I admit it: when I was younger, there were times when I would daydream about that perfect Valentine’s Day date or about an over-the-top Valentine’s Day proposal. In this day and age, there’s no shortage of luxury goods or services with which you can pamper your significant other on any holiday or special occasion. Last weekend, a new reality show aired on Channel 5 called “The Proposal” where ostentatious acts are displayed in hopes of initiating engagement. Some of these acts make the opening scene from Sweet Home Alabama look like a modest, halfhearted gesture.
I’m all for romance and for creating a moment that is thoughtful, impassioned, and meaningful…. but what happens when your admirer, who spends $500 on a date or $5,000 on a proposal then joins you in matrimony (and his money joins yours in matri-money)? Financial burdens and disagreements over money matters are some of the most common reasons why couples split up. Similarly, financial responsibility and financial prudence can lead to financial freedom and can build strength, success, and longevity in a relationship.
If a relationship is sustained by one person’s profligate spending habits, what will happen when the relationship matures or when resources become tight? One of my good childhood friends married a guy who showered her with extravagant gifts and extreme affection. And since she was married years before I was, I was very envious of her. The two of them went on luxurious holidays and often dined at fancy restaurants. On every special occasion and holiday, expectations of romance, adventure, and excitement were set higher and higher, and it got to a point where the day-to-day was not only mundane, but it was almost a constant disappointment. To avoid the disappointment, they became reckless and lived their lives going from one high to another. It was unsustainable, and their relationship came crashing down just 4 years later.
I’m not suggesting that the occasional splurging on something special is forbidden. I’m just saying that financial irresponsibility is often cited for destroying relationships, which is a bit ironic if you’re splurging on the relationship itself. There are plenty of frugal ways to express your love, some of which are listed in an article here (do note that there is a big difference between being frugal and merely being cheap). It is far easier to generously spend money on the love of your life, than it is to speak and do things from your heart using primarily your time and creativity.
That being said, some of my favourite Valentine’s Day gifts are as follows:
- surprise outings
- homemade cards
- home-cooked meals
- upcycled crafts
- bouquets of edible flowers (e.g., lavender, rose, chrysanthemum, jasmine, hibiscus) to make tea
I love just about anything that is sincere and heartfelt, and I would say that most women do too. So this Valentine’s Day, I challenge you to make it a frugal holiday… and feel free to share your frugal gifts ideas below.