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Retailers love to sell love.
Each year, they spend millions making sure we crave five-course dinners, pricey flower bouquets and sparkly stud earrings. And it’s working.
Americans shell out more than $13 billion annually for Valentine’s Day.
But if you can’t afford this expensive version of romance, here’s another idea: Make a realistic plan for your money. And if that means you need to scale back, go right ahead.
Here are five Valentine’s Day traditions you can easily ditch (without any love lost) to save more money.
1. Fixed Menus
Restaurants are notorious for beefing up their prices around Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. They know people don’t want to cook and clean on days meant for pampering. But that doesn’t mean the only alternative is an overpriced outing.
Forget tradition. Surprise your sweetie during the week, when lines aren’t as long and menus are normal. Then, when everyone else is scrambling to get a reservation and find a babysitter, you can relax, order a pizza and snuggle up on the couch.
Related: Mind Your Manners: 7 Money Mistakes to Avoid at Restaurants
2. Delivery Roses
Love isn’t limited to red roses. Believe it or not, other flowers (in other colors) can show love too. So think twice before you automatically preorder those $100 long-stemmed roses.
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If she’s a stickler for bouquets, why not grab some beautiful white blooms and a single red rose to place in the bunch? Or if she doesn’t care for flowers, how about a nice succulent in a lovely pot, or a dozen red and pink balloons? Just make sure it’s something she’d actually appreciate.
3. Boxed Chocolates
Buy chocolate, please. But think outside of the marked-up, heart-shaped box. For a fun spin, whip up some homemade goodies with the kids. It’s not hard, we promise.
Just head to the store and grab a few high-quality chocolate bars, some fruit and a bag of pretzels. Melt the chocolate and get to dipping! Or if that’s too much work, reach for some chocolate chip cookie dough and a can of icing. Bake a giant cookie and let your kiddos do the decorating. Easy peasy.
4. Diamond Jewelry
Unless your wedding anniversary falls on Valentine’s Day, forget the overpriced bling. Jewelry is a great gift, but you don’t have to buy her a knockout diamond to say “I love you.”
Scroll through websites like Etsy for one-of-a-kind gifts at a great price. Or if your honey already has heirloom rings or earrings, why not sneak them to a reputable jeweler for a quick cleaning and repair? Your thoughtfulness will warm her heart much more than generic jewelry.
5. Store-Bought Greeting Cards
While this isn’t a huge expense, it’s definitely a lucrative one for retailers. That’s because Americans buy more than 180 million Valentine’s Day cards each year! If you’d rather skip the cheesy greetings altogether, recruit your kids and get creative.
Give them some glitter, crayons and construction paper and ask them to design a few special cards for you and your spouse to exchange. Then write meaningful messages inside and swap. They’ll love being involved and you’ll love seeing what they come up with.
Related: 7 Ways to Ruin Your Valentine’s Day Date
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Simply set a budget and get creative. There are countless ways to bless your sweetheart for less.
If you’re not sure how much you can spend on Valentine’s this year, sign up for EveryDollar today, our free online budgeting app. EveryDollar will help you plan your money.