[Note: Like all my posts, this one comes from the gentleman's perspective. If you are a lady out there, perhaps you can subtly leave this post where your loved one might stumble upon it by accident ;-).]Valentine's Day is right around the corner. If you have a special person in your life, now is the time to start planning for the Day that Hallmark Built. (Disclaimer: I'm not sure Hallmark created Valentine's Day, but it seems like it sometimes). If you don't have that special someone, you could do what my wife did for years... rename it National Do Your Taxes Day. Yes, it's sad, but at least that story (luckily for me) has a happy ending.
One of things that I've learned over the years is that it doesn't make much sense to overspend on events like Valentine's Day. I think it's much more meaningful and spontaneous to celebrate the random May 21st or August 3rd with a small gift. Plus, a lot of the time, you get stuck with a bunch of things that are pretty overpriced for what they are. This time of year you can expect big mark-ups on flowers and chocolate. One of the central tenants of this website is to save money to give yourself the financial freedom for the life you want rather than the life that "pays the bills." With that in mind, here are some ideas on how to save money on Valentine's Day.
Stay in For Valentine's Day
It can be tough to pull off the "Let's stay in this year" conversation. It is my experience that women like to get dressed up and go out... and this is one of the premier nights to do just that. However, going out gets expensive. Dinner and movie can cost upwards of $200 in some places (wine isn't cheap sometimes). If you can win the battle to stay home, the dividends not only pay off in the wallet, but the journey to the bedroom is much quicker. What can you do to pull of the "stay at home" plan?
- Make Her Breakfast in Bed - I'll admit that it can be tough to pull this off in the start the week. My wife is a pretty deep sleeper, so I've been able to execute the breakfast in bed in the past. It's worth the effort.
- Make a Special Dinner - There are a lot of ways to make a special dinner. You know her favorite foods, right? That's a good place to start. You can order some heart-shaped pasta online. Pair that with a white wine sauce recipe and you are in good shape. Don't forget the dessert wine with dark chocolate. The whole dinner may run you under $30... or a little more if you opt for seafood and more expensive wine.
- Cue up a Movie - This is a good time to set up that Netflix queue. Look at what she's added and bump up a romantic option to the top. If your dinner is good enough, you might be able to pull off a romantic sports movie like For the Love of the Game. (Just go in with the mindset that you are watching a "chick flick", but with bonus sports footage.)
- Cue up Music and Dance - Songza is a great free music service that you can set to your mood. It doesn't get any easier than that. However, if you want to go the extra mile , make a mix with iTunes or your smart phone. I personally skip that, as I'd probably just put Paramore's The Only Exception on repeat. (Take a minute to watch the video, especially the ending, and sing with me "I'm on the way to believing.")
- Massage Oils and Candles - You've done the dinner. You've done the desert and wine. You've done the movie... or if your lucky only a small part of the movie. You probably don't need massage oils at this point, but it can't hurt.
Get out of the House
All is not lost if you didn't with the "Let's stay home" conversation. One of my favorite tips is to relocate the celebration of the Valentine's Day to a day on the nearest weekend. Who wouldn't want to a full day to enjoy the holiday instead of spending half at work, right? In addition to that, I usually try to earn extra points by surprising her with some kind of comfort food take-out that we like for the 14th itself.
When you move Valentine's Day to the weekend, you open up more options (including the breakfast in bed mentioned above):
- Go for a Picnic - If you live in a warm climate, planning a picnic is almost always a winner. This year, most of you can scratch that idea.
- Go to a Museum - Museums are typically the same price year round and they aren't nearly as crowded as movies.
- Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane - Literally. Take her to places where you had your first kiss or went on a first date. Just be careful with this, because when it happens on those diamond commercials, it always ends in a proposal.
- Create an Adventure - If you have some time you can plan a treasure hunt in the style of Midnight Madness. (Don't feel bad if you didn't see it, I think my wife and I are the only two people in the world who have).
Give the Frugal, High Value Gift
At the risk of sounding corny and cheesy, there are a lot of inexpensive gifts you can give. Here are some ideas to help you with that.
- Give a Coupon Book - Make a book of coupons of favors that you'll do. This could range from chores to massages. (Bonus Tip) You might want to start with doing a few chores right away. Studies show that women like men who do housework.
- Write a Love Note - This may sound difficult if you aren't the creative type. However, this is another reason why you should hone your writing skills. Look to the internet for advice on how to go about it, here's some from a female romance reader.
- Exchange Small Practical Gifts - My wife and I keep our Amazon Wishlist updated throughout the year. Usually we have a few of these small practical gifts on the list. For example, I'm heavily considering putting the Wrap-a-nap on there. I showed it to my wife and she thought it looked pretty cool
Finally, since we are trying to be better, why not donate some of the money you save to charity? You can't go wrong by giving money to breast cancer. What tips you do you have for planning a frugal Valentine's Day? Let me know in the comments.This post involves: