Valentine’s Day gets a bad rap, doesn’t it? It’s supposed to be a day for celebrating bonds with people we care about, and yet the prevailing motifs that surround this most romantic of holidays are largely focused on conspicuous consumption and spending. There’s unfortunately become a stigma attached to the idea of a “cheap date” – especially in the FOMO-driven climate of social media, no one wants to look like they’re not keeping up with the proverbial Joneses when it comes to lavish displays of affection.
What are us hopeless romantics supposed to do if we’re trying to keep our personal finances in order when the delivery of Cupid’s arrow often comes with a large price tag attached? For some, the whole practice of a V-Day celebration has fallen out of favour: according to the American National Retail Federation, barely half of respondents in a recent survey plan to celebrate with their Valentine this year (a significant drop from previous years, especially among the 18-34 and 35-54-year old demographic segments.) Ten years ago, this figure was closer to 60%.
Among those remaining celebrants, however, spending is going up. Between 2009 and 2019, the average amount consumers planned to spend on Valentine’s Day gifts increased by $60, to about $160 per gift. Couples who are planning a romantic dinner out are expected to spend an average of $95 doing so. Even the lonely hearts out there are likely to splurge on items for themselves: more than a third of those under the age of 35 who say they are not “celebrating” still have plans to treat themselves to some retail therapy this February.
For those who are keen to both show their romantic sides as well as their keen money management skills, all is not lost. Some more low-or-no-cost ideas for your Valentine might include:
- Having a cozy movie night in (Netflix and chill, anyone?)
- Taking a trip down memory lane – revisiting favourite photos, old haunts, or special moments from your time together.
- Going on a scenic walk, hike, bike ride, or other favourite way of exploring.
- Forgoing the dinner out and spending time making a delicious meal to share.
- Writing romantic letters to one another (my partner did this with me one year, it was lovely!)
- If you’re on your own, get together with friends for a game night/potluck/fun activity of your choice – don’t let the expectations for romance get you down!
The only limit is your imagination! Remember, the “Hallmark Holiday” isn’t as important as the value of the time you can share with someone you care for.