I imagine if my budget was a person, it’d wish me a Happy Valentine’s Day, and quickly thank me for not going big and spending a lot of money this year. I’m not anti-Valentine’s Day or non-sentimental. In fact, I think we should always give thanks and show appreciation for the ones we love (whether that is your significant other, friends, family, or yourself). For me, this doesn’t mean spending a lot of money.
According to a National Retail Federation survey cited by Time Money, the country is divided about Valentine’s Day, with 55 percent of Americans choosing to celebrate it. The article also cites a Discover survey saying those who do celebrate the holiday spend an average of $146.84 each -- and young adults under the age of 35 plan to spend even more, averaging $185. That’s a big dent in anyone’s wallet.
The retail industry is certainly prepared for the holiday. If you’re at your local drugstore picking up some cold medicine, you’re likely going to see rows of candy and heart-adorned gifts. Stores want you to feel like you need to buy these things.
If you do plan on spending money for Valentine’s Day, it doesn’t hurt to consider less extravagant options, or at least watch out for the big budget breakers. For example, since many restaurants and suppliers of chocolate or flowers jack up their prices because of the holiday, you might want to consider these suggestions that are a bit more budget-friendly.
- Wait a day before your purchase. If you thought about it for a day, would you still want it? Small impulse buys can add up, which is why it’s important to factor fun expenses (such as gifts or treats for yourself) into your budget. Knowing you have $25 for this expense can help you stick to that budget promise. Or, if you must buy assorted chocolates, why not celebrate a day late and get them at a discount?
- Consider spending a night in. Whether you’re with a significant other or your best friends, consider cooking a meal together or hosting a potluck. It’ll cost a lot less than a prix-fixe Valentine’s “special” (and you may even have have leftovers).
- Attend a free or low-cost event. Search for local events that won’t hurt your budget. For example, check out this website for the San Francisco Bay Area or this one for Houston, Texas. If you can’t find an event and the weather cooperates, think about doing something outdoors (like going on a hike and bringing a picnic) or checking out an iconic city destination that you haven’t been to in years (who says you can’t play tourist?).
As for me, I’m going to do two things I love: cook one of my favorite meals and watch one of my favorite movies. It’ll be an evening of eggplant parmigiana, “The Godfather,” and keeping my budget happy.
Disclaimer: LendUp is not providing financial, legal or tax advice. If you need or want such advice, please consult a qualified advisor.