the other unused gifts, and that’s just a huge waste of money that could be better spent on something you really want.
Amazon is featuring daily deals on gifts, and rush shipping (although check to make sure the standard delivery won’t get it to you in about the same amount of time):
Set a spending limit and stick to it. Just make sure you’re both on the same page.
And if your partner wants something unique, Etsy is a perfect place to look.
If you’re still not quite sure what you’re looking for, the discount kingdom is yours for the taking at:
* Genovese, Daniella. “Valentine’s Day Shoppers to Dole Out $2.8B for Loved Ones.” Fox Business, https://www.foxbusiness.com/economy/valentines-day-2021-shopping-spending
** Rox, Mikey. “14 Ways to Spend Less Money on Valentine’s Day.” WiseBread, https://www.wisebread.com/14-ways-to-spend-less-money-on-valentines-day