Finding Financial Bright Sides of Valentine’s (Even if You’re a Hater)

As you might be able to guess, I’m in the “Valentine’s Day is a total commercial holiday” crowd.  With Valentine’s comes a lot of wasteful spending.  As this article points out, my “excuse” is one the major mistakes that men make with Valentine’s Day.  I think the core message of Valentine’s Day is a good thing: celebrating a relationship with someone you love. That said, I’ll still celebrate, reservations aside. Okay, enough of the mooshy stuff, let’s go on to what you can do if you’re like me.

1. Celebrate in a way you’ll both enjoy.  Even though my girlfriend appreciates Valentine’s Day more than I do, it doesn’t have to be a one-sided celebration.  We plan to go out to eat at somewhere that we both like.  I’m sure we’ll watch a movie or do something else special, too.  We do these things in a typically week anyway, so I’m definitely not sacrificing.  I’m sure I’ll have fun.

2. Spring for experiences instead of things.  Buying a stuffed animal is a waste of money as well as a clutter-builder.  It’s cute for about 5 seconds then it’s tossed aside.  Don’t buy things like this! Instead, go out for dinner, a show, or ice skating.  Spending on experiences instead of things can build much better memories and be much more meaningful at the same time.

3. Tone down spending without ditching Valentine’s.  The average male allegedly spends $159 on Valentine’s Day.  Whoa! That sounds excessive and unaffordable for a budget.  But even if you’re not willing to spend that much, for whatever reason, you can find plenty of things that cost less.  Find a reasonably priced (but not cheap looking) assortment of flowers, maybe add a reasonably-sized box of chocolates, and skip that damned stuffed animal!  And make your own greeting card instead of buying one. Using your own words to say how you feel costs less but is appreciated much more by the receiver.

4.  Find deals or other rewards on the things you ending up buying.  I typically buy flowers just once a year. After begrudgingly starting my online flower search, I came across a great realization: I can get rewards for purchasing flowers online.

I recently enrolled in Chris Guillebeau’s Travel Hacking Cartel, and I’ve already become addicted to earning miles (many of which can be earned without spending any money) .  After searching through the Continental Mileathon site, I found that I could earn about 1400 miles from one $55 flower purchase.  These miles are potentially worth up to $56 (if redeemed wisely).  Score!

Even if frequent flyer miles aren’t your thing, there are other deals to be had. By shopping though the Discover online store, I could have earned 20% cash back on my purchase.  There are lots of other promotions and coupons out there for flower sites, so be sure to look around.

If going out to a restaurant, check or buy from to save a few bucks if there’s a deal offered for somewhere you would go anyway.

With these methods, I managed to plan Valentine’s without being a cynic or cheapskate.  I didn’t have to make sacrifices, yet I found ways to keep from ripping a hole in my wallet.  Dare I say I’m looking forward to it?

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photo by: Beadmobile