By Erin Lowry, US NEWS.
IT BEGAN AS A FLUKE. The young man and woman had to spend their first Valentine’s Day apart. The lovebirds decided to celebrate the holiday on Feb. 15. The man then showed up at her door with his arms full of chocolate boxes, stuffed animals and flowers. “You didn’t need to do this,” she said – kindly of course. “It was all heavily discounted because Valentine’s Day was yesterday,” he smirked. So, a tradition was born. The couple continued to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Feb. 15. Not only would their dollars stretch further if they wanted to indulge in themed gifts, but they didn’t have to pay a love tax on an evening out.
Other money-conscious couples should partake in a similar ritual by following these four tips for a fun but frugal Valentine’s Day (on Feb. 15, of course).
Take advantage of the fire sales. The term “fire sale” might often be used when referring to a company facing bankruptcy, but it’s the best way to describe the beauty of shopping for Valentine’s Day goodies on Feb. 15. Local florists, drug stores, big-box retailers and the like will begin deeply discounting all of cupid’s goodies. Giant teddy bears, roses, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and romantic cards will all be on sale – even as high as 75 percent off (or more as the week goes on).
For people whose paramours enjoy giant stuffed animals and can never get enough chocolate, why not agree to celebrate on the evening of Feb. 15? The money saved on buying regular-priced trinkets could go toward a killer date or other financial goals.
Enterprising parents will also use this time to stock up on Valentine’s Day cards for their elementary school-aged children to pass around next year. Just keep it generic (puppies, kittens, footballs and baseballs) because who knows which teen band or Disney channel star will be relevant next year?
Be certain not to buy any jewellery in the week or two leading up to Valentine’s Day. Instead, be thinking of the future (next year anyway) and snag some jewellery for Valentine’s Day during the post-Christmas sales in late December to early January.
Don’t get trapped into expensive prix fixe menus. Restaurants start booking up for Valentine’s Day weeks in advance. Many of these so-called deals offer a prix fixe menu, some of which even nix the a-la-carte option entirely, knowing it’s a day people are willing to overpay for small plates on candlelit tables. In New York City, prices can range from a more “affordable” $75-per-person menu to hundreds of dollars per guest – with a hefty cancellation fee. Some restaurants even have a limited schedule in order to turn over tables for the next flock of lovers waiting to feed each other bites of sinful chocolate cake.
Ditch the dining-out scene by cooking together at home or find a favorite local establishment that isn’t forcing couples to pony up HK$1,000 per person. True rebels can have a similar dining experience at the same high-cost restaurants for a lower price point the very next day.
Get an evening alone – later in the week. Not only is the cost of dining out expensive on V-Day, but couples with children have to deal with the run on baby sitters. Unless a couple has a regular nanny, the average neighborhood teen watching your kid probably got booked weeks in advance – or has his or her own Valentine’s Day date to attend. Not to mention that couples who ante up for the luxury of a night in a hotel get hit with holiday pricing.
Instead of duking it out with other couples for a baby sitter or paying a love tax for a hotel room on Valentine’s day, just push a romantic evening together to later in the week.
Those committed to celebrating their love on Feb. 14 should be sure to book a baby sitter before dinner plans, just in case there is a cancellation fee and no dateless (or money-driven) teenager to mind their kids.
Don’t get suckered into feeling badly. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the like will begin exploding with photo captions exclaiming, “He loves me so much!” along with pictures of jewelry boxes, flowers or the occasional clever gift. Hold fast in the decision to celebrate on Feb. 15, even if it means posting #humblebrag pictures 24 hours after everyone else.
Or be a true Valentine’s Day rebel. Deciding to opt out of Valentine’s Day consumerism doesn’t have to be about taking a stand against a “Hallmark-created holiday” (even though it’s really the celebration of a martyred saint). Instead, it should be a day to reflect on shared love (or celebrate platonic or familial love). This rebellion can be accomplished by deciding to ditch the gift route entirely. Spend the time together with loved ones doing a mutually enjoyable activity, whether it costs money or not. Double Valentine’s Day rebel points if it’s free.