According to Forbes in 2020, more than half of Americans planned to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Now, remember this was pre-pandemic and we’ve not yet seen any estimates for what that will look like in 2021. It was also estimated by Hallmark that those same Americans would send 145 million Valentine’s Day cards in 2020. Forbes said Americans spend over $25 billion dollars on the holiday alone.
If you’re struggling to make the connection from Valentine’s Day to banking, let me help you out. It’s expensive to be in love! It’s also expensive to follow the constraints of a modern holiday structure that is fueled by consumerism. Am I telling you that you don’t have to buy your sweetie a gift, flowers or chocolate this Valentine’s Day? That would be a no. I’m not in the habit of breaking up relationships over some heart-shaped chocolates.
What I am in the habit of doing is encouraging financial well-being, and there’s no better time like the present to point out a few ways you can save some money this holiday. Here’s my top three ideas for making sure you don’t break the piggy bank in the next couple of weeks.
Discuss your expectations ahead of time
Yes, I’m married. Ten years strong, actually. So don’t go thinking that we lack any sort of romance just because I’m encouraging open and upfront planning in your relationship. It’s important to know what your significant other expects on Valentine’s Day. Have you been married twenty years and just realized that you set the expectations rather high fifteen years ago? If so, I might not be much help, but if you’re suddenly struggling with money any time is a good time to discuss the expectations going forward. If you know that they’re expecting a grand gesture, but your budget is limited then you know you’re going to have to get creative to spend your budget wisely. If you’re like us, you might buy a card or make one and call it good. Sometimes you might make a card and then forget to give it to them entirely. Yep, I did that one year and he’s still with me, which brings me to…
Don’t forget and then grab a bunch of loot at the last minute to make up for it
It’s easiest to spend money, and a lot of it, when you don’t have a plan. So if you wake up, go to work, see the receptionist has a big pink and red bouquet and then realize you didn’t have anything planned for your spouse, then you’re at risk. At risk? Yes, for going by the grocery store and buying a half-wilted bouquet, two or three boxes of chocolates, a fancy card and maybe a stuffed animal too. All to show your enthusiasm and maybe to wash away any lingering guilt that you forgot. Not planning is dangerous…in any situation.
Don’t buy “all the kids you know” candy
This is probably going to be an unpopular opinion, or maybe a novel idea for some, but it’s not necessary to go all out and treat everyone on Valentine’s Day. If you know a friend who’s unattached at the moment it’s nice to let them know you’re thinking of them, but all the kids in town probably aren’t going to care one way or another that you didn’t buy them chocolate on Valentine’s Day, especially if you saw them four short months ago in October on another sugary holiday. Candy is expensive. The same Forbes article I reference earlier says that $2.4 billion is spent on candy alone.
And before you think I’m Dwight Schrute, sitting at home fielding calls from hopeful non-planners looking to buy a restaurant reservation I made months ago, just know that we like to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but we try to do it in a way that’s low-key and relaxed. We also tend to celebrate it on a day other than the 14th. Bonus tip! Buying flowers for your sweetie the week after the holiday, or going out to eat the week before is much more cost-effective than trying to get out and about on the 14th. Just a thought.
Good luck saving a few pennies this holiday! If you’re interested in the Forbes article from last year, it had some great advice for talking about money with your spouse, and can be found at https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2020/02/12/valentines-day-is-the-perfect-time-to-whisper-sweet-somethings-about-your-finances/?sh=172870804016