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The Worst Cheap Valentine's Day Ideas

By (view all posts by pmiller)
at 9:15AM Thursday February 9, 2012
under Holidays

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, which of course means that blogs must fill their quotas of Valentine's Day posts. There's nothing wrong with that. It also means that money-saving blogs must get their yearly Valentine's Day money-saving ideas out of the way. The problem is that the basics of how to have a frugal Valentine's Day aren't terribly mysterious. And, in the never-ending quest to produce original content, some otherwise good blogs wind up posting some bad tips.
Photo courtesy of garlandcannon, via Flickr.

In the interest of having a fun, romantic Valentine's Day, and not a ridiculous and terrible one, read one to discover the worst allegedly-cheap Valentine's Day ideas out there. And, of course, read on to find some common-sense, tried-and-true alternatives.


"Play Hooky" Together

The Idea: Over at Bargaineering.com, you'll find a list of nine low-cost Valentine's Day ideas. Topping the list is this gem: Instead of going to work, take the day off and spend some quality time with your significant other. If you have kids, they'll be in school and you won't need to spring for a babysitter.

The Problem: Babysitters sure are expensive. You know what else is expensive? Losing an entire day's income. Or two days if your partner also works for hourly pay. I have to wonder why the author stopped at just Valentine's Day. If you both just quit your jobs, then you'd never have to pay a babysitter again. Talk about saving money!

A Sane Alternative: On the same blog entry, number four on the list is "Cook Dinner Together." This is a great idea. Eating in is almost always cheaper than eating out, even if you buy top-notch, fancy ingredients once in awhile. Plus, cooking at home can be fun and romantic even if the meal doesn't turn out perfect. Just think of the lobster scene from Annie Hall.


There is Such a Thing as Too Green

The Idea:
The Daily Green is a blog devoted to frugal, environmentally-sound tips. This is an honorable calling. Unfortunately, number three on their list of Cheap Valentine's Day Gifts leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I'll let the author explain: "Remember, it's only re-gifting if you believe it's re-gifting (or, in the case of intimate apparel, if it's been worn for more than one night)."

The Problem: At the risk of creating controversy, I'm going to go out on a limb: Lots of things are true regardless of whether or not we believe they are. If your car is on fire, it will still be on fire even after you turn your back and imagine a pristine, non-burning automobile. And, further, underwear that has been worn-- at all-- is not new underwear. This is an immutable law of the universe.

If you read on, you'll see that the author is in fact suggesting that you dig up lingerie you've given this person in the past, wrap them up, and give them again. This is arguably less creepy than it appears on first glance. Still, it's hard to imagine the recipient feeling something other than disappointment or confusion. At best.

A Sane Alternative: Number one on the same list is easily the most clever. Instead of celebrating on Valentine's Day, when roses and chocolate are priced as if they were made of precious metals, try picking another day to show your love. You and your partner can either agree on a day in advance, such as the day after Valentine's Day, or you could surprise him or her with gifts a week or two before. With the added element of surprise, this might make the frugal alternative even more romantic than a more traditional Valentine.


A Valentine on a Plate

The Idea:
Meanwhile, over on About.com, you'll find another list that is simply titled Cheap Valentine's Day Ideas. This list couldn't make it past number two without a half-baked idea. The author suggests making a meal out only items that are heart-shaped, red, or both. Need some ideas? How about, "red velvet cake, valentini martini, fruit and cheese salad or a heart shaped cake."

The Problem: I'm sure that list of examples isn't exhaustive, but it's hard not reading it as a meal that consists of cake, sugary booze, sugary salad, and then more cake. Those two conditions, that that every item be heart-shaped or red, pretty much kill the possibility that you'll be enjoying a balanced meal. Are we expected to cut a piece of meat into the shape of a heart? Should we dye the chicken red? There's no way to solve this puzzle without part of the meal being disgusting. That is, unless a diabetes-inducing all-you-can-eat cake buffet is an option.

A Sane Alternative: Number four on the same list is more modest, and less nauseating: Write a love letter. That's it. It doesn't cost a thing, and it never goes out of style. Sometimes, the best way to have a cheap Valentine's Day is to just not go out of your way to spend money. It's only as difficult as we choose to make it.

Have your own (reasonable) ideas for an inexpensive Valentine's Day? Please share in the comments.