This year, Cupid's bow is aimed straight at American's bank accounts, with 31% of U.S. adults expected to spend between $200 and $300 on Valentine's Day, according to TD Ameritrade. Another 64% will spend up to $100.
Maybe it's due to the improving economy and maybe it's because love conquers all -- even the most disciplined household budget -- but there's really no good reason to overspend on Valentine's Day. There are other just as creative, romantic, and effective ways to celebrate the day with a loved one, if you're so inclined.
Where to start? Try these heart-happy ways to warm your honey's heart on Feb. 14, and still keep an eye on the old bank account.
Go Groupon. Check out sites like Groupon for some amazing Valentine's Day date ideas, say Kelan and Brittany Kline, founders of The Savvy Couple web site. "You'll not only get some ideas on what to do but often save a ton of money at the same time," they point out.
Have Valentine's lunch, not dinner. A good way to cap meal costs on Valentine' Day is to enjoy a romantic restaurant lunch, instead of dinner. "Lunch prices are usually about a third lower than dinner rates," says Janet Alvarez, a personal finance expert at Wise Bread.
Track good deals beforehand. Use an hourly mobile or online price tracker that finds money saving deals on Valentine's gifts that other digital sites miss, says David Mercer, a business and money blogger at SME Pals. "That helps you quickly compare items on price, current discount, historical price-change trends, and ultimately find the best deal and save money," he says. For example, a site like RankTracer.com tracks Amazon (AMZN) prices (among other retail platforms) on an hourly basis, and covers Valentine's Day specials on chocolates and flowers.
Buy your flowers at the grocery store. This is no knock on floral shops, but the reality is that flowers are significantly less expensive at your local grocer than at a high-end flower gift provider. "If your significant other is a flower lover, pick up your flowers at the grocery store and think outside the roses box," says Katie Segner, a lifestyle blogger at tulsadetails.com, that specializes in floral arrangements. "Tulips are in season and are just as beautiful as roses. They'll cost about $12 for 10 stems. Just wrap them up in some tissue paper or place them in a simple vase for a beautiful presentation."
Time to use those holiday gift cards. Make that dinner reservation early and research the best places that may be offering deals for the holiday, advises John Petosa, professor of accounting practice at Syracuse University. "If you have leftover restaurant gift cards from the holidays, use them. It's not re-gifting, if you spend it on yourself, too," he says.
Create a budget and honor it. Decide how much you want to spend on Valentine's Day and stay below it, Petosa adds. "There's nothing wrong with creating a budget and sticking to it," he adds. "You have other opportunities to spoil your significant other during the year."
Aim for gifts below $20. You can shop smart and still score on Valentine's Day favorites for $20 and under, says Alvarez. "Great gifts under $20 include gourmet rubs and seasoning mixes, bath salts and luxury soaps, scented candles, and romantic photo albums," she says. Stop off at the grocery store or pharmacy for lip balm, a coffee mug and/or greeting cards on the way home.
Your true Valentine won't want you to break the bank this Valentine's Day. Just keep it real, keep it creative and keep it cost-conscious, and let Cupid aim his arrows at someone else's bank account this year.