January 18, 2011

Ways to Save on Valentine’s Day

valentine's day Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays.  Each year I enjoy sending cards to friends and family, telling them how much they mean to me.  I enjoy making some kind of special treat for my sweet and wonderful husband.  Last year was the first year our daughter really got into the holiday, and it was so sweet watching her excitement as she opened cards and goodies from her fellow classmates after school.  For us, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of friendship just as much as it is a day for sweethearts.

I’ve included some ideas on ways to save money for Valentine’s Day, and I encourage you to leave notes in the comments section if you think of some tips that I’ve missed. 

Correspondence—The Valentine card is one of the symbols of the holiday.  If you don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in any other way, at least send a card.

  • Use email—There are many online companies that offer free greeting cards that can be sent to a friend or relative’s inbox.  You’ll save postage and you won’t have to lick any envelopes!
  • Opt for postcards instead of cards—I’ve told you all that the first Christmas our daughter was born, I was too overwhelmed to mail anyone Christmas cards.  I decided that instead of pushing myself too far to worry about holiday cards that we would get a jump start on mailing out Valentine’s greetings.  I had a little photo shoot with our daughter in one of her Valentine’s onesies, and my Hubby cropped the photo and sent it to Walgreens for printing.  I included a short greeting to each person, and the response was amazing.  More people wrote, emailed and called us about those cards than they have about anything else we’ve sent.  For many of our older relatives, this was the only Valentine they received, and they talked about what an unexpected and pleasant surprise it was to get mail that wasn’t a bill. 
  • Buy in bulk—Many greeting card companies offer boxes of assortments of Valentine’s cards.  You’ll pay a little less than you would if you were to buy each card individually.
  • Shop at the dollar store—Many dollar stores offer cards for 2/$1 or less.
  • Shop for next year—You’ll see a reoccurring theme in most of my posts about saving money for the holidays.  I encourage you to shop a year ahead.  Right after Valentine’s Day watch for deep discounts and stock up then.  Card stores like Hallmark don’t always discount their cards, but you might find some cute ones at Target or Walmart that are on sale.
  • Make your own—This is especially great for the kids.  What is more fun than a bunch of glitter, glue, some doilies, scissors, construction paper and a little time?  OK, maybe you are right, someone else to clean up the mess would be good.  To reduce the mess, lay out some newspapers on the table and when you are done, scoop everything up to recycle.

Sweets—Are you salivating at the thought of decadent chocolate?  Whether you are buying a sweet treat or making it, whether it is for school or for your sweetheart, sweet treats are a must.

  • Use coupons and watch for deals—I almost always buy candy at drugstores because if you wait for a RR or ECB deal, you’ll get them for free or very cheap. 
  • Buy basic—I have some Yummy Earth organic lollipops that I bought in bulk through Frontier right before Christmas. Because they aren’t marked with Christmas decorations, I’m not limited in how I use them.  I decided that giving each of our daughter’s classmates one would be a slightly healthier, better for the earth, allergen free choice.  Last year, I bought a couple of cases of fruit leather at Three Rivers Market and she gave each of her classmates one of those.
  • Know your price points—My Hubby loves those Reeses holiday candies--for Christmas they make trees, for Easter they make eggs.  I know that 3/$1 is just about the best price that I can buy them, and when I see them at that price, I’ll pick them up.  When they are 99cts each or even 2/$1, I wait patiently for the sale.
  • Sign up for the Godiva rewards program—Ok, ok, this isn’t going to get you far with a gift, but having a good quality piece of chocolate once a month is good for your health.  Don’t hold me to that last claim, I completely made it up, but I still think that it sounds like it should be true.  ;)
  • Make something homemade—I’ll be making my Hubby some cinnamon rolls for Valentine’s Day (shhh, don’t tell him).  He’ll like this much more than anything else I could buy at the store.  Bake up a big batch of cookies and bring some to your neighbors or drop them off to friends at work. 

The date—Many couples enjoy a night on the town for Valentine’s Day.  Are you one of them?

  • Go out on a different date—I remember when Hubby and I were dating and we went out for Valentine’s Day.  We waited at a restaurant for over an hour and that was with call ahead seating!  While we didn’t mind the wait too much at the time, I don’t think it was too  many holidays later that we decided to go out the night before the 14th to celebrate instead.  This year the 14th falls on a Monday, meaning that you can pick Friday night, Saturday night, or Sunday night for your date and celebration.  You won’t save money this way, but you might save time and frustration. By choosing a date night other than the 14th, you’ll be more likely to find a baby sitter, too!  If you are asking a relative to baby-sit as a way of saving money, be sure to bring back a special dessert or another treat for him or her as a thank you.
  • Restaurants—Use my restaurant tips here for some other money saving strategies.  Watch for Groupon and other group buying sites for deals at restaurants.  Some may exclude Valentine’s Day, others may not.  Be sure to read the fine print.  Sign up on Facebook or at the restaurant website for e-newsletters.  Many restaurants have specials, 2-for-1 deals, and other incentives for the holiday.  Watch for coupons in the newspaper and other mailings or, if you are local, look in the Knox County School Coupon book for them there.
  • Do something different—Go bowling or skating, take a hike together during the day and pack a picnic, or visit the site where you first kissed or where he proposed.  Think of non-traditional ways to celebrate your relationship, and you’ll most likely save a little money.
  • Sign up for discounts to the movies—most movie theaters now offer some kind of discount club.  Get online and sign up—you might receive coupons or points that you use towards freebies.  Be sure to also sign up to “Like” the theater on Facebook or sign up to be a Twitter follower.  Regal, one of our local cinemas, for instance has different coupons available on Facebook from the ones that they send in the e-newsletter.
  • Go during the day—When you go out to eat for lunch or brunch instead of supper, you are going to save some money.  When you go to a matinee instead of the evening show, you’ll save at least a few dollars on each ticket.

The gift—Exchanging gifts with your sweetie can be fun, but not if it busts your budget!

  • Set a budget for gifts—this goes for all gifts that you give by the way.
  • Jewelry—Many men like to give jewelry as a gift for Valentine’s Day.  If you have some gold to sell, you might ask the jewelry store about store credit in exchange for your gold.  If your jewelry store doesn’t buy gold, go to a separate gold buying store first.  Go vintage-- By shopping at antique or estate shops you’ll sometimes find absolutely remarkable pieces for a fraction of the cost at jewelry stores.  Shop online or on TV--  I had a friend who used to work for Jewelry Television, and she said that she was continuously impressed with the quality of their jewelry and price. 
  • Comparison shop—If you have a particular gift in mind, shop around until you find the best possible price for it.  As with any other buy, if you can find a way to use a coupon, do so! ;)
  • Don’t give gifts—Hubby and I decided not to give gifts to each other this year.  We are going to put the money we normally would have spent on gifts in our Disney fund for our trip later in the year.  This only works if both of you decide to keep up your end of the bargain and not buy the gift. 
  • Do something homemade—My friend Honor told me once that the one gift she knows that her hubby will always appreciate from her is hand-knitted socks.  She puts love in each stitch, and he’s happy to receive them.  Think about what you are good at making and consider how you could use that as a gift.
  • Lingerie—There are tons of sales going on for lingerie.  Victoria’s Secret’s Semi-Annual Sale is on its last week.  Lane Bryant and Catherine’s have had recent sales on bras and undies.  Sign up for e-newsletters and on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the newest sales, deals and coupons. 
  • Flowers—You might be surprised at what great florist services you’ll find at Kroger.  I’ve been impressed at the prices and value of the arrangements I have bought there.  When shopping at local stores, order early to make sure you can have your flowers or balloons delivered.  Ask the person who answers the phone for their best deal or if they are running any specials.  Tell the florist your budget WITH taxes and delivery fee so that he or she can help to make sure you get what you need.
  • Wrapping paper—remember all of that solid colored red wrapping paper and tissue paper I encouraged you to buy after Christmas?  Now is the time to use it!  Watch for after the holiday sales to stock up on pink, white, pastels, roses, and other wrapping paper or gift bags that can be used for other gift giving occasions.

The Kiddos--Get the kiddos involved and have some fun!

  • Crafts—You’ll find an endless stream of craft ideas and freebies on parenting websites and in parenting magazines.  Search “free Valentine’s crafts” and you’ll have a ton of options from which to choose.  For more grown-up crafts, you can look on the Martha Stewart website for some great ideas.
  • Books—Check out books about Valentine’s Day from your local public library for a free homeschooling lesson.  Choose love or friendship themed books for storytime and talk about what it means to be a good friend, brother/sister, etc. 

What other tips or ideas do you have?  I look forward to hearing more!  I hope that you and yours have a very happy and love filled Valentine’s Day!

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