According to this article, a new study shows that men are projected to spend 500% more than women do this Valentine’s Day. Specifically, men expected to spend an average of $339, whereas women only planned on paying an average of $64.
And those men shelling out big bucks are going to be disappointed byn what they get in return. Apparently, they expect their significant others to spend an average of $211. I’ll just point back to that $64 figure.
Young millennials (23-29), interestingly enough, are the group that expected to spend the most, with 15% saying they expected to shell out more than $500 — and 18% expected their partners to pay $200 to $500. Those are some pretty high expectations, especially from a group that’s famed for struggling with crushing debt.
The article posits that it’s because they’re so tapped into social media, which can apparently heavily influence consumer spending. Maybe. Or maybe when you’re young you’re just more romantic and therefore more likely to spend. Or perhaps, broadly speaking, youth and financial prudence just aren’t the best bedfellows.
The breakdown of spending by generation and region is pretty interesting, so definitely go check out the article.
Of course, if you guys are reading this blog then I very much doubt you’ve bought into the spend culture. So here are some good ways to avoid the Valentine’s Day gouge.
Set a (low) dollar limit
If you want to give gifts on a limited budget — whether that limit is internally or externally imposed — set a low dollar amount (think $10) for a fun challenge. Stores like Ross or even Dollar Tree can offer some fun and/or kooky gifts for a low price point. Heck, you could even hit the thrift store to really challenge yourself to find something worthwhile but cheap.
Buy discounted gift cards
Check out Gift Card Granny to get big savings on GCs to restaurants, movies and more. Right now, you can get 19% off AMC gift cards at Card Cash. And restaurant gift cards can be more than 20% off.
The best part? A lot of gift cards are now e-codes, which means you can purchase and use instantly. That means that you can decide where you want to eat that day, then buy the corresponding gift card.
Worried about using discounted gift cards? (You shouldn’t be. They’re guaranteed for at least 60 days. But if you are…) Buy GCs at the grocery store for extra fuel points. And Costco/Sam’s Club members should check the gift cards section of their stores, which often have $100 worth of gift cards for $80 to various restaurant chains.
No matter where you buy, be sure to use your rewards credit card to get an extra bang for your buck.
Or better yet, trade in some rewards points from programs like Swagbucks to get free gift cards. Swagbucks usually has a two- to three-day turnaround for gift card fulfillment so there’s still time to cash in!
Don’t want to go to a chain restaurant? Cash in for a PayPal payment to help subsidize that dinner out.
Go to the cheap house
If a movie is a Valentine’s Day staple but you don’t want to mess with gift cards, check out the second-run movie theaters in your area. These are films that have left the traditional theaters but haven’t come out on video yet.
The offerings can be pretty good. I often find movies that I meant to see while they were in the first-run houses that I just never got around to. Meanwhile, tickets are usually $3-4, which is a lot better than the $10 you’ll pay at a traditional theater.
Most restaurants and bars still have happy hour on Valentine’s Day, so why not take advantage?
Meet up directly after work to hit the specials. You can pretty easily make a meal out of appetizers, and those drink specials could make a little holiday buzz more affordable.
There are great deals to be had at local restaurants, and plenty of activities to indulge in. There are even tickets to local plays, comedians and more. Check out the offerings for cheap fun/food! The only caveat: Be sure to check for any date restrictions at restaurants. I doubt they’d specifically single out Valentine’s Day, but you never know until you check.
Be sure to go through Mr. Rebates for 6% cash back!
Think outside the bouquet
This one is actually inspired by a Twitter follower (@Saving4XtraRice) who gets a live plant on Valentine’s Day and anniversaries.
A plant is probably going to be cheaper than most bouquets you can find. Even if the price is the same, you’re going to get more bang for your buck. Why? Cut flowers wither. Plants — if you’re better with them than I am — can last forever. They’re a long-term reminder of the thoughtful present, which adds extra value to the money you spend.
Delay a day
You’ll be able to get much more bang for your buck on February 15th. Think of all the boxed chocolates you can scoop up at 50% off. (Delay a week, and those boxes will go down to 70% off.)
In addition, restaurants won’t be as crowded, which means less of a wait when you get hungry.
And if you like giving flowers, then February 15th is your day. Flower prices will have returned to normal. In fact, any unpurchased roses might even be on special.
Want to celebrate on Valentine’s Day proper, but don’t want the crowds? An intimate dinner for two at home sounds like a lovely (and affordable) way to reconnect romantically.
You can shop the sales for a nice cut of meat or make your loved one’s favorite dish. You can even cook together for more time one-on-one. Or let one person do the cooking for the other as the gift.
Pro tip: Grab a cookie sheet and melt some chocolate in a pan, and you can even surprise your loved one with the seemingly-decadent chocolate-dipped strawberries.
Then watch a movie on Netflix or Amazon Prime. (Or “splurge” on an Amazon rental — using Swagbucks Amazon GCs, of course.)
There’s nothing saying that you have to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Tim and I generally ignored it, and while our love story may not inspire much confidence (what with the divorce and all) I can say unequivocally that a lack of Vday was not our downfall.
So don’t feel pressured into celebrating romance on one specific day. Heck, you can even do what I did one year as a single gal and have an anti-Valentine’s Day. I rented the least romantic movie I could find (Saw — after all, blood is red) and made spaghetti (again, red for Valentine’s Day). It was enjoyable, delicious and thoroughly unromantic.
How do you save on/celebrate Valentine’s Day?