Stupid Frugal Tip: Valentine’s Day on the Cheap

Cheap isn’t a word championed by the Commercial-Industrial Complex (CIC) for Valentine’s Day. For old marrieds still raising children and paying off mortgages, roofs, and furnaces, cheap can be good. Money’s not necessary to show your love, but thoughtfulness is.

Last year when our children served us a lovely Valentine’s Day meal in front of the fireplace, pouring our wine, and (sort of) cleaning up, the money we spent was for the bottle of wine, and that’s it. As Corey Mintz points out in his recent column, Why you should dine at home on Valentine’s Day, dining at home offers many upsides, cheap being just one of them.

Other cheap ideas for Valentine’s? Buy your lover flowers today. Now! Put them in a vase, add the powder to prolong them, and enjoy. If your spouse accuses you of being cheap, merely say that you want the flowers  fully opened on Valentine’s. Spend the saved money on a great bottle of wine and present that on the special day.

If chocolates turn his/her crank, check out recipe websites devoted to chocolate. It’s way easier than you think and homemade means you get to eat far more than what’s good for you.

For those looking to leave the house – do it on any day other than Valentine’s. Why go out for a crowded meal with everyone else? How romantic is that?! Couple it with a massage if your company includes massages as a benefit. My hubby and I did that last Friday, and the entire amount was covered thanks to a 20% discount for bringing a man.

Above all, relax, enjoy the CIC-approved day but don’t buy into the expense. Show your love in the many thoughtful gestures that make a commitment work. As for us – we’re attending parent-teacher night – oh, the romance.

Here’s my Moms on Money blog from last year.

Moneyville – Valentines – Keep the romance, lose the cost

Save money – celebrate on the weekend, not on Feb. 14th

Juggling work, homework, and sports activities means precious little time to manage romance but parents deserve it and the kids can help. For parents on a tight budget, celebrating Valentine’s needn’t cost a penny.

My husband recounted his favourite Valentine’s to our kids, and to my surprise, it was our first one….celebrated with my mother.

Home for the weekend from university, Valentine’s landed during the visit. Not the romantic type, my mother nonetheless set up a card table in front of the roaring fireplace, draped a white linen cloth over top, placed a single-stem rose in a vase, and served us a meal by candlelight. It was special, romantic and cheap.

Since that first Valentine’s we’ve dined out many a time pre children, but rarely since. Neither of us could remember those meals save for the packed restaurants.

Nothing kills romance quite as quickly as leaping up from dinner to ferry kids to basketball and football practice, so my husband and I will celebrate Valentine’s on a more civilized night like Sunday. After all, the weekend basketball tournament will be over by then.

Follow these tips to take the stress out and put the romance in:

* If celebrating on the 14th: assemble the meal on the weekend with input and help from the family. Older kids can pop it into the oven after school on Tuesday and then toss a salad.

* Be French and pick up a load of bread and good cheese on way home from work.

* Read Gord Stimmel’s column in The Star for top wine picks that fit your budget and your meal. Since I’m a champagne girl on a beer budget, I’ll be rereading his column on the best sparklers. Hungaria Grande Cuvee Brut is only $11.95. http://www.thestar.com/specialsections/article/1107221–a-democratic-tasting-of-sparklers-for-your-new-year   Check the LCBO’s product search first to see where the wine is stocked. http://www.lcbo.com/lcbo-ear/jsp/ProductSearchNonVintages.jsp?language=EN

* Buy flowers at the local grocer on the weekend and start enjoying immediately.

* Haul that dining room table to the fireplace, or set up a card table. Drape with the table cloth you never use. Candlelight masks the wrinkles.

* Use the fine china even if kids are sharing in the meal. It’s a special occasion.

* Let the kids serve the meal. My teens seem excited by this duty, especially the pouring of the wine.

* Clean up can be a family affair, or better, a child affair.

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