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Young Love Birds: Take Heed of Old Marrieds on Valentine’s Day

How to Celebrate Love While Staying on Budget

Valentine's day

This year, Americans will spend an estimated $17 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts for significant others, family members, and pets. (Don’t laugh—Americans spent more than $700 million on their pets last Valentine’s Day.) According to the National Retail Federation, the average person spends $142.31 on the day of love. Less likely to spend that much? Those married or coupled for more than five years. Whether they’ve lost that loving feeling or they’ve wised up about inflated prices on Valentine’s Day, young people can learn a thing or two from long marrieds and save a few bucks.

  1. Like Uber on New Year’s Eve, florists tend to adopt surge pricing for roses on Valentine’s Day. The cost of a dozen roses is often twice as much on Valentine’s Day as it is the other 364 days of the year. If you want to buy someone flowers, consider a different type. Alternatively, buy flowers a few days in advance. Best not wait until the day after, lest your beloved think you forgot and were trying to make up for it.
  2. Think twice before going out to dinner on the big day. Restaurants often offer prix fixe menus, and rearrange their tables to jam as many couples into the space as possible, which makes for a rushed, inflexible and possibly stressful experience. Instead of dinner, do something interactive like ice skating or going for gourmet hot chocolate. Save dinner for a less hectic night.
  3. Create your own traditions and do something fun at home. My husband and I order dumplings from our favorite Chinese restaurant, get a bottle of pink champagne, and I make molten chocolate lava cakes from scratch. Economical, delicious, and fun.
  4. Realize Valentine’s Day is not a competition. There will always be someone in your social circle who makes—or receives—an over-the-top gesture on Valentine’s Day. Whether it’s jewelry, a vacation, or some other extravagant gift, don’t feel pressure to compete. Celebrate the holiday the way you are comfortable. Depending upon your relationship, that could mean doing nothing, exchanging cards, or a buying your partner a small, thoughtful gift. Bigger isn’t always better.
  5. Focus on larger financial goals. Instead of spending money on flowers and chocolates and overpriced, potentially subpar dinners, agree to save for a larger purchase—be it a new TV, a vacation or even saving more for retirement—the gift that you’ll truly appreciate forever. This way, even if you aren’t doing much on Valentine’s Day, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing there are bigger things to look forward to in your future.

I polled some of the AICPA staff to find out their fiscally responsible ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Here are my favorites:

  • Make your own Valentine’s Day cards. Use the $10-$12 you save to buy a bottle of wine you can share with your loved one.
  • If you really want chocolate, wait until February 15—when it is 50 percent off.
  • Check out a local park or sanctuary and go for a romantic walk.
  • Volunteer your time together for a favorite charity.
  • Check Groupon and Living Social for great Valentine’s Day deals.
  • Stay in and cook a gourmet meal for your plus one. The gesture will be greatly appreciated—no matter your cooking skills.

What fiscally responsible ways do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Tell us in the comments.

Lauren J. Sternberg, Communications Manager-American Institute of CPAs. 

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