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Dining and Drinking

Valentine's Day: Show Your Love Without Going Broke

Tips for Saving Money Without Skimping on Romance

When you’re dating, it’s exciting to dine at fancy restaurants and get long-stemmed roses on Valentine’s Day.

Make more of what’s yours.

But if you’ve committed to each other and merged your finances, and you're not rolling in dough as a couple, expensive gifts on February 14th aren't necessarily appropriate.

Thankfully, there are creative ways to show your partner and your budget some love this Valentine’s Day.

Say It in Your Own Words

Have you seen someone look at a store-bought card and gasp at the price on the back? Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Phoenix operations with Freedom Financial Network, says you can get mushy and keep your practical partner happy at the same time.

"It’s easy to shell out $5 or more for a commercial card that does not come close to conveying your feelings about your significant other," says Gallegos. "Instead, write a love letter that highlights all that you love about him or her."

Need inspiration? Try the fun prompts in "What I Love About You" by Kate and David Marshall, or get inspired by the "12 Days of Love Notes" Pinterest board. There’s even a free online Love Poem Generator that can make you an instant E.E. Cummings.

Choose Your Own V-Day

February 14th is not a magical date. Perhaps you can celebrate the holiday on a less crowded, less expensive day.

“Spend Valentine’s Day at home cuddling, and go out on a different night, when prices are cheaper and you can take advantage of discounts,” says Teresa Mears, editor-in-chief of Living on the Cheap.

Rebekah Bossert, a physical therapist assistant in Staten Island, N.Y., says she and her husband of six years dine out on off-days every year. “We went out on Valentine’s Day once and hated every second – expensive prix fixe and they rushed our meal,” she says.

Shop Around

Valentine’s Day may be a big event for florists, but it can also pay to check out grocery stores and other sources for flowers.

Or consider something that will last longer; perhaps skip the cut flowers and choose a plant instead. In fact, says Gallegos, a live flowering plant can serve as “an everyday reminder of your love.”

Give What You’ve Got

Another option for gifts, says Gallegos, is to make something yourself.

“Think about any talent you have,” he says. “Maybe you can knit a scarf or bake a favorite cake or some cookies.” Other ideas include creating a coupon book for massages, favorite meals or hiking at a local park. You could even make a playlist or a photo collage of your favorite memories as a couple, he adds.

One way to create something unique is with MemWow! or Animoto, both of which offer free options for creating customized and memorable slideshows from your favorite photos and videos.

Dine Chez Vous

Of course, saving money on Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean skimping on romance.

“Nothing is more romantic than a home-cooked dinner at home. And it’s so much cheaper than going out to a restaurant,” says Mears. “If you don’t cook, investigate takeout options.”

Charis Russel, a homeschooling mom who has been married for 14 years, says her husband, Frank, did just that. “He bought some delicious takeout from a Spanish restaurant and set up the living room like a restaurant: Table for two, candles, and music,” says the New York native. “It was so romantic!”

With a little creativity and a lot of love, you can create cost-conscious Valentine’s Day memories that last all year long.

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