Celebrating Valentine’s on a budget

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VALENTINE’S Day is looming once again — love or hate it, some of us will be forced to entertain the idea of celebrating it with gifts and lavish meals although we all know that it’s really a business ploy to entice us to spend money buying things at prices that are greatly inflated just for this one day.

Originally called Saint Valentine’s Day, it was supposed to be a liturgical celebration for a Christian saint named Valentinus.

Sometime in the Middle Ages, it morphed into the celebration that we know today: the day when the most flowers are sold — in fact, flower farms around the world take in most of their profit of the year on Valentine’s Day — and which is such a massive moneymaker for greeting card companies, restaurants and supermarkets that it has become an important event in the yearly calendar.

live it! finds five ways to celebrate the occasion while saving yourself from burning a hole in your pocket.

1. Skip the greeting cards

Let’s face it — greeting cards are just pieces of cardboard with words inscribed inside, words that aren’t even written by you. Instead, write a letter or make a card telling your significant other just how much they mean to you, and how they change your life every day.

2. Don’t buy flowers or chocolates

Or if you absolutely have to, have an agreement with your partner to celebrate Valentine’s the day after or the week after. That way, you can still give each other flowers and chocolates without having to pay the ridiculous, jacked-up prices that stores charge for them on the day itself.

3. Cook dinner

Even if you’re not a good cook, try anyway! Get someone to teach you if you have to. Learning and trying hard take a lot more effort than just splurging on a fancy restaurant meal. It shows thoughtfulness and commitment — even if you fail spectacularly, it is sure to be a funny episode that you and your loved one will be able to laugh about years down the road.

4. Make new memories

Instead of spending thousands on gifts like jewellery and watches, take a quick getaway to make new memories. Consider a weekend trip to the beach or a cosy short stay at a quiet nature reserve — both are events you’ll remember for decades and they don’t have to cost as much as pricey gifts.

5. Get a memorable gift

No, not an expensive one, but a small, inexpensive gift that reminds you somehow of your beloved. Perhaps a miniature locomotive that takes you back to when you both met on a train somewhere in Europe. It’s thoughtful and shows that you not only remember, but treasure those memories.

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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on February 10, 2015.