Valentine’s Day can get really expensive. It’s like Cupid’s Arrow is made of solid gold and everyone knows it!
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to break your bank. Valentine’s Day is about showing your significant other how much you care, appreciate, and love him or her. You can do all of that without spending a fortune, especially if you use a little creativity.
1. Spread Out the Love
Rather than limit the outpouring of love to a single day, spread it out over an entire week. Think about a fireworks show – they don’t fire all the rockets at the same time and call it a night. They build a crescendo. A lot of little rockets, strategically fired, culminate in a spectacular finale.
Why not do the same for Valentine’s Day? In the days leading up to Feb. 14, sprinkle in romantic gestures that make your special someone feel appreciated and loved. They don’t have to cost a lot of money; they just need to be heartfelt and genuine. Think love letters, cards, and flowers.
When the 14th arrives, you won’t need to spend a lot to get a great reaction because you’ve built up the anticipation. Remember that experiences appreciate and things depreciate, so the memory of this build-up will last much longer than anything you could physically give.
2. It’s the Thought That Counts
The most memorable gifts are the ones that are the best planned and not always the most expensive. It’s hard to plan well when you’re under the gun. It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying something, even if it’s a bit too expensive, just because it’s right there. My solution to this conundrum is to take away the pressure of time.
I maintain a hidden Pinterest board of all the great gift ideas I stumble upon throughout the year. Rather than panic around birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day, I accumulate pins on my board so I can review them for ideas and inspiration. The board is chock full of things that, in a pinch, I could get quickly.
If your significant other uses a social media account like Pinterest, you could always scan his or her boards or pages to see what they like. If they use Amazon, a popular Amazon hack is being able to look at another person’s wish list with only their name. It’s more accurate if you have their email, but still can be a big source of ideas. It’s like reading their mind.
3. Enjoy a Candlelight Dinner at Home
If you haven’t gotten a dinner reservation by now, all the best places are booked … except your dining room.
All you need for a successful candlelit dinner are a few candles and a dinner! There are plenty of recipes that taste delicious and are easy to prepare, even if you’re a novice in the kitchen. In fact, if you are a novice, your significant other will likely appreciate it even more.
4. Shift It by a Day
If the thought of cooking dinner at home scares you, shift the night you go out by one. Go out the night before or the night after. You’ll find more dinner reservations are available and it might be be cheaper, since they won’t be taking advantage of the date.
There are other benefits to shifting Valentine’s Day forward or backward. Smaller crowds, easier parking and an all-around better dining experience since the restaurant won’t be slammed. You’ll get a better experience for your dinner bill.
5. Don’t Forget Gift Cards
If you really have no idea what to get, gift cards always work well, especially to spas. Everyone loves going to the spa but it can feel like an indulgent and guilty pleasure … unless someone has given you a gift card! If you know which spa he or she likes going to, you can research spas on sites like the SpaFinder network, where they may be available at a discount online. If they aren’t, you can buy one directly from the spa.
If you’re headed out to dinner, many high end restaurants sell gift cards through retailers at a discount, too. Costco, for example, has been known to sell $100 gift cards for $80 to pricier restaurants like Fleming’s and McCormick & Schmick’s. You can also often find these deals online because restaurants love selling gift cards – they can collect the money without doing any of the work.
Whatever you decide, it’s definitely wise to not go into debt just to prove your love, particularly if your debt is having a negative impact on your credit scores. (You can see two of your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.)
With these ideas, you can have a lovely Valentine’s Day celebration without breaking the bank!
This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.
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