Saving Money

A Guide: How Much to Spend on Your Valentine

How much you spend on your Valentine is not a measure of how much you care, nor does it mean that expensive gifts are more meaningful. Just like the handmade Valentine’s of our elementary school days – the best Valentine’s are ones that come straight from the heart.

Since we know you are budget-conscious, we’re going to assume that you must be wondering how much to spend on your Valentine this year. And we’re here to tell you that it is completely acceptable to use how long you have been with your partner to determine how much you spend for the big day of love.

In our latest Twitter Poll 55% our community agreed that money can’t buy love. In other words, it’s okay to focus on gifts that are thoughtful: investments of time, acts of generosity and gifts that show creativity are by far most valuable.

Don’t let the holiday or blind love get you off track! Here are some guidelines to help you celebrate the one you love, like or just met.

Less than a month

No need to go over the top here, but don’t ignore the holiday. Keep it simple and lighthearted by acknowledging the day of love with a funny Valentine card or small gift, like a box of handmade chocolates from a local shop.

1 to 3 months

The above, plus…

You are at the stage where you definitely know you like each other, so move beyond simply acknowledging the holiday and do something to show you care. Cook dinner at home or go to your Valentine’s favorite casual dining spot – burgers, tacos, pizza are all delicious, and don’t have the inflated prices of a prix fixe menu at a restaurant.

6 months to a year

The two of you are getting serious, so the way you celebrate the holiday should reflect that. A Valentine card is in order here, and so are flowers. Pro tip: unless your partner’s favorites are roses, go with wild flowers or other seasonal flowers that aren’t marked up for the holiday – other types of flowers are equally thoughtful. Go back to where you two had your first date for drinks or dinner or, since you likely go to dinner together all the time, try something different like a cooking class, or something that is a shared interest. A cooking class is a great way to save – you get to cook together and a meal is usually included! Check out Living Social or Groupon for ideas and discounts.

1 to 5 years

Now you’ve got at least one Valentine’s Day under your belts – how do you make the next one special without breaking the bank? Take a day trip to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go together, or a place that holds a special memory for the two of you. Or try the sentimental route and handwrite a letter that includes all the reasons you love your partner – we never tell each other this stuff enough, and Valentine’s Day is a good day to remind each other why you’re in love. Cook a favorite family recipe as a surprise for an at-home candlelit dinner – bonus points if you contact your partner’s mom or dad to have them talk you through the recipe!

5+ years

You two are old pros at Valentine’s Day – you know if your partner prefers an elaborate spread or just a quiet acknowledgement of the holiday – so make your plans accordingly. But just in case you are out of new ideas, here are a few:

  • Surprise your partner with their favorite treat (cookie, cupcake, coffee, bottle of wine)
  • Have a photo book made with your best Instagram moments, try Artifact Uprising or Mosaic
  • Fill a mason jar with notes that say things like “I’m so lucky I have you” or “I love your smile”
  • Handwrite a note telling your partner why you’d still choose them if you had to do it all over again

Whatever you decide to do, do it from the heart and make it personal. Remember that the inexpensive gifts are the ones your Valentine will remember and cherish the most.