It’s All About Love! Celebrate Valentine’s Day and Stick to a Budget

Ah, Valentine’s Day. What used to be a dewy-eyed date night for boyfriends and girlfriends, wives and husbands has turned into a colossal spend-a-thon for people. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Valentine’s Day is second in spending only to the Christmas shopping season.

Here’s how the stats break down for American spending last Valentine’s Day, courtesy of the NRF:

Average annual Valentine’s Day spending$17.6 billion
Number of Valentine’s Day cards exchanged annually$180 million
Average number of roses grown for Valentine’s Day$196 million
Percent of Valentine’s Day cards bought by women85%
Percent of flowers bought by men73%
Amount the average consumer spends on Valentine’s Day$126.21
Percent of consumers who celebrate Valentine’s Day61.8 %

Feeling faint? While your heart may want to spend a lot on your loved ones, your wallet probably tells you to stop. Spend a little time prepping and you can find some great deals and unbelievable savings. So, in the spirit of being generous but not too generous, we offer this thrifty shopper’s guide to a great Valentine’s Day:

Understand This

The retailers have you right where they want you. Floral retail outlets acknowledge Valentine’s Day as their busiest time of the year, and they’re not just selling flowers. Retailers of all sorts stock up on everything related to the big day many weeks in advance; having chocolates, pink and red clothing accessories, heart-shaped balloons and Valentine’s Day flowers handy helps drive sales as consumers pull out their wallets to express their love. Even family pets get in on the action – the NRF estimated that people spend about $5 on Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets as well.

Make a Budget

Naturally, determining exactly what you’re comfortable spending on each family member and friend is a good first step. Find a good budgeting app, determine what you can spend during this time period and make it work.

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Get a Gift Strategy

It’s time to strategize. Many retailers offer specials on candy, chocolates and jewelry in the days and weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, so peruse what’s on sale at your local discount retailer or at an online boutique. For him, search online to find great bargains on cologne, clothes, books the latest gadgets; for her, check out the multitude of makeup, lingerie, accessories and jewelry sites to find a great price on a gift.

Bring It Down a Notch

A great way to save money is to pare down the traditional Valentine’s Day gift-giving. Instead of a dozen roses, give her one. Instead of dropping $5 on a card, declare your love for him in a heartfelt letter. Light a candle and eat dinner at home that evening. Offer her a massage, no strings attached, or bake him a heart-shaped cake pops. There are lots of things you can do to observe the day without spending a small fortune.


Another idea is to book a photographer to snap pictures of you and your beloved, or have a friend take some of just you. A series of intimate boudoir photos delivered in a heartfelt way sends big signals about how attracted you (still) are to your mate. Whether it’s a bedroom pose with smoky eyes or an outdoor shot with arms and legs akimbo, a for-your-eyes-only photo for your loved one on Valentine’s Day is never a bad idea. Find local boudoir photographers online or post a “wanted” ad on Craigslist, and watch all the photographers come to you (and then bring down their price).

Valentine’s Day can be an exhilarating day for lovers of all ages, no matter what your budget is. It’s not how much money you pour into the day that counts, but how much of yourself you put it in.

  Discuss This Article

Comments: 1

  • Joe says:

    Just a note on the flowers part. I see you have included a link to FTD yet you speak about budget. By making your purchase of flowers through FTD, 800 flowers, AFS or teleflora you are getting 30% less for your money. Call a florist local to the delivery address and get a lot more for your money. Wire service companies not only have hidden “wire fees” but they charge the delivering florist 27% of the order. A good example: You call one of the wire services like FTD or place the order online and you’re purchasing a $59 item. at checkout you will see a $3.99 wire fee + $8.00 delivery fee = $11.99 so your order total is 70.98 + tax. the fee the florist pays is roughly $19.00 on this order. So the florist is only getting paid $40 for this order. the florist has a markup too so really your $70 item can be purchased by calling direct for around $40.00 + delivery which is usually cheaper then the wire services charge. Also watch out for order gatherers. People who have an FTD or wire service account but no physical location. they take orders and resend them for less then you ordered. you may want your $70 order delivered to NY from IL. but the order gatherer will send the order through FTD as a $50 order. The receiving florist makes the $50 arrangement and delivers and when the customer sees it’s only a 50$ order they complain, but the delivering florist only knows they have to make a $50 order. minus the 30% so you’re really only getting a $20 arrangement. I suggest people get online and find shops close to the delivery address and read the reviews on google to make sure they have an actual address. It will make everyone smile a little extra. :)

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