This Valentine’s Day, express your love without breaking the bank

Just when you thought the holidays were over, Valentine’s Day makes its appearance. And even though the old saying “money can’t buy love” may hold true, money does seem to help people show their love—at least on Valentine’s Day. In fact, more cut flowers are sold for Valentine’s Day than any other holiday. Valentines Day is also the second most popular card-sending holiday and ranks number four in candy sales. Last year, the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimated that consumers spent $17 billion, with the average consumer spending $123. Before you break the bank expressing your love, consider these romantic alternatives:

Trim your list. The NRF survey found that 17.2% of celebrators planned to spend a combined $367 million on their pets last Valentine’s Day. Pets don’t feel jilted if they don’t get a Valentine’s Day gift, so give Fido a nice free pat or walk instead.

Use your talents. Sometimes, the best gifts are made, not bought. For example, if you are a writer, leave a love letter in a secret place. Other ideas include painting, song-writing, and cooking.

Recreate the magic. If you fell in love over Chinese food, order some in, light some candles and toast yourselves with a reasonably priced wine.

Get back to nature. Peaceful walks, a picnic in the park or an afternoon sleigh ride are romantic, low-cost activities.

Give the gift of time. Create a coupon book for your partner. That way, he or she can benefit from their gift throughout the year. Some good coupon items may include massages and sleeping-in privileges.

Share the love. Celebrate with your family by checking out some family-friendly romantic movies such as Beauty and the Beast, Lady and the Tramp, or The Princess Bride (one our family’s favorites!)

Work toward a common goal. Make an agreement with your partner to forego the Valentine’s Day spending all together so that you can put your money toward a common goal, such as homeownership or a summer vacation.

The key is to use your head when shopping with your heart. Periodic expenses are the adversary of good financial planning. Valentine’s Day is a perfect example of an often unplanned for event. Remember that if you use a credit card for your expenses, be sure to have a plan for pay off; that $123 can take an entire year to repay if you only make the minimum monthly payment.


Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

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