Money can’t buy love

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, people tend to fall into two camps. On the one side, you’ve got your traditionalists, who always have Feb. 14 dinner reservations—or at least exchange gifts. Then you’ve got your non-believers—people who write off V-day as just another holiday invented by Hallmark, ala Mother’s Day and Grandparent’s Day.

I used to fall squarely into the first camp. It wasn’t so much that I was materialistic or enjoyed wasting money—I just like a good excuse to dress up. So I’d make my boyfriend get reservations a month ahead, buy a brand new outfit (probably some new makeup to go with it) and get him a card and small gift. When the day came, we went out to a nice (albeit, pricey) restaurant and then maybe to a movie. And of course, he’d buy me stuff. In all, it probably set the two of us back a couple hundred bucks.

I never had a problem with the notion that Valentine’s Day might have been created to sell cards. Fine, cards are a couple bucks a pop. But I’m finally starting to accept what I’d been denying: that it’s morphed into a much bigger, scarier industry than just cards. Between clothes, shoes, makeup, fancy lingerie, haircuts, jewelry, roses, candy, and teddy bears, the average couple could blow a small fortune for Feb. 14. And there’s nothing romantic about going broke.

With the economy in shambles, I can’t waste a dime. But I don’t want to give romance up for good! So I’ve come to a compromise.

Rather than peg Valentine’s Day as a total fraud, I say we should make it about love. Get back to the heart of the matter, if you will. And maybe buying a bunch of commercial stuff isn’t the best way to show your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse that you love them. If today’s economy has taught us anything, it should be to find meaning in every purchase we make—otherwise, we shouldn’t make it.

So consider cooking your sweetie a homemade dinner and dessert—something chocolate, perhaps?—and picking out a DVD at home (you know you have a ton that you never watch!). Do you live near the city? Sometimes taking a stroll downtown can be romantic—and free. And if you happen to walk by advertisements beckoning you to come into the jewelry store or chocolate shop to drop big bucks? Just ignore them.

I’ll admit that cutting costs does take discipline—but I bet it’s less painful than you might imagine. For a wealth of ideas to get you started saving, try our free Financial Toolkit. Think you’re beyond help? Nonsense. It’s never too late! Give us a click or a call at DebtStoppers. With our free debt analysis, we’ll work out a personalized plan to get you out of debt (and save your house, too!).

Saving money isn’t impossible. Nor is it boring. When you’re forced to search for ways to indulge, it makes the indulgences you are able to partake in all the more sweet.

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