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Queen of free: Fall in love with saving money

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I must admit I’m a bit of a romantic, or at least that’s what the latest online poll I took told me. I do love a holiday devoted entirely to love. I get a little mushy when I think of making valentines with paper doilies and glitter.

I love making a trek to the superstore with my two daughters and letting them pick their favorite little cards (within a set budget of course). I adore showering a bit of extra love on that handsome man that I have the privilege of calling my husband. However, I also know that Valentine’s Day presents a financial challenge for me. How can I show the people I love most my true devotion without spending ridiculous amounts of money?

Move Celebration

True, there is something a mite bit contagious about love in the air during mid-February. But wouldn’t any other day smell just as sweet as the 14th? After all, should all of our displays of affections be tied up into what is essentially a historic day of tragedy? Also, aren’t all of the flowers, cards and candy incredibly more affordable on clearance?

Whether you move your celebration to the 15th, the weekend or even a month down the road, after the demand drops, so do prices. I am not suggesting you make your kids miss out on the parties or be “that” kid who brings in discount valentines, but for grown-up celebrations, press pause and wait until the gifts are more affordable and it’s easier to snag a table at your favorite local restaurant.

Take a lunch break

If both you and your spouse work, consider a lunch date over a night out on the town. Menu prices will be more affordable, and you won’t have the added expense of a baby sitter. Plus, the restaurant won’t be overcrowded with star-crossed lovers. A midday celebration might have a bit more quiet intimacy.

Don’t give in

I have fallen for more than one marketing trap this time of the year. Little stuffed animals with hearts for paws, trendy household decor and even those chalky heart-shaped candies have jumped into my cart without a thought.

If you are making extra purchases this Valentine’s Day, consider their long-term placement in your home. Avoid any decor that can be used for only a week or two, and don’t ever buy candy unless you love to eat it. Your wallet and your waistline will both thank you.

Dine in for evening

Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy fine foods. Grill up a nice steak or feast on crab legs this Valentine’s Day. Instead of ordering both off the menu, make a romantic meal with your spouse.

Feed the kiddos mac-and-cheese and then put them to bed. Then, begin preparing an “expensive” Valentine’s Day meal together with your love. Both the meal and the time you spend together are a blessing.

I love shopping at ALDI for pricier foods like lobster or fancy cheese. Plan your meal together and look forward to an evening of fine dining at your own kitchen table.

What about roses?

Maybe I’m just an old married woman who has grown complacent.

But the longer I walk the road of romance with my spouse, the more I realize that the “things” of romance don’t translate into devotion or true love.

Marketers are vying for your hearts and minds.

Refuse to fall into the trap of setting unrealistic expectations that your finances and spouse can’t live up to. Instead, take time to hand write a love note.

Finish that project that your spouse longs for you to do.

Toss in an extra load of laundry, clean out a closet or vacuum the inside of a car.

It’s OK to get swept away into the romance, but show your bank account some love this February.

Setting a budget and then sticking to it might be the very best way to show your significant other just how much you care.

Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe and her husband paid off $127,000 in debt in four years and now live debt-free every day with their two kids. Send questions, column ideas and comments to newstips@dailyjournal.

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