Money-saving ways to celebrate Valentine's Day together
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Showing you care on Valentine’s Day shouldn’t drive you into debt.

It may seem surprising, but Valentine’s Day is not even in the top three when it comes to expensive U.S. holidays. According to a report last year on CNN Money, the day of love came in fourth to the Winter Holidays, Mother’s Day and even Easter. Still, the National Retail Federation says we’re about to have a near record breaking year in 2018. Spending is expected to reach $19.6 billion. That’s second only to spending in 2016 over the 15 years that the NRF has tracked spending. The articles in this section can help you save money on Valentine’s Day gifting and celebrating. Learn about weird trends, like Singles Awareness Day, and see how much other significant others plan to spend. You can find Debt.com’s Top 5 money-saving tips below the articles.

Debt.com’s Top 5 Money-Saving Valentine’s Day Tips

#1: Self-gifting gives you the gift of debt

Singles Awareness Day is an anti-Valentines twist on February 14. More than one in four consumers who say they won’t celebrate Valentine’s Day say they will self-gift.  They’ll either buy themselves something nice or treat themselves to a day out of pampering.

If you aren’t into the celebration of love, then skip it! The best way to be against the day of love isn’t to spoil yourself, it’s to ignore it entirely. Giving yourself credit card debt for Valentine’s won’t make you feel good. It will make you feel worse because now you have a debt to pay off.

If you want to be anti-Valentine, just stay home. And if you really want to stick it to Valentine’s celebrants, hit up Netflix, HULU or your DVR to find some great anti-love movies or head to Spotify for an anti-love playlist. Use entertainment that you’ve already paid for to stick it to cupid.

#2: Your pets don’t know what Valentine’s Day is

Valentine’s Day spending isn’t breaking records because people are going overboard for their significant others. It’s out of control because Americans feel a need to spoil everyone they know for every holiday.

Here’s a breakdown of average gift spending per consumer:

  • Spouse / significant other $88.98
  • Family $25.29
  • Children’s classmates/teachers $7.26
  • Friends $7.19
  • Pets $5.50
  • Co-workers $4.79

If you plan to gift, only give to your loved ones who are sentient enough to know it’s a holiday. Buying cute themed toys and outfits for your pets may make some great Instagram posts, but it probably doesn’t fit your budget. Skip your pets and trim down your list as much as possible.

#3: Baking beats candy

If you can’t help yourself and need to gift everyone you know, then find a way to do it cheaply. You can make your best baked goods or even make homemade chocolate candy, if you have a knack for baking. If you’re already a baker, you may only need to buy a few ingredients. Making homemade gifts says you care a lot more than an expensive box of Godiva. You took time to do something from the heart.

If you’re not a baker, then consider other homemade and handmade gift ideas. Buy fun size candy and tchotchke at discount stores or wholesalers. Then make gift bags for everyone. You can knock out teachers, co-workers, classmates and friends all with their own personal gifting grab bag. Again, this keeps costs down versus trying to give individual gifts to each person.

#4: Most people would rather have experiences anyways

According to the MRF survey, six in ten people would rather receive a gift of experience over something material. But only four in ten people plan to give a gift of experience. Of course, gifts of experience can get expensive, too. If you buy front row concert tickets it could cost an arm and a leg.

However, gifts of experience can be simple (and cheap). Recreate a memorable moment from your relationship, plan a picnic in the park, take a stroll on the beach together (if you happen to live on a coast). Sometimes the simple things that you put thought into are worth more than diamonds.

#5: If you’re young, you’re probably overspending

Average per person spending for 2018 is $143.56. But if you’re age 25-34, you plan to spend a lot more. Average Millennials will shell out over $200 – $202.76, to be exact. If you’re already married, that means you could end up spending twice that as a household. And, considering you probably have student loan debt and credit card debt to repay, there are better ways to use the money. Why not decide as a household to make an extra student loan payment instead of adding to your credit card debt.

If you’re not married, talk with your significant other to set a price limit on gifts. You could also just follow the advice of giving a cheap gift of experience. Despite what commercials and banner ads keep telling you, you don’t need jewelry to say I love you.

When is it good idea to pull out plastic for Valentine’s Day expenses?

You should only use credit cards for Valentine’s Day purchases if:

  1. You can earn rewards by doing so
  2. Those rewards won’t be offset by interest charges

This means that you need to use a rewards credit card that has a zero balance. Here’s why – credit card interest charges do not apply if you start and end a billing cycle with no balance. If you start the month at zero and then pay of the purchases you make on your February bill, no interest charges apply. This means you don’t offset that 1.5% cash back you earn with 22% APR.

Check online to see if your credit cards offer any special Valentine’s Day purchasing incentives. You may have higher discounts on certain purchases or if you shop online using that card. This way, you get a little something for yourself without self-gifting. Just be aware that if you don’t make your charges interest-free, then any rewards you earn – even 5% cash back – will be offset by interest charges within 2-3 billing cycles, max.