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6 tips for a frugal Valentine's Day

Express your love without hurting your savings. Here's how.

By Karen Datko Jan 29, 2010 11:44AM

This guest post comes from Flexo at Consumerism Commentary. It’s the final day of Flexo's 10-day, 10-venue tour.


The massive marketing push as the calendar heads toward Valentine's Day has begun. From greeting cards to diamonds, from Lexus to 1-800-Flowers, companies and brands want to be indelibly linked to the popular holiday for lovers.


With economic recovery still slow, there are still many loving couples struggling to make ends meet. Why make a bad situation worse by spending more than necessary?

Here are some of my tamer suggestions for experiencing a frugal Valentine's Day this year.


Make your own greeting cards. I don't enjoy walking into greeting card stores this time of year. The musical cards that play a tune when you open them make bad gifts. The music stored on a hidden computer chip is compressed so much it will almost always sound horrible at best, unrecognizable at worst. These, and even the standard silent cards, are always overpriced and never quite fit your situation the right way. Have you ever found a greeting card whose words perfectly expressed your thoughts and feelings?


It takes hardly any effort to write a love note by hand or design your own card. Microsoft Word has templates to get you started, but I think there's something more appealing about the ancient approach: pen and stationery.


Skip the chocolate. Chocolate, especially the good stuff, is expensive but it does have a good reason for being associated with the holiday of love. The best chocolates contain chemicals that stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain, and allowing your partner to experience pleasure should always be a goal for Valentine's Day.


Take a frugal approach and make your own chocolate. Melting prepared chocolate and shaping the delicacy with molds won't save you much money, so start from scratch with the cocoa beans.

Avoid gifts of sensual clothing. A gift of lacy lingerie or sexy underwear for your partner is mostly a gift for your own enjoyment. If the garment is particularly extraordinary, you might expect to see it only once a year. Clever couples could come up with free alternatives to lingerie.


Turn off electrical appliances. With a romantic holiday like Valentine's Day, you have an excuse for turning off the television and the lights. This is a good opportunity to break out the candles when the sun goes down, if you must have light.


Skip the gourmet dinner. Dining out at an amazing restaurant often has two benefits: You enjoy good food for food's sake, and you also enjoy the experience. The better the experience, the more you usually have to pay. If your goal is to spend the holiday in line with frugality, fancy restaurants do not comply. Either prepare a special meal for your partner or spend some time cooking together.


Spend time together. If I wanted to write an endless article, I could list all the romantic, free activities that a couple could possibly do on Valentine's Day. All of these suggestions could be reduced to simply spending time together. Talking, going for a walk, listening to music, watching a romantic movie on television, and giving and receiving massages are all great ways to connect with your partner without buying anything. I'm sure every couple has a favorite activity that focuses attention on each other without taking out the wallet.


What are your suggestions for saving money on Valentine's Day? Leave your thoughts in comments below.


Related reading at Consumerism Commentary:

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