Personal Finance

Kat’s Money Corner: Don’t go broke in the name of love

Half Dozen Pink Champagne Strawberries
Half Dozen Pink Champagne Strawberries TNS

Valentine’s Day is upon us and so are overpriced boxes of chocolates and cheaply made plush teddy bears. Bouquets of soon-to-be-wilted flowers are hot commodities, and there may not be an open reservation in town on Sunday. Or a normal priced meal, for that matter.

Can you tell I’m not a romantic?

Well, that’s not totally true. I just prefer a memorable experience or handmade gift to costly, perishable items. I also like to find ways to get the kids involved. But, for those who are in the market for a bit more romance, it can be difficult to resist expensive menus and persuasive diamond commercials. Fret not – I’m here to help.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Budget

Now is not the time to empty your savings. If you have money allocated for gifts or miscellaneous shopping, feel free to use it as you see fit, but do not stretch your budgetary limits in the name of love. There are plenty of inexpensive options for Valentine’s Day that will demonstrate your thoughtfulness. For example, if you and your significant other enjoy seeing movies, plan a night at the theater in your own home. Head to Redbox for a $1.50 movie rental, fill a basket with your favorite candies and just enjoy the time together.

Also, keep in mind that you do not have to buy or make a gift for everyone. Pick a few “valentines” (for me, it’s my husband and boys), and focus on finding a small, meaningful gift specific to them. Your parents, girlfriends and babysitter will understand.

Why buy, when you can DIY?

Instead of opting for a stuffed animal that will be gifted to thousands of other people, make something truly one-of-a-kind. My personal favorites include filling a jar with “reasons I love you” notes, making a sharpie mug with a sweet or silly message, or crafting a photo block for your kids’ rooms or spouse’s desk. Consult sites like Pinterest or DIY blogs for budget-friendly inspiration.

Another special yet highly underrated option is cooking a meal at home. It may not seem unique or romantic since most of us eat at home nearly every night, but this truly can be a fun, memorable experience. Splurge a little on the ingredients, and make something more challenging than your typical spaghetti recipe. Set the table with some festive DIY décor and put on a playlist with your favorite songs for a more romantic vibe. Or, make it a family-friendly breakfast with Disney sing-alongs followed by your kids’ choice of animated flicks.

If you want to take your significant other on an experience outside of the home, you’re in luck. Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday this year, so you have an entire weekend to plan activities. Fortunately, Kansas City also has quite a few free experiences to offer.

Don’t blow your budget on run-of-the-mill, cliché gifts. There are many ways to be budget-conscious and still spoil your loved ones this year. The effort you’ll put into making something by hand, cooking, or planning a day full of activities will be so much more valuable to your special someone than that bouquet of chocolate roses.

Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens or visit http://communityamerica.com.

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