True love is priceless, but why is Valentine's Day so darn expensive? Total spending for Valentine's Day is expected to reach $15.7 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. The average person will fork over $116.21 on Valentine's Day merchandise this year, which is a 12.8 percent increase over 2011. Prices for chocolates, roses and romantic dinners all seem to skyrocket just before February 14. So, we created this guide to help you aAre yvoid getting price gouged just for showing your love.
Millions of love birds will go out to dinner to celebrate Valentine's Day, but with crowded restaurants, long waits and inflated bills staying home may seem more attractive. A new Zagat survey found that Valentine's Day diners plan to shell out $147 on their hard-to-get table for two, compared to the $43.46 tab on an average night. Anna Platz of goodcentssavings.com suggests making a meal at home extra romantic.
"Even if you splurge on some extra special ingredients or a nice bottle of wine you're still likely to spend only a fraction of what you'd pay at a restaurant," she says. "Enjoy the process of cooking together and linger over a leisurely candlelit meal. If you have children serve them early and then enjoy an adults only meal after the kids are in bed or are watching a movie."
2. Try Handmade Greeting Cards
Some argue that Valentine's Day is a holiday created by greeting card companies looking to boost profits. And they definitely benefit. The NRF says we'll spend $1.1 billion on greeting cards this year, making them the most popular gift option. Rather than pacing the grocery store card aisle, try tapping into your creative side by making your loved one a handmade greeting card. Find inspiration at TLC.com where you'll find step-by-step instructions for creating a Stained Glass Heart card and other cool designs.
Chances are you'll score just as many points with your significant other whether you give them one beautiful rose or an entire dozen. "A single rose can be as meaningful as several dozen and a tiny box of chocolates gives just a few delicious bites, rather than a diet busting binge waiting to happen," says Platz. Studies show spending on flowers will reach $1.7 billion. Candy won't be far behind with $1.5 billion in Valentine's Day sales.
4. Pull Out Your AAA Card
You may think of it only as a resource when you have car trouble, but your AAA card can also help you save money on Valentine's Day purchases. According to company officials, last year AAA's 52 million members saved nearly $2 billion on hotels, jewelry, books, clothing and more, simply by using their membership cards.
"Most members are aware of the discounts available for planning a romantic getaway, but we are committed to providing additional benefits and discounts for AAA members on everyday expenses including gift giving for loved ones," said Gail Acebes, director, AAA Partnership Programs in a news release. Sample savings include 20 percent off your purchase at 1-800Flowers, 10 percent of fine jewelry at Blue Nile and 20 percent off FTD floral arrangements.
5. Break the Mold
Chocolates wrapped in red cellophane, a dozen red roses, heart-shaped pendents—they're all pretty predictable routes to take on Valentine's Day. And because of their popularity, there is a good chance you'll pay more for them this time of year. If you want to be romantic and frugal, try breaking the mold. Instead of chocolates, perhaps your sweetheart would like fresh fruit. Rather than overpay for red roses, give your loved one a plant that won't wither away. And instead of jewelry, try a hand-written letter from the heart. Love it or hate it, Valentine's Day is about showing your loved ones you care. But you don't have to spend a fortune to do that.
Find more gift ideas on our Valentine's Day coupon page!