My 6-Point Plan For an Inexpensive, But Memorable, Valentine’s Day

by Travis Pizel · 22 comments

Do you know someone who has sworn off Valentine’s Day? There seems to be a growing movement urging us to skip the holiday altogether. Opponents call it a retail holiday and say we don’t need a special day to show love to our significant other.

While I agree that we don’t need a special day to express our appreciation and love, I don’t mind making it the focus for one day out of the year. I do, however, look for ways to avoid paying the outrageous costs that are associated with Valentine’s Day products.

I try to take the traditions of Valentine’s Day and add a little creativity — to not only keep the costs down, but also to personalize the holiday for the most important woman in my life.

Here’s what I’m doing for Valentine’s Day this year:

1. Chocolates

I could buy a box of chocolates for $3 from Walmart, or $50 from a specialty store, but I can guarantee that my wife wouldn’t like half of them. Instead, I’m going to get her an assorted package of Lindor Truffles, which I know she loves. To make it a little more appropriate for the holiday, I bought a sheet of Valentine’s Day stickers to jazz up the package.

2. Flowers

Retailers jack up the price of roses for Valentine’s Day. The florist in my area that normally sells a dozen roses for $14.99 will price them at $39.99 for Valentine’s Day. No thanks. My wife loves these neon-colored carnations that I can get at Walmart for about $6 a bouquet.

3. A special card

Instead of going the traditional route, and picking out a card with some impersonal message, I’m going to make my wife remembrances of our marriage.

I’ve typed up a summary of special days and experiences from our lives and will print them out on pink, red, and white pieces of heart-shaped paper. Then I’ll place the memory hearts throughout our house before she gets up — on the bathroom mirror, in the shower, on the refrigerator, on the steering wheel of the car, etc.

4. Undivided attention

Morning is a busy time in our home. We talk to each other, but it’s normally just in passing as we go through our usual routine of showers, breakfast, and lunch-packing.

On Valentine’s Day, we’re going to do things a little differently. She normally has her morning coffee in front of the laptop as she checks her social media accounts. Instead, I’m going to sit down next to her, close the laptop, and have a real conversation with her.

5. Dinner

Not only are restaurants overcrowded on Valentine’s Day, but the food is generally not the same quality because of it. (I know, because I worked as a cook in a restaurant in high school.)

For a special dinner, I’m going to cook my lovely wife one of her favorite meals: king crab legs. I used to be intimidated by them, but they’re seriously simple to make. They come pre-cooked: all you have to do is boil them with a little salt (and further directions can easily be found online). A king crab meal at a restaurant would cost $30 or more, whereas I’ll be able to make it at home with romantic candles and music — for a fraction of the cost.

6. Wine & Movie

My wife and I both love a particular Moscato dessert wine that we can get at Costco for almost half the cost of a traditional liquor store. Add some fresh strawberries and a movie, and we have a recipe for some quality snuggle time on the couch.

So how much will my Valentine’s Day cost in total?

  • Lindor Truffles: $3.49
  • Valentine’s Day Stickers: $1.49
  • Flowers: $6.00
  • Card: $0.00 (we have all the supplies already at home)
  • King Crab: $26 ($13 a pound on sale)
  • Baked Potatoes: $3
  • Salad Supplies: $8
  • Mescato Wine: $10
  • Strawberries: $4

Total: $61.98

How are you planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year? How much are you planning to spend?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Slinky says:

    “While I agree that we don’t need a special day to express our appreciation and love, I don’t mind making it the focus for one day out of the year. ”

    Yeah, it’s called our anniversary.

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      LOL, Slinky – good point. Participation in Valentine’s day is certainly not required, but for people that do decide to observe it just to add a little extra spice and fun to their lives, there are ways to do it without breaking your budget. Thanks for your thoughts!

  • lana says:

    Last year I took a photo of a grouping of mussels on vacation that were in the shape of a heart. I had it enlarged and am going to get a white photo pen and write something romantic and frame it.

    I also make a nice meal with his favorite wine and give him a massage.

    After 31 years of being together, I’ve learned romance isn’t about spending money.

    • Mrs. Jim says:

      Oh yeah, lana! Give it up for the “together for over 3 decades”. Now there’s a group who knows how to do it!!!!!! Listen up, young’uns – ha!

      • Travis @debtchronicles says:

        I’m in awe of people able to keep their marriage together for that long in this day and age…I’m almost at 18 myself. ‘Till Death Do Us Part still means something!

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      Great Creativity, Lana…Love it!

  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says:

    I like number 4, undivided attention 🙂

  • a sheila says:

    My husband and I don’t celebrate valentine’s day, birthdays, or any holidays. He loves to be surprised, so I simply give him thoughtful, useful small gifts at random times to delight him, and he does the same for me. I also take hubby on surprise dates and day trips. The money and time we save from buying lots of stuff at standard holidays goes into interesting experiences at regular intervals. I think this is also healthier for our relationship — instead of feeling obligated to do/buy certain things at certain times, we have regular fun time together without being tied to specific deadlines.

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      The thing I love about your perspective, a sheila, is that you don’t just ignore being spontaneous and showing your love for each other, you just choose to do it in your own way, at your own time. Kudos to you!

  • property marbella says:

    I save all the money on Valentines Day, my girlfriend is a singer and is fully booked as usual on Valentine’s Day in a variety of restaurants and major hotel all day and well into the night. We always celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend after if she’s free, and then everything is cheaper.

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      Great plan, property marbella! Not only do things go back to their usual prices (food, roses, etc), but you can find a ton of things on clearance in the days following the holiday. You’ve got a great plan going…..hey, maybe all of us cost conscious people could all save a lot of coin if we celebrated EVERY holiday a week later! 🙂

  • Adam says:

    Sounds like a great Valentines dinner David. I always get my Valentines flowers at the grocery store..such a huge savings.

    If you have time, you should consider entering one of the Reed&Barton giveaways. Several bloggers are running giveaways(monitor the R&B Twitter to find them) and on our blog, we will be giving away one of our awesome crystal vases with two dozen roses.

    I am sure your wife is going to love the day..I just may copy your card idea.

    • Travis Pizel says:

      If you do try my card idea, come back and let us know how it turned out for you Adam…Thanks for dropping by!

  • KM says:

    The few Valentine’s Days my husband and I shared were just me cooking a more special dinner (one time I went all out and made sushi, a main meal, and a cake) than usual. My husband learned his lesson once for another holiday when he got me flowers and I gave them to my mom because I couldn’t stand the smell. I don’t like cards because they feel like clutter, and even non-smelly flowers end up being thrown away very quickly. So I just like to spend some quality time together instead, maybe making dinner fancier with candles, but nothing more than that.

    • Travis Pizel says:

      Quality time is a great way to show our loved ones that we care….you can leave all the material gifts you want sitting on the counter, but spending time, and giving them your attention means so much more. 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts, KM!

  • Mrs. Jim says:

    Oh I LOVE your “special card” idea. My husband frequently gives me cards he “makes” himself – best gifts I’ve ever gotten and I’ve saved and cherished everyone of them. Your plan sounds fantastic.

    • Travis Pizel says:

      Thanks, Mrs. Jim….I hope my loves them as well. Whenever we get the chance to truly express ourselves (instead of someone else’s words and thoughts), we should do so!

  • Frankie's Girl says:

    I dislike the whole concept of Valentine’s Day – buy overpriced crap to prove you love someone? I also hate greeting cards as the concept of buying someone else’s generic written sentiment instead of writing your own thoughts or feelings down really bugs me.

    I told my husband back when we first got married that I didn’t need him to do anything at all since I knew he loved me without him doing the things considered mandatory on that day… and we instituted an AntiValentine’s Day protocol: We get some cheap junk food (burgers and fries or pizza), some action or silly movies (NOT romantic comedy – we did a Die Hard marathon once) and if it’s on the weekend, we spend the day in our pajamas watching funny stuff and snacking. It works for us, and we both love it.

    • Travis Pizel says:

      Hey, as long as you’re both happy with it, Frankie’s Girl – proceed to celebrate (or not celebrate) Valentine’s day as you choose! 🙂

  • Kendal @HassleFreeSaver says:

    Great ideas! My husband thinks Valentine’s Day is a retail holiday but I still really enjoy it. I’m usually the one who makes plans as a result, and last year we did go to a fancy dinner at one of the local restaurants. It was okay — I agree that planning something less formal is the way to go. My dad always gets my mom a single rose and a thoughtful card — it doesn’t cost much and she loves it. That’s the whole point, right?

    • Travis Pizel says:

      Retailers definitely get in on the action, as they do with any holiday. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking a special day to put some special focus on our loved ones. Doing it right doesn’t have to mean going overboard – just as you said, it doesn’t have to cost much as long as the recipient loves it! Thanks for commenting, Kendal!

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