Avoid Being Broke from Valentine’s Day

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Feb 11 2019 09:14 AM | Updated as of Feb 16 2019 09:50 AM

Consumers in search for Valentine's Day gifts shop at Dangwa, one of Manila's largest flower markets. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA -- Fewer Americans plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, according to the Washington-based National Retail Federation (NRF). But among those who said they plan to do so, the NRF-commissioned study showed they will spend an average of $161.96 or about P8,500.

In the Philippine setting, that’s not too bad considering a dozen roses will set you back about P2,500. Then maybe you also shopped for a gift (a decent one would be between P2,500 to P3,000) to go along with the flowers and cap the day with a romantic dinner (possibly P2,500).

But what I found shocking was the estimated $20.7 billion total spending for Valentine’s Day this year! According to NRF, this is a new high and will break the previous record of $19.7 billion set in 2016 by American consumers.

How is this even possible? Well, knowing consumers have money to spend, retailers are ready to offer anything from a 24-carat gold bag to a perfume in a bottle made with 16,500 Swarovski stones. And it’s not just the women that can be treated with wildly expensive gifts, reports CNBC.com. Their list included gifts for him such as a biometric briefcase and a mobile phone featuring hand-stitched leather you can also find in the interior of a Ferrari car.

Now we all want a memorable Valentine’s Day, but not if you end up in debt the day after. And with starving children around the world, spending billions to create romance for a day…it just doesn’t feel right.

The NRF commissioned Prosper Insights & Analytics to conduct the 2019 Valentine’s Day Spending Survey, and they polled 7,384 adults 18 and older from January 2 to 9 in the United States. So those billions actually cover Valentine spending only in one part of the world.

While making a great impression is nice, and sweeping your loved one off their feet is even better, being broke the next day is not romantic at all. Can you find an exciting middle ground? Yes, you can, and if your loved one cares for you and your wallet’s long-term health, he or she would understand. As you try to discover the best way to say I Love You this Valentine’s Day, here are 5 simple ways we suggest for you to experience romance on a budget.

You can be lavish…with romantic gestures!

Not everything romantic needs to be wrapped up in foil paper. If the price of roses is too steep, and you wanted to shower her with two dozen flowers, why not ‘make’ them yourself? Origami flowers are beautiful, and best of all, they do not wilt in a few days. Did you want to surprise him this Valentine’s Day? Instead of going out on a date and braving Manila’s legendary traffic, consider cooking an intimate dinner at your own home and if it looks like you have a future together, you can even invite your parents and his to join. True love lasts longer than one day, so no need to cram every experience (and expense too) in one day.

Instead of giving…what about giving up?

Days leading up to Valentine’s Day are usually filled with stress of what to give him or her that will show they are truly special. How about instead of giving, think about what you can give up for her or him? Do you smoke and your partner doesn’t? He or she may welcome the news that you will give it up and enjoy a smoke-less future. The sacrifice won’t come easy but it will not put a dent in your wallet, and most likely will pad it up because you are kicking off an expensive daily habit.

Say it best with a...greeting card.

In the same survey, NRF reported that the top 4 Valentine’s Day gifts are candy or chocolate, flowers, dinner and greeting cards. Forty-four percent of US consumers plan to buy a card, and will spend about $933 million total. That’s a lot of trees that will be felled just to send across a romantic message. You can follow the herd or create a homemade card. Don’t just pick up a piece of paper, fold it twice and write a message. Think of special memories that brought you and your loved one together and make that part of your unique card. Again, ideas for handmade greeting cards abound online, including one of a guy that made his with sand from their beach getaway.

Spend as much as you want…within your budget.

The problem with celebrations is they always come with a price tag. Even if you decide to stay at home and exchange handmade gifts, you still need to shop for groceries for your meal and arts and crafts materials. It’s okay to spend – even if it’s for a candlelit dinner in a fancy venue – if your wallet can take it. To make sure you don’t end up in debt the next day, set a budget and make sure to stick to it. You can also both agree on a budget for your gift exchange and you two can breathe easier as a result.

Or spread the love and volunteer together!

If you and your partner share a passion for a cause, why not make an anti-Valentine stand and spread your love instead? Consider offering free tutorials to marginalized children, or spend an afternoon with the elderly. Homes for the aged always welcome visitors as many of their patients rarely get them. Or pledge your Valentine’s Day budget so a child can go to school for a year. Remember that P8,500 average spend? Well, World Vision Philippines accepts monthly donation of P750 to sponsor a child so he or she can go to school and also receive related care. That’s just P9,000 a year, and the joy you will bring to a child is a more meaningful gesture of love than any Valentine experience can create.