With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I am reminded of what a special treat it is to get tokens of love and appreciation from a loved one, but I also know that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Years ago, when we were young and living on a tight budget, my husband and I agreed that we wouldn’t spend money we didn’t have on extravagant gifts just because of the date on the calendar. We’ve always found that any time we got to spend together, alone, was a treat. But we also discovered that, there were still little way we could splurge to make a day special, while remaining within our budget. Here are three tips on how to “splurge” smart on Valentine’s Day or any other special occasion.
Every girl likes to get flowers, but they are expensive, and live roses don’t last long. Instead of ordering a large, prearranged bouquet, you can purchase cut flowers and a vase and arrange them yourself. You can add cute little “ornaments” to match the occasion. How great will it feel when the recipient says “They are beautiful” and you can say, “I made them myself!!” That will mean even more! The same goes for candies. I buy the regular candy—not the specially packaged candy for that holiday–and put it in my own bowl/bag/box that I decorate myself. You can save a fortune with a little time and creativity making your own chocolate covered fruit baskets or cookie platters, too!
2. Save gift cards.
With Valentines Day about six weeks after Christmas, we set aside a restaurant gift card that we receive on Christmas, and use it for our Valentine’s dinner out. You can do that for any occasion, as long as the gift card doesn’t have an expiration date. Our anniversary is in May, and we’ve held onto gift cards to nice places until then. It helps to enjoy the occasion when you’re not stressed about the dollar amount you’re spending.
3. Celebrate on a different day.
Speaking of our anniversary… I had always wanted to go on a cruise. But that was not in the budget! Until… I got one of those solicitation calls saying, “You’ve won a cruise!” Normally I’d hang up. But I thought, let me see what this is all about! So I listened to the spiel, and if my husband and I would just go sit through a presentation, with no purchase necessary, we’d get cruise tickets.
We were definitely skeptical, but what the heck! We are not easily pressured, so we knew that if we got there and it was a scam, we’d walk out. No problem. Now I won’t lie—they tried hard to get us to buy their product, but we stuck to our guns, and walked out with our free cruise tickets! Everything (airfare, transportation, food) was included, except for our entertainment/excursions off ship and souvenirs! We decided that was our anniversary gift to ourselves.
The first available voyage wasn‘t until November, but that was ok! When our 12th anniversary came around in May, we spent a quiet (FREE) evening alone—kids went to grandma’s, while we talked about our trip in a few months. Sometimes the anticipation of something is just as exciting as the actual event! To celebrate an occasion in an extravagant way, we don’t mind pushing the date back some. Getting sitters and reservations on specific holidays is usually more expensive, so we celebrate the following weekend, and save on money and stress, that way!
These are just a few of the ways we have managed to celebrate our holidays and special occasions over 15 years of marriage, while staying on budget. With some creativity and a little extra time, you too can find ways to commemorate special occasions without breaking the bank!