Matter out of place

Personal finance weblog focusing on debt management and credit card debt

My Funds-challenged Valentine

I know the routine. As February approaches, I have to start thinking about what I’m going to do for Valentine’s Day. I have a special situation. My girlfriend’s birthday is on the 5th, AND I have to do something just nine days later for Valentine’s Day. This really takes a toll on my finances. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about love, but we have turned it into a winter shopping spree, similar to another major holiday. In fact, Valentine’s Day is 2nd only to Christmas in greeting cards sales.

Americans spend an average of $95 per household on Valentine’s Day, according to International Mass Retail Association. That’s really big business. But what about those of us who don’t have the funds to make extravagant plans for Valentine’s Day. Are we cursed? Doomed to never meet the standards set by all the rich people in America? It’s not fair, and there is something we can do about it (besides boycotting Valentine’s Day).

Try something different this year… a gift from the heart

“Many people do not realize that gifts with personal meaning do not have to be expensive,” said Kelly Rote, communications manager for CCCS. “Consider expressing your heart in a way that is meant to be remembered and treasured.” While this sounds corny, the sentiment is really what Valentine’s Day should be about.

Just like everything else in America, we use money to try to express our emotions. When we can’t show up for little Johnny’s soccer game, we buy him a new Xbox game. When we forget the anniversary, we buy jewelry to make up for it. When we are angry with people, we give an attorney lots of cash to sue them. All this spending is hurting our nation by hurting our relationships. We have begun to equate spending with love. “The more you spend, the more you must love me” is the general sentiment. What a load! However, we can fight back. Just be creative.

There are plenty of ways to express your love for someone. The easiest, and one of the most meaningful ways, is to use your talent’s to do something nice for the love of your life. I intend to help my girlfriend with the design of her business cards. It may not sound like much, but it saves her at least a couple hundred dollars, and it will be a conversation piece. She can say “My boyfriend made these for me,” and people can marvel at the many talents of her wonderful man. This may seem a bit harder if you are an investment banker or a real estate developer, but if you are one of those, you probably don’t need to save money on Valentine’s Day. Just send your secretary out to get something creative. For the rest of us, there are other ideas at the “change your entertainment habits” section of Reduce your Spending. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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