February 9, 2012
On the Cheap
It’s February already, and Valentine’s Day is sneaking up on us again. If you’re anything like me, you’re not giving or getting diamonds or cars with big red bows on them—those gifts are for the rich and boring. Skip the cards and the pricey flowers; they’re a drain on the environment and your wallet. If you’re creative and romantic you can have an unforgettable Valentine’s Day without breaking the bank. Here are a few ways to show you care for little or no cash:
Re-trace a favorite memory together:
Take the same hike, wear the clothes you wore on your first date, queue up a movie on Netflix that you two saw and loved in the theater. Go through old pictures together and try not to make fun of each other’s past haircuts. Then plan new memories you can make together by plotting out a dream vacation that you hope to take some day—pick the exotic destination, the restaurants you want to try, and the romantic hotel. (This is way cheaper than actually going to the hotel.)
Choose a meal from your favorite restaurant and try to recreate it at home:
Bonus points if it’s something complicated like sushi or chicken roulade (I don’t even know what “chicken roulade” is). Roll up your sleeves, put your apron on, and make appetizers and dessert, too. Set a fancy table with candles, a tablecloth, a vase, and the good china. Print out your personalized menu and trust that if your partner really loves you, they’ll tell you it tastes great before they feed it to the dog.
Why be selfish?:
Use the day to spread love and build your relationship by helping out at a soup kitchen, walking the dogs at your local shelter, or volunteering your time at a charity you really care about. There’s no better time than a day that celebrates love to start a new tradition helping your community. The effort will make you feel great and bring you closer together as a couple.
Write a song:
Show your partner you’re a rock star by writing a love song and recording it on a tape recorder—or giving a live performance. If you’re tone deaf or can’t pick out a tune on the guitar or piano, change the words to a song you love to make it about your partner. Make up a little dance to accompany it and give them a copy of the lyrics so they can sing along!
Look to the 15th:
My personal favorite, celebrate the Day After Valentine’s Day instead of the day itself—you can even get the nice chocolates and the (slightly wilted, but still good) roses, because they’re 50% off! Swing by a couple drug stores to pick up your discounted haul and eat sale candy until your teeth hurt. Fill out each valentine with something you love about your partner and leave them around the house. Congratulate yourself on being a thrifty couple and think of all the things you can buy with the money you saved by waiting until February 15th to show your love.
Valentine’s Day really doesn’t have to be about spending money to show your love. Think about what’s special to your relationship and plan your day according to you and your partner’s tastes, not what the greeting cards tell you Valentine’s Day is about. Use your imagination: If you’ve got to have chocolates, make your own with a simple truffle recipe (those really exist). If you’ve got to have flowers, buy her a potted perennial: It’s cheaper than a bouquet, plus it will live on long after the holiday’s over as a symbol of your love. Diamonds and new cars are nice, but the best way to show your love is to spend time together—and that’s totally free.