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Today, I have an awesome article to help with the upcoming expenses of Valentine’s Day, written by Liz Salierno.

It’s that time of year when love is in the air. As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, our thoughts turn to matters of the heart and questions about how to celebrate the day without breaking the bank. Lucky for you, we have some excellent ideas to make this Valentine’s Day a frugal and festive event. Cue the violins…

Pennywise and Personal Gifts

  1. Get a bargain on some bling. Seek out vintage jewelry rather than head to the mall. Consider semi-precious gems, birthstones or a simple silver locket with a meaningful photo inside. These pieces have character, and you may be able to score a great deal at a thrift or antique shop. Have it engraved with a special message to personalize the gift. For an adorable presentation, hang a pendant or ring on a chain around the neck of a fuzzy teddy bear.
  2. Make something yourself. Create a photo or video collage (you can even have a photo blanket or pillow custom made), or burn a CD with a compilation of songs from special moments you’ve shared. If you’re artistic, paint a picture, write a song or create a poem as an expression of your affection. This kind of gift will be remembered and cherished long after the beauty of a bouquet fades into memory.
  3. Create a thoughtful themed gift. Does she love a relaxing soak in the tub? Make a gift basket with scented bubble bath, body lotion, lavender candles and a terrycloth pillow. Is he (or she) a little car crazy? How about a gift certificate for a hand wax and some fuzzy dice in a car caddy tied up with a big bow? You can create a themed gift around all sorts of interests, such as books, gaming, travel, gardening, sports, the beach, gourmet cooking and more.

Frugal Flowers

  1. Plan ahead. The giving of flowers to a sweetheart on Valentine’s Day is a timeless tradition, but one that has only gotten more and more expensive in recent years. Red roses have become a staple in the Valentine’s Day bouquet, but the cost can spike up considerably on the holiday. If you want to go the red rose route, consider setting delivery for Feb. 13th instead, and you could save on delivery surcharges and make sure the flowers are enjoyed for the entire day on Valentine’s Day, rather than run the risk of a late delivery (not to mention it proves that you planned ahead!) But the best part is creating delicious anticipation by including on the gift card a teaser for all the wonderful things you have planned for the big day!
  2. Renounce red roses. Why not stand out from the crowd and save money by eschewing red roses and selecting a different bloom altogether? Send your sweetie’s favorite flower instead of red roses and you can save substantially — orchids, tulips, daisies, or whatever flower she favors can stand in for red roses on the special day. Consider an all-pink mixed bouquet or any arrangement in her signature color. And if you’re using Valentine’s Day as the day to pop the question, go big and bold by selecting a small sapling and telling her that you can’t wait to spend the rest of your lives watching it grow together.
  3. Personalize the presentation. Pick up a bouquet at your local market and arrange the blossoms in a unique container like a tin, basket, cookie jar, teapot, box or watering can. By placing flowers in a small waterproof vessel first, you can use almost any container to display your arrangement and make your bouquet as unique as your loved one.

Money-Saving, Memorable Meals

  1. Consider dining in. A fancy dinner out on the town is on the schedule for many couples on Valentine’s Day. But how about a romantic indoor (or outdoor, if temperatures allow) picnic as a romantic alternative? The advantages — no crowds, no bad service, no long waits for a table, and no big tab to pay at the end! So spread a blanket on the living room floor, light up the fireplace, pop open a bottle of wine and be sure to include on the menu foods to feed each other by hand — is it getting a little warm in here?
  2. Heat things up in the kitchen. It’s as easy as cooking up some homemade pasta. Pasta is a popular and inexpensive meal that’s easy to prepare (just be sure not to overcook). Light some candles, cue up some vintage Sinatra, add a red-checkered tablecloth, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, a nice bottle of Chianti, some oven-baked garlic bread and cannoli with chocolate dipping sauce — now, that’s amore!
  3. Pay less for lunch. Have your mind set on a meal at a fancy restaurant? Schedule a late lunch instead, when prices are lower and then head out to a movie or jazz club afterward. Another way to save on the tab is to go to a restaurant where you can bring your own bottle of a favorite wine rather then ordering off the menu. Be sure to ask ahead, however, if this is permitted.

Crazy Romantic Bonus Tip

  1. Create an amorous adventure. Make a Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt by hiding sweet surprises throughout the house with clues to follow. You can place a chocolate bar under the pillow, a love letter on the kitchen table, a framed photo in the cupboard or hang a little trinket from the dining room chandelier. With each new gift, leave a hint for the next. For example, a note that says “your love is the best medicine in the world” can lead to a surprise hidden in the medicine cabinet. After all, love is the greatest adventure in life, so create a little adventure for your love this Valentine’s Day.

This article was contributed by the US Equity Advantage team, written by Liz Salierno.