When you’re dating, it’s exciting to dine at fancy restaurants and get long-stemmed roses on Valentine’s Day. But if you’ve committed to each other and merged your finances, and you’re not rolling in dough as a couple, expensive gifts on February 14th aren’t necessarily appropriate. Thankfully, there are creative ways to show your partner and your budget some love this Valentine’s Day.
Say It in Your Own Words
Have you seen someone look at a store-bought card and gasp at the price on the back? Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Phoenix operations with Freedom Financial Network, says you can get mushy and keep your practical partner happy at the same time. “It’s easy to shell out $5 or more for a commercial card that does not come close to conveying your feelings about your significant other,” says Gallegos. “Instead, write a love letter that highlights all that you love about him or her.”
Choose Your Own V-Day
February 14th is not a magical date. Perhaps you can celebrate the holiday on a less crowded, less expensive day. “Spend Valentine’s Day at home cuddling, and go out on a different night, when prices are cheaper and you can take advantage of discounts,” says Teresa Mears, editor-in-chief of Living on the Cheap.
Valentine’s Day may be a big event for florists, but it can also pay to check out grocery stores and other sources for flowers. Or consider something that will last longer; perhaps skip the cut flowers and choose a plant instead. In fact, says Gallegos, a live flowering plant can serve as “an everyday reminder of your love.”
Give What You’ve Got
Another option for gifts, says Gallegos, is to make something yourself. “Think about any talent you have,” he says. “Maybe you can knit a scarf or bake a favorite cake or some cookies.” Other ideas include creating a coupon book for massages, favorite meals or hiking at a local park. You could even make a playlist or a photo collage of your favorite memories as a couple, he adds.
Dine Chez Vous
Of course, saving money on Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean skimping on romance. “Nothing is more romantic than a home-cooked dinner at home. And it’s so much cheaper than going out to a restaurant,” says Mears. “If you don’t cook, investigate takeout options.” With a little creativity and a lot of love, you can create cost-conscious Valentine’s Day memories that last all year long.
Robyn Tellefsen is a New York City-based freelance writer