Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Tips to Save Money on Valentine’s Day and Year-Round

I recently participated on a panel for a Twitter chat titled How to Spend Valentine’s Day on a Budget, sponsored by Experian. Below are some tips that I shared in response to the questions:

¨      Dine Out for Less- Eat at a national chain restaurant that does not raise its prices just because it is a holiday. Dust off unused restaurant gift cards that are still lying around since the holidays or time-shift and eat out on February 13 or February 15 or 16. Avoid local restaurants that jack up prices on holidays “because they can” and use restaurant coupons, if allowed. Some may have “fine print” that excludes holidays. Also, consider going out to lunch or breakfast, instead of dinner, if you both work at home or at nearby jobs. It is cheaper.

¨      Give Frugal Gifts- Examples include a bottle of wine (can be as little as $3 a bottle at some supermarkets), a handmade card with an original poem, graphics, and/or photos, and a playlist of someone’s favorite music for a CD or MP3 file. Other ideas are to make a flower arrangement with cut flowers from a supermarket and a vase from a thrift shop and make your sweetheart’s favorite meal and/or a special dessert at home.

¨      Don’t Pay Full Price- Take advantage of flash sales, newspaper ads, online promo codes, coupons, retailer and restaurant rewards programs, and other money-saving tools. Also, if you have accumulated credit card cash-back rewards money, you can cash out to buy gifts and restaurant meals that are essentially “free.”

¨      Do Low-Cost Activities- Consider hiking on a nature trail or visiting a local park or beach (weather permitting). Both are free or low-cost. Also look around for local events in public places. Check out Eventbrite for a list of events in your area. If cold weather or snow has you stuck indoors, stream a movie or rent a DVD from Redbox or a public library and curl up on the couch together.

Bottom Line: It is possible to celebrate holidays on a budget. Do something that you both like to do and remember the “small stuff”: smiles, laughter, handholding, etc., all of which are free.

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