If improving your financial health is one of your goals for 2021, traditional Valentine’s Day festivities, such as romantic dinners or extravagant gifts might make your heart beat faster – and not in the “falling in love” kind of way. You don’t have to panic! There are plenty of ways to have a meaningful Valentine’s Day that expresses your love without adding financial stress to your life. The continuing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic provide even more reasons to shift gears this year and do things a little differently.

Ditch the Traditional Fancy Restaurant Dinner

Going out for a fancy dinner can be cliché and the expense is exceedingly excessive when you consider the meal, tip, transportation, and, if you have children, a babysitter.  The best restaurants are often very busy for Valentine’s Day and if you can’t get a reservation, you may be waiting quite a while for a table.  In many states, restaurants have restrictions on capacity, including spacing between tables, number of guests at each table, and use of the bar area.  All of these restrictions can make availability of a reservation even harder to come by and can add significant wait times to be seated.  Between the high costs and COVID-19 challenges, dining in a restaurant may not be the best option for your Valentine’s Day experience.  However, there are still affordable and safe ways to enjoy a meal with that special someone in your life.

Working together to prepare a home cooked meal presents a huge savings over dining out and is fun to plan and create together.  Consider making a special meal that you would not have on a typical Tuesday. If cooking is not your idea of a relaxing night, consider carry-out from your favorite restaurant.  Over the past year, many restaurants have enhanced their takeout practices and elaborate dishes can now be brought home and still taste like they came right out of the kitchen. You will still save a lot of money by avoiding tips and other expenses while supporting a restaurant that has likely been struggling this year due to the pandemic.  As a few added bonuses, takeout means you don’t have to stress about reservations or crowds and you won’t need to do as much cleanup at home before snuggling up for a romantic movie.

Still craving the experience dining out on Valentine’s Day? Consider going out to lunch instead of dinner, where menu prices are usually lower and restaurants are less crowded.

Meaningful and Affordable Gifts

There is an expectation to buy your significant other cards and gifts on Valentine’s Day.  While giving gifts is nice, there are ways to do it without going over budget.

Greeting cards can be incredibly pricey for a piece of fancy paper with words that aren’t your own. Consider buying a box of blank cards in different colors or patters.  You can usually get a box of 50 blank cards for the price of three greeting cards. Use your partner’s favorite colors to write them a personal message that really tells them how you feel. Then, you will have the rest of the blank cards to use for occasions throughout the year!

This year, consider a homemade gift that expresses your love but doesn’t cost an entire pay check.  Exercise those craft or woodworking skills to create something your partner will treasure forever.  Not skilled in the gift making department? Another alternative to traditional gifts is buying experiences.  As a couple, decide together how much you want to spend on gifts and then use that money to buy something you will both enjoy.  Perhaps it’s something relaxing like a couple’s massage or something more adventurous like rock climbing or skiing. The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked lots of virtual experiences that you can have safely from your home, such as online dance lessons or murder mystery nights.  These gifts and experiences can all build memories that will far outlast a pricy bouquet of fresh cut flowers.

Make your Valentine’s Day full of love and fun without regretting the expense the next day.  Need help figuring out how celebrations like Valentine’s Day can fit in your budget while still paying your bills? Meet with one of our Financial Advocates today!

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