Ah, the day of love is upon us yet again.
If you’re single, no biggie, just another day. If you’re married or in a relationship, Valentine’s Day can put a hurt on your wallet and challenge even the strongest of money-related New Year’s resolutions, assuming, of course, you are still on the wagon.
For many, Valentine’s Day comes at a time of year when they are still working to pay off debt accumulated from Christmas.
According to MagnifyMoney’s annual post-holiday debt survey, Americans who went into debt to pay for Christmas in 2017 took on an average of $1,054 of debt. That’s a chunk of change, especially when it is accruing interest at a high rate as credit card debt often does.
According to the survey, only half of the respondents thought they would be able to pay off the balance within three months. Many of the respondents thought it may take up to five months to pay off the debt and a minority planned to only make the minimum payment.
Enter Valentine’s Day. Granted, love knows no bounds but, at the same time, it is important to be mindful of your spending.
We’ve got you covered. But first, here are some numbers to help put things into perspective.
Americans take Valentine’s Day Seriously and Spend Commensurately
The National Retail Federation estimates U.S. consumers will spend an average of $143.56 on Valentine’s Day this year, up from $136.57 in 2017. Total Valentine’s Day spending is expected to be $19.6 billion, up from $18.2 billion last year.
The study also notes that those in the 25-34 age group will be the biggest spenders at an average of $202.76. Guess that’s just how us millennials roll.
Those celebrating Valentine’s Day plan to spend $4.7 billion on jewelry, $3.7 billion on an evening out on the town, $2 billion on flowers, $1.9 billion on clothing, $1.5 billion on gift cards or gift certificates and $894 million on greeting cards.
Hopefully, this article will help skew those numbers down a bit and help you navigate the financial challenges that can come along with the holiday. Your chocolate covered strawberries will be that much sweeter knowing you didn’t go into debt to pay for Valentine’s Day this year.
Shower Your Sweetheart Without Throwing Money Down the Drain
The numbers above represent average spending, but you aren’t just average are you? We can do better than that by making a few slight tweaks to how we go about showing our love to our special someone.
Most supermarkets and grocery stores mark up their flowers on Valentine’s Day (and, for future reference, Mother’s Day) to exorbitant prices. If you are brave enough to venture in wanting roses, be prepared to take out a second mortgage on your home. The same goes with ordering flowers online. Even with the advertised “discounts” you will still way overpay.
We’ve found that neighborhood market type chains like Aldi and Trader Joe’s not only have a wide selection of flowers, but they also don’t charge an arm and a leg. You can expect to pick up a dozen roses for between $12-$15 at a store like this.
Also, you are not obligated to buy roses, which are usually the most expensive type of flower to buy for Valentine’s Day. If your significant other loves sunflowers or hydrangeas, go with that and get extra brownie points for your thoughtfulness.
Greeting cards have become crazy expensive and can be a waste of money. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of heartfelt, handwritten cards, but not when they cost $5.99 each.
Dollar stores like Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, 99 Cents Only Stores, etc. are where it’s at when it comes to greeting cards. A lot of these types of stores even have cards two for $1. Rest assured though, you have our permission to splurge on the more expensive $0.99 card. Your sweetheart is worth it.
If you want to take it one step further, you can make your own card. This is your chance to show your thoughtfulness and just what a creative genius you really are.
It is safe to say the majority of people go out to eat on Valentine’s Day. That’s all fine and dandy, but going to a fancy pants restaurant with a prix fixe menu is a surefire way to spend some serious money on your meal.
Instead of that, why not keep it casual? If Chipotle or Panera is your favorite restaurant as a couple, head there for your V-Day dinner instead. Another good, inexpensive option for dinner is to go with an ethnic restaurant. Think Mexican, Thai, Indian, etc. Great food at often great prices.
Another smooth money-saving move is to go out to lunch instead of dinner. You can also cheat the system by celebrating Valentine’s Day early or late, but this would likely require an understanding Valentine lest you come off as a colossal cheapskate.
4. Make Dinner at Home
Going out to eat on Valentine’s Day can be fun, but if you really want to up your game, consider making dinner at home.
Not only can cooking at home save a ton of money, but cooking together can be a great way to spend your evening. My wife and I have done this for the past several Valentine’s Days and we love it and look forward to it every year. We usually plan our meal weeks in advance.
If you don’t regularly cook, you can even use this as an opportunity to surprise your spouse or significant other. Just be sure to have your Chinese takeout or pizza joint on speed dial in case things don’t go as planned.
Instead of going to the movies, along with everyone else, and dropping even more money on movie tickets, stay in and take advantage of Netflix or Redbox.
Just think, you could either sit in a crowded movie theater inundated by the smell of popcorn, or relax at home and cuddle up on the couch with a movie or binge watch your favorite show. I know which option we’ll be choosing.
No matter how you choose to celebrate, try to be as thoughtful as possible with whatever you do. Has your significant other mentioned a movie recently they would like to watch? Did you guys eat at a restaurant in the past he or she really liked?
Spend a few minutes racking your brain to see if you can come up with something thoughtful and special that will make an impact on the one you love.
When it comes to spending money on Valentine’s Day, it really is the thought that counts and that is something you can take to heart.
What are your Valentine’s Day plans? Have any awesome money-saving V-Day hacks to share?