Last Updated: February 6, 2012
With Valentine’s Day approaching, the heat-of-the-moment urge might be to splurge — to buy something expensive for that special someone, even if doing so makes little sense financially.
“On a hyped-up holiday like Valentine’s Day a lot of people feel pressure to come through in a big way,” observed FPA member Keith Singer, JD, CFP®.
It’s important that people have both their head and their heart in the right place on Valentine’s Day, said Singer. “Just because it’s a holiday doesn't mean you should spend resources unwisely to make someone happy. Everyone should be aware of their resources. You should always live within your means.”
That needn’t douse your Valentine’s Day show of love and affection, however. Here are some tips for playing Cupid without being fiscally stupid:
- Celebrate late. Point out to your sweetheart the financial wisdom of delaying your Valentine’s Day celebration by one day, namely the ability to take advantage of huge day-after discounts on roses and other types of flowers, candy, cards and more. Put a dollar figure on those potential savings to appeal to your partner’s financially pragmatic side, then ask he or she to get onboard with the idea of celebrating on the 15th.
- Steer clear of big-ticket items. “Expensive gifts are just a substitute for effort,” said Singer.
- On the flip side, effort can be a great substitute for expense. With creativity and time but not much money, you can deliver a gift that provides the “wow” factor without the “ouch” price. On Valentine’s Day, said Singer, people often crave a gift with “brag appeal” — one they’re proud to show off to friends. A scrapbook, photo book, piece of art or some other item made by you can provide just as much brag appeal as a gaudy piece of store-bought jewelry, Singer asserted.
- Find an alternative to flowers. The rule that consumers should avoid buying items at peak price certainly applies around Valentine’s Day, when the cost of roses and other flowers doubles, triples or more. Instead of flowers, consider purchasing a less expensive but similarly romance-inspiring item. How about a good bottle of wine or champagne, or a flowering houseplant, which, if properly cared for, won’t end up in the trash like a bouquet of roses?
- Wine and dine at home. Save big bucks by cooking a romantic meal at home, accompanied by candlelight and some soft, sensual music (Barry White anyone?).
- Give a gift that kindles romance without burning up your paycheck, such as IOUs or coupons that your loved one can redeem for services you provide — backrubs, foot massages and the like.
These are among the many ways for Cupid’s arrow to hit its mark without also puncturing a huge hole in your bank account.