What’s the frugal, financially independent way to celebrate Valentines?
First, break up with your significant other so you don’t need to buy a gift. Then sit in your home in the dark, eating ramen and mooching off your neighbors internet.
Kidding, of course!
The real key is to bring the meaning back into the day. Let’s talk about some ways to do that.
What Not To Do
The easy way to “show you care” is to spend money on stuff. But the stuff has no meaning. Here’s what spending on overpriced stuff for Valentines might be saying to their significant other:
-I stopped at Walgreen’s and got you a card printed in China, that someone else wrote, for five bucks. Because I realized driving home from work that Valentines was tomorrow.
-The overpriced flower display in the grocery store reminded me that Valentines was coming, so I bought some of the stuff they had out.
-You’re worth money, but not my time.
-I don’t know what you really would like, so I got you shiny rocks. Their shininess shows I care…enough to spend money on you. But not enough to get to know you.
I know, some people like getting stuff. And some gifts are expensive but thoughtful.
In my case, though, I don’t like stuff. It doesn’t make me happy, and it doesn’t fulfill me. I would much rather have time, attention, and thoughtfulness than flowers that will die next week. Or rocks harvested from mines with the blood of others.
What To Do
I wrote about some ideas last year, in an article that has awesome advice from a number of personal finance bloggers. You can go here to check it out. So I won’t repeat all that advice, but will instead talk about some of my favorite things to do. Don’t worry, this isn’t a listacle, it’s just the things we find fun and I think you will too.
Make A Craft
This is a fun one, at least I think. This past weekend my younger two boys went to Home Depot’s Kids Workshop and made some fun Valentines themed bean bag tosses. These were free, but you can also pick up paint-your-own crafts for kids at AC Moore, Michael’s, etc. for a dollar. You could also make something yourself, it doesn’t need to be a kid thing. Making something – whatever it is – shows you care.
Make A Treat
Long time readers know that I’m big into baking for fun. I make elaborate cakes for my kids birthdays (like a Minecraft 3D TNT cake or a Totoro cake). I also like making and decorating sugar cookies for various holidays. It’s easy and inexpensive, fun for kids and adults, and tasty. All the cookie cutters have been picked up at tag sales, or at post-Valentines sales where the stores put everything on fire sale. You can easily make a Valentines themed cake, even if you don’t have heart-shaped cake pans. Just use circular pans and cut them into heart shapes. I’ll give you my sugar cookie recipe & tips at the end of the article, in case you’d like to make some.
Turn The Store-bought Into Thought
My husband last year for Valentines did something I thought was perfect, and it didn’t cost much at all. He picked up a box of some of my favorite truffles (I do like chocolate) for the day. But instead of just gifting me the box, he wrote tiny little thoughtful notes and placed a note under each truffle. So as I ate the chocolates, I also had these tiny little notes to open. I thought it was the best idea, and I still have the box with all the notes. Although the chocolates are long gone.
Now, I’ve never considered myself to be much of a writer. I probably shouldn’t say that anymore, but it’s honestly true. But writing something yourself and gifting it to your significant other shows you care. You took the time to think of and write something thoughtful, meaningful, and personal. Stumped to think of what to write? Try thinking about these subjects, and writing down what comes to mind.
-When I think of you, I think of…
-When we first met, what I most remember is…
-My favorite memory of us is…
-What I love about you most is…
You can also refer to a book or website about romantic poems either for inspiration, or to select and write out a poem that has special meaning to your relationship. No need to spend five bucks on a card that will go into the trash when you can write something meaningful that will likely be kept for years.
Go Somewhere – Do Something – Free
There are so many free, fun things you can do. If you live in a warm climate, have a picnic in a park. You can always get library passes to local museums and attractions. You can also research what free options are available in your state, or area. In my state (Connecticut) I was able to find enough fun and free things to do that I made a whole page about it.
What to look for to find free things to do in your state, assuming you don’t live in Connecticut?
–Colleges. Local colleges often have free museums, or things to do. Several of the things on my CT list are really museums attached to Yale or UCONN.
–Free Days. Most museums have at least occasional free days or evenings. Sometimes it’s the last weekend of the month, other times a slow evening – always check for museums free days.
–Parks and Beaches. This is a no-brainer if you live in a warm climate, where you can go to a park year-round without shivering like crazy. But even if you live in a cold climate like I do, there are some parks or beaches that have (heated) buildings attached to them that you can visit. Check around in your area.
–State Buildings and Monuments. Sometimes your state will have free tours of interesting buildings, museums free for residents, or monuments you can check out. Do some Googling and I bet you’d be surprised what you find.
I Want Your Ideas!
Add on to my list with your suggestions on a fun and frugal Valentines day. And don’t forget to go go here to check out ideas from last year from the personal finance community.
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P.S. The Promised Recipe – Valentines Sugar Cookies
Just in case you want to take that sugar cookie idea for yourself, here’s the recipe. Decorate however you like! I like to go to the aforementioned craft stores and pick up packets of sprinkles for fun. For the coloring, I use paste food coloring that I buy once every few years. That stuff lasts forever! And I use it multiple times per year for cookies, cakes, and the like. The link to the food coloring is an affiliate link, but you can also pick it up at the craft stores, usually with a coupon.
Feel free to share the recipe – it’s delicious!