|Nancy Twigg is a speaker and author who loves inspiring others to live more
simply. Adapted from Nancy’s newly revised book, Celebrate Simply: Your
Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions (www.celebratesimply.com).
Visit Nancy online at www.countingthecost.com
Does Valentine’s Day have to be expensive? Not at
all. Let me tell you a story of how my husband and I had one of the best
Valentine’s Day celebrations ever by limiting ourselves to spending $10 or less.
About ten years ago, my husband Michael and I
both left good jobs to begin a home-based business. Within a matter of weeks, we
went from two comfortable salaries to one sporadic stream of income from our
fledgling business. On the first Valentine’s Day after we became self-employed,
we both knew we shouldn’t spend much on our February 14th celebration. So we
agreed to try something different. We decided to set a $5 spending limit per
person for our Valentine’s Day gifts.
To a spendthrift, a $5 spending limit on
Valentine’s Day would have been like the kiss of death: "What can I possibly buy
for only five dollars?" For us, it became a game: "What kind of cool stuff
can we come up for with less than five bucks?" Both of us enjoyed the challenge of
searching out items that would fit the bill.
Michael is a woodworker, so for him it was easy.
He used his time and only a little money to make me a beautiful oval frame for a
wall mirror I already had. He used wood that was salvaged from discarded packing
crates, 25¢ paint from a yard sale, and plans he drew up on his computer. The
only thing he had to go out and buy was a dowel for putting the frame together,
which cost only 76¢ at the hardware store. The end result was a beautiful mirror
that hung proudly in our bedroom for many years.
For Michael, I found a desk calendar that had a
different quote about love for each day. Because it was February, the calendar
was on clearance for $4. I also found a woodworking book at a library discard
sale for 50¢. In addition, I made him a homemade card and a plate of his
favorite cookies. When you add the cost of the cookie ingredients I already had
on hand, I actually went over my limit just a little, but he was delighted
nonetheless. In fact, we both enjoyed our gifts and the thrill of the hunt so
much that we instituted the five-dollar rule for other gift giving occasions
such as birthdays and anniversaries that year as well.
Are you and your loved one going through a tough
time financially? Even if you’re not, is the thought of saving money more
attractive to you than spending a small fortune on Valentine’s Day gifts? If so,
I encourage you to try something different this year. Take the Valentine’s Day
Challenge. Set a small spending limit—$5, $10 or whatever fits your budget—and
agree with your spouse to give gifts that are low in cost but high in
Use any special talents you have to create a
keepsake. Put your cooking skills to work to whip up an
inexpensive-yet-irresistible treat in the kitchen. Shop the clearance racks to
find some special something your sweetie would enjoy. Visit the secondhand
stores to find a gently-used book by a favorite author or CD by a favorite
artist. Use your budgeted amount to buy a gift card to the ice cream shop,
coffee shop or movie rental store.
Think outside the proverbial box. Make it a game
to see how you can use your creativity to give your sweetheart the most
Valentine’s Day fun for the least amount of money.