Not everyone feels obliged to give flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s Day. You get to decide what is most important to you and your special person.

cost of valentine's day

The Cost of Valentine’s Day: Just Say No

CEE Standard: Saving

Not every student has the money to go all out on Valentine’s Day for their friends or significant others. Help them understand the social pressures of any commercial holiday, and that they either can choose not to engage at all or to celebrate in a meaningful way without spending a lot of money.

Couples feel compelled to buy each other expensive gifts every February 14th. But what if there were an easier way to save money?

Valentine’s Day comes once a year, and you might be out looking for the perfect gift for your special someone. Sadly, most couples give in to Cupid’s insidious grasp and succumb to our consumer culture, feeling obligated to buy expensive gifts. Sometimes you might feel pressure from your significant other to show your love in a materialistic way.  The cost of Valentine’s Day – on both your wallet and your psyche – can be brutal.

Without a lot of planning, you might find yourself scrambling to figure out how to pay for the cost of Valentine’s Day: the gifts and dinner you probably shouldn’t have bought in the first place.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Why does societal pressure make us act like marionettes — mindlessly accepting that a box of chocolates, a bouquet of red roses, or an emerald bracelet is the way to demonstrate our love or affection? Plus exchanging expensive gifts and having dinner at an overcrowded, pricey restaurant on February 14 doesn’t sound more stressful than romantic to me.

Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or our birthdays, my partner and I don’t buy each other obligatory holidays gifts. Before you call me a horrible partner, hear me out!

Why? We stopped because we quickly realized that these holidays had become a chore. We had to buy things we normally wouldn’t in the fear of disappointing each other.

We anguished over a thoughtful gift. But since we bought what we wanted after we saved up enough to pay for it, finding that perfect gift was tedious.

How to Discuss Valentine’s Day With Your Significant Other

That all changed when we candidly sat down and discussed the senseless gift-giving on most holidays. We quickly realized that we didn’t care if we got the obligatory Valentine’s Day card and chocolates. At that point, we decided to end the madness. You can, too.

Just have a good talk with the person you are dating, or even with friends who might expect a gift. Decide together what makes financial sense for you individually and collectively and define how you can show each other how much you value the relationship without expensive presents.

Now, my partner and I both talk in advance of every holiday and make a game plan. Does the lack of surprise and spontaneity take the thrill away? We don’t think so.

Rather than spend money on things that don’t matter to us, like flowers and jewelry, we can now save money on something we desire, like a fun vacation — or better yet, our future. In most cases, that’s exactly what we do. The cost of Valentine’s Day can be transferred from a meaningless gesture to something that actually matters.

Besides, if we really want some Valentine’s Day candy, it’s half off starting February 15!

On rare occasions, we will decide to participate in a holiday like Valentine’s Day. When we do, it makes that holiday even more special because we don’t feel the dread of going out and buying the same thing year after year. Instead, we come up with something thoughtful and enjoy the fact that, for this particular year, we decided to do something different.

You and a friend, or your significant other, might decide to treat each other to a concert or a comedy show. Creating special memories with an experience can mean more than any gift!

Warning: Don’t Try This Without Talking in Advance

Whatever you do, don’t surprise your boyfriend or girlfriend by not getting them a gift this Valentine’s Day and use this article as your reason. You’ll end up in the dog house — I guarantee it.

Also, don’t succumb to peer pressure. I know someone who was buying gifts with three other friends. The group did not discuss a spending limit. One friend spent $10 on the friend she was paired with and thought her gift was fun and thoughtful. Yet the following year a $20 gift minimum was created by the other three girls. 

It sent a message that anything less than $20 wasn’t good enough. It also didn’t take into account the financial pressure some of the group might be experiencing. Bottom line: Be grateful, considerate, and not a jerk! Communication and kindness with your partner or friends is key before you’d normally start shopping for the next holiday present. Find out if he or she truly enjoys the holiday.

If it turns out that you’re both giving each other presents due to societal pressure, and not because you enjoy it, then I suggest stopping the practice.

Your friends and family might look at you like you’re from another planet, but it doesn’t matter what others think. If you do what is right for you and your people, you’ll be happier (and wealthier) in the long run.

And meanwhile, let’s teach Cupid a thing or two about real love.

Check List

  • Do you think spending lots of money on your significant other on a holiday like Valentine’s Day is important?
  • Do you believe your love for your partner is demonstrated by the amount you spend on them? Do they?
  • Would you feel less valued if your boyfriend/girlfriend or your bestie didn’t get you a gift?
  • What are some free things you can do this Valentine’s Day that shows how much you really care?
  • Are you crafty? Could you make a gift your special someone would love?