Saying ‘I Love You’ for Less

by Jan Roland

Saying I Love You for Less photo

It’s not how much you spend on your sweetie. It’s what you say with your gift. We explore some ways you can say I love you for less.

This is one of the many Valentine’s Day tips we’ve received from our frugal readers over the years:

This is for the frugal romantic. Last Valentine’s Day I had a tiny budget to work with. I went to the grocery store and bought gladiolas (the cheapest flowers I could find – but very beautiful). I cut red tissue paper into hearts to look like rose petals. I also bought strawberries and grapes. I got out all the photos of the two of us and taped them to the wall in a trail leading to the bathroom. The bathroom walls were filled completely with more pictures. There was also a bath drawn, waiting for his homecoming and fruit to feed him. It went over very well!

Sandy sure has the right idea. It isn’t how much you spend on your sweetie. Instead, it’s what you say and how you say it.

Of course, not everyone uses Sandy’s methods.

According to Hallmark, we’ll exchange 145 million Valentine’s Day cards. Only Christmas generates more greeting cards than Valentine’s Day. According to the, the average consumer spent $192.80 for Valentine’s Day in 2023. Wow! That’s a lot of love!

But chances are that Sandy made a bigger impression than any box of candy would have made. That’s because her gift emphasized what they shared together.

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Highlight Something Special in Your Past

Creating the perfect gift is a matter of thinking about the person who will be receiving it.

One way to create a successful, frugal Valentine is to highlight something special in your past. Begin by taking some time to think. Pull out your memories instead of your wallet. What were your partner’s happiest moments? Are there special events or secrets that you share?

Finding a way to commemorate that time or event is the fun part. You don’t need to be very good with words to write a love letter or poem. It’s the memory that you trigger that’s important. Not your choice of words or whether the poem rhymes. Trust me, you won’t get a “D” on this assignment!

Celebrate All the Things You Love About Your Valentine

Another possibility would be to celebrate all the things you love about that special someone. Everyone likes to hear good things about themselves. And, who better to tell them than someone they love?

You can present those thoughts in a variety of ways. Try anything from a recorded message to a series of notes that your valentine will stumble across during the course of their day. Again, eloquence isn’t necessary. You can be pretty sure that your grammar won’t be critiqued.

If your mate is a social media person, you can use Facebook or Twitter to share your love for them. Or maybe send them a virtual heart via text three or four times during the day.

Recreate a Special Event

Some events can be recreated.

Return to the spot of that special picnic or lovers’ lane. Or listen again to the music that you shared before. Just one or two elements from a special time will rekindle wonderful memories.

Use the Element of Surprise

A second way to create a memorable Valentine’s Day is to use the element of surprise. Most of us have an expectation of when, where and how we’ll receive our Valentine’s gift. Surprising your partner is an inexpensive way to add excitement.

Lunches offer a wonderful opportunity. If you typically prepare your mates lunch, it’s easy to do something special for your Valentine. Their favorite foods, heart-shaped sandwiches, candy kisses, or a special note are all inexpensive. Even if you don’t prepare the lunch, maybe you can get to the lunch box before it heads out the door.

Celebrate Valentine’s Days, Not Day

Sometimes, you can spread your surprise out over a number of days.

For instance, you could deliver flowers one at a time. Or text a poem one line at a time. You could send one line every half-hour until the poem was completed. You might even want to start a day or two before Valentine’s Day and take days to complete the message.

Give Your Valentine a “Heart Attack”

Another possibility is to give that special someone a “heart attack.” No, not where you call 911.

Rather, put a flood of hearts in their car, bedroom or office. Simply cut out or print dozens of paper hearts. Overwhelm them.

So, like Sandy, don’t be afraid to avoid the expensive flowers, cards and candy. A little thought and effort could create the best way to say, “I love you.”

Why not do something memorable for that special someone this Valentine’s Day?

Reviewed January 2024

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