Love is in the air and the money is flowing like heart emojis. According to the National Retail Federation, the average American spends $221.34 on Valentine’s Day each year. That’s a lot of money to spend on a one-day celebration!
Lucky for you, there are ways to enjoy a romantic evening with your partner without going into debt. Here’s how:
Work with a budget
Instead of spending mindlessly and regretting it afterward, designate a budget for all your Valentine’s Day expenses, and be sure to stick to it. In addition to helping you keep costs under control, working out a budget in advance will allow you to choose how to spend your money. You may decide to spend more on a gift and less on dinner, or maybe you’d rather skip both of these and splurge on a fun activity instead. Best of all, a preplanned budget means there will be no regrets spoiling the memory of your special day.
Shop smarter with a sales app
Check out shopping apps, like ShopSavvy or PriceGrabber, to score deals on that dream Valentines’ Day gift. The apps help you compare prices at online and in-store retailers, locate coupons for items you’re searching for and even bring up cash-back options to put money back into your wallet. Why pay full price when you don’t have to?
Save on flowers
Did you know that Americans spend close to $2 billion on Valentine’s Day flowers each year?
Save on those beautiful blossoms with these tips:
- Shop for flowers at Costco, Trader Joe’s or Aldi. You’ll find great deals on fresh flowers that will outlast the cheaper ones you might find at street vendors.
- Don’t buy flowers online. They’re unlikely to last well through the shipping and delivery process.
- Use the food. The small packet of flower food that comes along with your blossoms will help them last longer and stay vibrant and fresh — but only if you use it.
Bring down your dinner costs
Don’t break your budget on a romantic dinner for two.
First, consider dining in. Yes, we know your kitchen table isn’t the hottest place in town, but you can find another area in your home and turn it into a special spot for a special meal. Consider laying down a blanket in front of the fireplace for a picnic-inspired experience, moving a small table into the living room or even setting up a cozy corner in a rarely used room in your home, such as a storage room or guest bedroom. Cook up a storm, or order in — you’ll still save on restaurant costs by forgoing beverages, gratuities and other add-ons you end up blowing money on when you eat out.
If you or your loved one are really looking forward to dining out, make it less expensive by learning how to beat the psychological tricks that restaurateurs play on diners to get them to spend more:
- Look left. Restaurant owners strategically place the most profitable items on the menu in the right-hand corner — the spot most people look to automatically.
- Say the price out loud. Notice the lack of dollar signs on the menu? It’s a trick to get you to spend more. Make the price real in your mind by saying it out loud.
- Ignore the decoys. Restaurants famously place popular dishes near ridiculously overpriced items on the menu to make diners believe they’re getting a great deal. Your weapon against this trick is to completely ignore the most expensive item on the menu.
- Dumb it down. Reading a restaurant menu can sometimes feel like reading French — even if you’re eating Italian. When choosing what to order, isolate the actual item on the menu instead of getting lost in all those descriptive phrases.
- Take no notice of negative space. Another restaurant trick that gets diners to spend more is to create a pocket of empty space around high-profit items on the menu. This draws the eye to where the restaurant owner wants it to go and gets you to spend more than planned.
If you dare, postpone your Valentine’s Day celebrations by a day or two for steep savings on all related expenses. You’ll find Valentine’s Day candy and greeting cards on clearance, gifts already marked down, and you won’t have to pay inflated restaurant prices for the same meal.
Use these hacks to plan the perfect Valentine’s Day on a budget.
Your Turn: How do you save on Valentine’s Day costs? Share your best tips with us in the comments.