Money Talks, So Should You

Jana Says: Alternative Valentine's Day ideas

Jana L.
by Jana L., Dimespring 30 (@saysjana)

I should probably preface this post by saying that I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. It was ruined for me years ago and, being the stubborn mule that I am, I refuse to partake in the tradition. This bothers my husband to no end, but he’s come to learn that the best present he can give me is no present at all. It’s hard to explain to our daughter but, well, we’re working on that.

That said, I know I’m in the minority. Couples everywhere are preparing to celebrate this wondrous day of love — a day where the money spent becomes a reflection of how much love there is between a couple. The more money you spend, the more love there is. Right?

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I say wrong. There are plenty of ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day without spending a ridiculous amount of money (contrary to what jewelers across the country will tell you). For instance:

Make a gift. Thanks to Pinterest, there is an abundance of homemade Valentine’s Day ideas. While you’re watching TV one night, take a few minutes and search for them. Find one that’s a) at your skill level; b) in your budget; c) works with your time constraints; and d) is the most meaningful to you and your loved one. It can be as simple as a card or as complicated as a ... well, I’m not very crafty, but I’m sure there’s something pretty complicated out there. Your loved one will appreciate the time and energy you spent putting it together, making it all that more special.

Cook together. If you have kids, wait until they’re in bed and then cook a meal or a dessert together. Spend time prior to Valentine’s Day looking for a recipe that you both can enjoy and works well with two people cooking. My husband and I have done this, and something that works really well is fondue. It’s simple, inexpensive and, because it takes so long to eat, it gives you time to talk and bond. This intimate time spent together is more meaningful than dropping hundreds of dollars on a restaurant meal. It’s quieter, too.

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Talk to each other. Instead of buying each other little trinkets that, under normal circumstances would cost a fraction of what they do around Valentine’s Day, take an hour or so to just talk to each other. Tell each other what you love about them. Make a couples bucket list. Plan a vacation. Play a board game (unless you fight during board games. Then I don’t recommend this idea). Borrow one of those “365 Questions for Couples” books from the library and take turns asking each other questions. You never know what you’ll learn. Not only is this completely free, talking strengthens and reinforces a relationship. Especially in these busy times when carving out time for a relationship is increasingly difficult.

If you’re going to celebrate Valentine’s Day, make it special. Don’t do what everyone else is doing. And, if you’re on a strict budget, there’s no need to deviate from the budget or your debt repayment plan for one day.

Besides, shouldn’t we tell our loved ones that we love them every day and not just one?

Jana is a freelance writer and founder of the blogger mentoring program Bloggers Helping Bloggers. She's also the creator of Jana Says, a general lifestyle blog discussing money, life, family, pop culture and everything in between. Jana is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on personal finance.