Don't look now, but Valentine's Day is right around the corner--and it can come with a hefty price tag. According to the National Retail Federation, the average male spends close to $170 and the average female spends about half that. Keep in mind these costs are for only one night of entertainment.
In order to keep your Valentine's Day date from taking a huge bite out of your checking account, consider these tips:
1. Stay at home. Not going out to eat with your loved one can be difficult to pull off, but you'll have a much easier time of it if you commit to making the evening special. Consider cooking your partner's favorite dish or dessert, and enjoy your meal in front of a fireplace with candles adorning the coffee table.
2. Offer services along with gifts. Instead of spending a ton on a romantic gift, partner a dozen roses with an offer of free services rather than on other expensive store-bought items. Maybe you'll offer to clean the house for a month, do the grocery shopping, or entertain the kids a few nights during the week. Your promise on V-day to put in extra effort in the future will score you brownie points.
3. Save on flowers. To save money on those precious tulips, it's crucial that you check all your options. Before I knew any better, I once paid $50 for a dozen roses. However, discount stores, such as Sam's Club or Costco, typically offer Valentine's Day roses at substantial discounts. Even stores such as Whole Foods Market can offer them for reasonable prices; I once purchased there a dozen roses on sale for $14.99.
4. Save on jewelry. When making a purchase from a jewelry retailer, haggle over price. Drive a hard bargain--and don't feel bad about walking away. Also, to get the best value start your shopping well in advance of the holiday. You may even want to consider purchasing from a pawn shop, where prices are typically half of what you'd find at a jewelry store. Furthermore, you may even be able to find a decorative gift box with which you can present your piece of jewelry. Ask to have your piece professionally cleaned, as many pawn shops have on-site jewelers.
Final thoughts. If your partner gets terribly upset because you didn't drop a load of cash on him or her for Valentine's Day, it may be time to sit down and have the money talk. After the holiday, sit down with your spouse and try to get on the same page financially to improve your relationship. Money is one of the leading causes of divorce, so if your somewhat frugal ways results in a huge argument, discuss your financial situation in depth. Saving money on V-day is important, but if an issue arises, don't ignore it.
What are your plans for Valentine's Day?
David Bakke is a contributor for MoneyCrashers.com, where he blogs about a range of topics including saving money, investing for the future, and even Valentine's Day date ideas.