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SMART INSIGHTS FROM PROFESSIONAL ADVISERS

How to Have a Happy Valentine’s Day for Less

You don’t have to break the bank. Here are some simple, low-cost ways to show you care.

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Love may be priceless, but Valentine's Day isn’t. Americans will spend $18.2 billion celebrating Valentine’s Day this year, predicts the National Retail Federation. That’s an average of $136.57 a person. An estimated $4.3 billion will be spent on jewelry, $3.8 billion on a night out, $2 billion on flowers and $1 billion on greeting cards.

SEE ALSO: A Crime of Passion, Sweetheart Scams Can Be Costly

Yes, romance can be costly, but it doesn't always have to be this way. Here are some cost-effective suggestions to show love and admiration without going into debt.

Go homemade

A romantic evening at home can be an expensive night on the town. We have all been stuck in a cramped restaurant waiting for a table to be ready. The clinking of dishes and loud chatter doesn't strike me as romantic. Consider cooking a meal at home complete with soft music and a bottle of wine or sparkling juice. Google can be your Cupid in your search for recipes for easy, healthy and affordable meals online to woo your sweetheart.

Another place where going homemade can be romantic (and cost-effective) is with your Valentine’s Day card. The greeting card companies are out in full force with various Valentine-themed cards, many at $5 and up. Why not speak from the heart yourself? Do a throwback to when you were a kid and make your own. Put some personal touches on your handcrafted creation. Most people believe in the adage it is the thought that counts. Something from the heart is better than something from the wallet.

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Valentine's Day dining options

If you want to go out for a romantic meal, consider dining during brunch or lunch hours. Many establishments offer more affordable options for lunchtime. Dinner is when business peaks.

Love can wait

Another way to save is to celebrate Valentine’s on a different day. After Valentine's Day, cards, candy and many other items in gift shops and grocery stores go on sale to make room for St. Patrick's Day merchandise. Those chocolates will taste just as good on Feb. 20 as they did on Feb. 14!

Spend time doing good deeds

Another way to show your love on Valentine’s Day is to share it with others. Go to the local blood bank and donate blood with someone you care about. Blood is needed, especially in the winter months, and each donation can save up three lives.

Volunteer at an animal rescue or shelter. Animals need love, too. Spend time playing and cuddling with some cute animals and help with cleaning or taking a dog for a walk.

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Consider bringing Valentine’s cards or mini cupcakes to folks in assisted living or shelters.

There is more to love than chocolates and jewelry. Use creativity to show how much you love that special person in your life. Show your Valentine not just one day of love, rather a lifetime of love.

See Also: What to Do If You’re Divorcing Your Valentine

Marguerita M. Cheng is the Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. She is a CFP® professional, a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠, Retirement Income Certified Professional and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. She helps educate the public, policymakers and media about the benefits of competent, ethical financial planning.

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This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff.