Avoid These 3 Valentine’s Day Spending Traps

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valentinesspendingYou’ve seen the pink and red displays, the cupid cut-outs and the boxes of chocolates already filling the store. “V-Day” is right around the corner, and if you’re seeing someone special, you’re likely already feeling the pressure to impress and express how much you adore your significant other.

Like any holiday, there’s pressure to spend. It’s easy to get caught up in the “more-is-more” mentality of Valentine’s Day, with the hopes of making your crush happy with grand (and expensive) gestures of affection. But you can still give your Valentine the “warm-and-fuzzies” without blowing a hole through your wallet.

1. Avoid: Roses

Don’t get sucked into buying that terribly expensive bouquet of red roses. Or candy. Or cologne. In fact, you should avoid any generic and overpriced Valentine’s Day gifts. Florists charge a premium for flowers this time of year and, in my opinion, other standard V-Day gifts are pretty cliché.

Alternative: A Framed Photo of You and Your Beau
Roses die, but memories captured in sturdy picture frames do not. It’s a cheap, memorable and very thoughtful alternative. If your girlfriend’s dead-set on getting roses, you can probably get away with buying her a single rose a few days after V-Day. Consider it a “bonus” gift, even after the holiday’s over. You’re likely to pay less money and surprise her with something unexpected.

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2. Avoid: Dinner Out

Many restaurants offer a special menu on Valentine’s day, and it’s often priced significantly higher than their standard fare. Competition is fierce when it comes to reserving a table at popular restaurants around Valentine’s Day, and you’ll be paying a premium price once you get there.

Alternative: Dinner In, Dessert Out
For me, nothing’s more romantic than my favorite meal, thoughtfully prepared by someone I love. It beats going out to a restaurant any day of the week, but it’s especially nice for Valentine’s Day. Cooking a meal together or treating your loved one to a home-cooked dish not only saves you money, but it’s a very sweet gesture. If you don’t want to be a homebody the entire evening, head out for dessert at a favorite ice cream shop or bakery.

3. Avoid: A Night at the Movies

Nothing brings everyone together like a night at the movies – which is why it’s definitely the place to skip on Valentine’s Day. The theater will be packed: newer releases will be packed with one-on-one dates celebrating V-Day and groups of single friends celebrating (or lamenting) their romantic freedom by going to the movies together. Avoid the crowd (and the cost) of seeing the latest film.

Alternative: Find a Free Concert in the Area
There’s no correlation between the amount of money you spend and how much you’ll enjoy an experience. Check out free concerts in your area – like jazz, classical or community theater. You certainly don’t have to go see the performance on Valentine’s Day itself. Just make sure you have the tickets ready (or announce your intentions to go) so that V-Day still feels special.

By avoiding three common Valentine’s Day spending traps, you will not only save yourself from an over-extended budget, but you may win some creative points from the one you love (or like a whole lot).