“Can’t Buy Me Love” was a great song by Lennon and McCartney and frankly, a pretty good philosophy for Valentine’s Day in general.
There really are ways to enjoy a unique and memorable February 14 without overspending. Here are 10 ideas to warm their heart and spare your wallet:
1 Begin at the beginning. Maybe your relationship began at work, a party or a bus stop. Returning to that place and re-stage that moment using little props can re-capture memories.
2 Try a little due diligence. Ask your significant other or friend about his or her best Valentine’s Day ever. Listen for clues about gifts, activities or places you might try. Don’t wait until 48 hours before the holiday; you can always collect creative Valentine’s Day ideas 365 days a year.
3 Stay near the stove. A fabulous dinner almost always costs less at home. Plus, it’s a more intimate setting and shows dedication and thought.
4 Deliver kindness, not presents. Instead of wrapped gifts, what about chores or crafts? Focus on a gift based on something you know how to do rather than something you could just buy.
5 If it’s a night out, do your homework. Valentine’s Day can be one of the most crowded and expensive nights to go out. If you have a restaurant or event in mind, research everything you can about the food, ambiance and specials at various times of day – particularly during early, fixed-price periods and slower days of the week.
6 Grab those coupons, free passes and points. Mileage, restaurants and online discount clubs can offer a range of options. Points can be used for discounts or free nights out on Valentine’s Day or immediate dates. Decide which offers are the best deals and leverage them the best that you can.
7 Consider substitutions and alternatives. Why have that glass of champagne or celebratory cocktail at the restaurant if there’s a happy hour nearby where you can save a little money? Consider mixing and matching venues on a night out to save money.
8 Declare a staycation. Visit museums on half-price days or out-of-the-way eateries you always thought about trying. Even local hotels might be a better deal than traveling a greater distance.
9 You don’t have to run for the roses. A dozen roses are a classic gift. But there are potentially cheaper and equally beautiful flower alternatives. If your loved one has a green thumb, consider potted plants or seeds they can sow later. Remember, spring is right around the corner.
10 If you must bling, bling responsibly. If this Valentine’s Day involves a wedding engagement or another grand gesture of romance, plan well in advance so you can get advice on what you’re buying and ensure it’s in line with your loved one’s taste. Maybe a relative with a beautiful ring might offer it or sell it at a friendly price.
Bottom line: Valentine’s Day is about the people, not the bill. A little time and creativity can help you devise a memorable day without digging too far into savings.
By Nathaniel Sillin
Nathaniel Sillin directs Visa’s financial education programs. To follow Practical Money Skills on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PracticalMoney.