Retailers love Valentine’s Day—even more than couples do.
They aim marketing efforts with arrow-like precision straight for the heart. Millions are spent each year to pull on heartstrings and push everything from fancy dinners and champagne to pricey flower bouquets and sparkly stud earrings.
Here’s a snippet from an ad that aired in 2018: “Love is everlasting. Love is a diamond.”
Wait. What? Love is a diamond?
Here’s the thing though. All that advertising still somehow works! The National Retail Federation expects Americans will shell out more than $19 billion for Valentine’s Day this year.(1) That’s over $140 per person!
We totally understand the importance of demonstrating your love and devotion. But it doesn’t have to bust your budget! Here are five Valentine’s Day traditions you can break up with (without any love lost) so you can save some big bucks and still celebrate your special someone.
1. Dinner Out
Some restaurants beef up their prices around Valentine’s Day. The average price for a dinner for two on Valentine’s Day is $96.(2) You read that right—nearly 100 bucks! They know people don’t want to cook and clean on days meant for pampering and celebration.
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Oh, and have you been to a nice restaurant on Valentine’s night? They’re packed! Good luck making it to the host stand. Instead, enjoy a romantic lunch on a random weekday. Or surprise your sweetheart with dinner on the 12th or 13th when restaurants aren’t crowded and menus prices are normal.
While everyone else is scrambling to find a reservation and a babysitter, you can chill out at home. Order a pizza, snuggle up on the couch, and watch When Harry Met Sally. Or The Princess Bride. Or Casablanca. Or whatever your go-to romantic movie is.
2. Delivery Roses
Love isn’t a diamond or a dozen red roses. Believe it or not, other flowers (in lots of colors) can show your affection too. Think twice before you preorder those $100 long-stemmed roses.
If she’s the bouquet type, why not grab some fresh white blooms and a single red rose to place in the bunch? If she doesn’t care for flowers, how about some colorful orchids in a keepsake vase or a dozen red and pink balloons? Just make sure it’s something she’ll actually appreciate and you have it worked out in your budget.
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 Hershey bars, some strawberries and a bag of pretzels. Melt the chocolate and get busy dipping!
If that’s too much work, reach for some chocolate chip cookie dough and a can of icing or whipped cream. Bake a giant cookie and let your kids do the decorating. Make memories with quality time too!
4. Diamond Jewelry
Unless your wedding anniversary and her birthday both fall on Valentine’s Day, forget the overpriced bling. Jewelry is a wonderful gift, but it doesn’t take a massive diamond to say, “I love you.” Scroll through sites like Etsy for one-of-a-kind gifts at a reasonable price.
Or if she already has heirloom rings or earrings, why not sneak them to a reputable jeweler for a quick cleaning and repair? If he has a favorite watch or pair of shoes that are a little worn down, get him a new band or have the shoes cleaned and resoled! Your thoughtfulness will warm their heart much more than generic jewelry or a tie.
5. High Tech
Maybe they’d like a Fitbit, an iPad, a cell phone upgrade, a smart speaker like Alexa or Google Home, or a pair of fancy new headphones. Have you priced all that stuff lately? Unless your budget says go, just say no! And for Pete’s sake, don’t go with a gym membership, vacuum or a blender. Just trust us on that one.
Instead of a fancy new gadget, why not give them an experience? Or a memory, technically speaking. Send the kids to Grandma’s house and make a special candlelight dinner. Put some soft music on in the background. We recommend “Playing Your Game” by Barry White. Dinner and dancing will show your inner romantic.
More Ideas Your Budget Will Love
- Wrap up some pajamas. Who doesn’t love some cozy sleepwear?
- Get a small bottle of perfume or cologne. If you like a fragrance, they’ll probably like wearing it.
- Put together a gift basket. Stock it full of their favorite things.
- Go on a picnic. Make sandwiches or grab some cheese and crackers and find a quiet spot together.
- Attend a Money & Marriage event near you. This is a date night worth investing in! You’ll have a fun evening away from the kids and walk away with keys to help you strengthen your relationship.