4 Ways to Save Money on Valentines Day – A Slightly Cynical Perspective

Confession: Valentine’s Day is low on my list of favorite holidays. Before you write me off as a cynic – you should know that I LOVE everything about love and all that comes with celebrating love. What I don’t love is being told that I need to celebrate the love in my life on a specific day in a certain way – especially when that certain way will cost me mounds of cash. Based on some highly scientific research made up of conversations with my friends and polls of random people in my local grocery store, I know I’m not alone in this thinking. However, mainstream America seems to disagree.

Last year, Valentine’s Day spending in America hovered around 19 billion dollars. That’s right, billion with a B. If spending hundreds of dollars on a so/so dinner and a material gift doesn’t fit into your budget this February, we’ve got ideas on how you can celebrate the day of love without digging in to your savings.

1.     Spend the night at home

Before you protest that “a night at home couldn’t possibly be better than a night on the town!” hear me out. For a mere fraction of what you would spend on a Valentine’s night out, you can cook an amazing meal and simultaneously transform your home into the romantic destination of your dreams.

Food and Wine has provided an extensive section of Valentine’s entrée and dessert recipes, all of which look delicious and are considerably less expensive to prepare yourself than to purchase at a restaurant. You can cook these for your amor as a special treat, or perhaps prepare the meal together as a bonding experience. The fun you will have preparing the meal with your partner will most definitely beat sitting in a crowded restaurant packed next to 50 other couples all overspending on dinner in the name of “making the night special.”

Head to a store like Homegoods or TJMaxx to find adorable home decorations on the cheap. Stock up on candles, blankets and other accessories to optimize your living space for snuggle time. Have a one-on-one game night, or turn on a romantic Netflix movie and just spend the remainder of the evening chilling.

2. Get Groupon saavy

If the idea of foregoing a Valentine’s evening out is simply too horrifying to handle, hit up Groupon to find great deals on meals at local restaurants or fun activities in your city. A recent Groupon search netted me around 400 restaurant deals in Seattle, some of which were at the most romantic venues that I could imagine. If your date turns up their nose at the thought of using a coupon on their expensive dinner, you may want to evaluate your compatibility.

You can also surprise your date with a fun activity purchased from Groupon. Research shows that couples who engage in new activities together bond more quickly than those who don’t – so putting on your bravest face and participating in that dance class or rock climbing lesson just may prove to be the most successful Valentine’s date yet!

3. Delay your Valentine’s celebrations

It’s well known that Valentine’s Day has become an industry of its own in the United States. Companies roll out “love” branded sweets and decorations soon after New Years, prices of roses and flower deliveries mysteriously rise and special Valentine’s menus come with outlandish costs. BUT PEOPLE KEEP BUYING! If you or your love is set on a special night on the town in celebration Valentine’s Day, consider celebrating a few days after February 14th. The prices of chocolates, flowers, jewelry, and your meal will be back to normal (or even on sale!), your budget will be kept intact, and your night will be just as special.

4. Put money towards a shared savings goal

I would classify myself as a foodie and it will be a cold day in hell when I turn down an invitation to dinner at a nice restaurant. But what sounds even better (when I consider things from a long-term perspective) is finally reaching a goal that my love and I have set together. This Valentine’s day, I will be adding money to my “Romantic Vacation” Money Cloud rather than spending money on a night out. My boyfriend will be doing the same, getting us a little closer to taking the beach vacation we’ve always dreamed of. I know that the memories of another night at a restaurant will eventually fade, while the memories we will build on a vacation will last a lifetime.

When considering how you will spend your time and money this Valentine’s day, remember that this holiday doesn’t have to break the bank. Sitting down and discussing priorities, budget constraints, and future goals with your partner can help prevent any disappointment or mismatched expectations. After all, Valentine’s Day is about the celebration of love and as JLo so poignantly crooned sixteen years ago – Love don’t cost a thing.

Charlee Van Wagenen