Valentine’s Day is the official holiday for celebrating love. However, because it’s almost exclusively a commercial holiday, it is also about spending money. This combination often leads to bad money decisions, because it encourages emotional spending out of love, obligation, and even guilt.
Before you get caught up, listen up: Love is not a legitimate excuse for irresponsible spending. So, choose to avoid these unloving financial behaviors for Valentine’s Day:
Do Not Spend More Than You Can Afford
Being overly generous when money is tight does nothing good for the giver or the receiver. More importantly, don’t get caught up in trying to impress your friends and relatives. Honesty, including financial honesty, is key to any healthy relationship. So, don’t pretend to have money you don’t have by playing the “big spender” role.
Do Not Use Love as a Justification for Emotional Spending
Love is not about making financial decisions with your heart, instead of your head. Even though emotional spending can give a temporary high, it can also lead to guilt, buyer’s remorse, and even resentment between partners. Many a relationship have been destroyed by this cycle.
Do Not Blackmail Your Sweetheart Into Spending
Never pressure anyone to purchase financially irresponsible Valentine’s Day gifts, in order to “prove” their love to you, or worse, to impress your friends and family.
Giving and receiving as an expression of love is not about price tags, but about meaning. The most meaningful gift does not have to cost an arm and a leg, and an expensive gift without meaning will be soon forgotten, on top of being a waste of money.
To be financially responsible without coming off as cheap or insensitive, take my advice:
Do Not Wait Until the Last Minute!
Desperation or impulse spending nearly always results in spending more money than intended, or getting a less than ideal gift—or worse, both. People can tell when you didn’t put thought into their gift, no matter how much you spend at the last minute. The key to getting the best products and services for the lowest prices is to plan your purchases and shop for them in advance. This also gives you more options, including shopping online, with enough time to order items for arrival before Valentine’s Day, without incurring hefty shipping charges.
Budget for Valentine’s Day, as You Would for All Gift-Giving Occasions
If you can, take the time to get buy-in, and manage the expectations of your Valentine. Openly discuss what you can and can’t afford in advance, and set mutually agreed upon spending limits that fit into your respective budgets.
Use the Most Powerful Aphrodisiac: Your Imagination
Instead of a big expensive purchase, think of a thoughtful, affordable gift, along with romantic ways to make the day special. Invest your time and attention instead of more money. Often, overspending is really just an expensive cop-out to avoid investing genuine emotion and true meaning into Valentine’s Day.
Focus on four areas:
- Things you can personally do for your sweetheart.
- Things you can do together.
- Things you can make for your Valentine.
- Places you can go together.
For example, gift your partner with a spa day, with you personally giving the mani/pedi, massage, shampoo, and several hours of your undivided attention. If you are artistically inclined, compose a song, or dedicate a handmade book of poetry or an original painting to your Valentine. How about enrolling in a class together, such as ballroom dancing, which could enhance your sense of teamwork and ensure you are in each others arms at least once a week. Of course, this kind of stuff will take thought, planning, preparation, and time (see “Do Not Wait Until the Last Minute!” above) to pull off.
The Bottom Line: Spending irresponsibly is no way to say “I love you,” even on Valentine’s Day. No one who really loves you would want you to do it. With advance planning and communication, you can have Valentine’s Day romance without blowing your finances.
Black Enterprise Executive Editor-At-Large Alfred Edmond Jr. is an award-winning business and financial journalist, media executive, entrepreneurship expert, personal growth/relationships coach, and co-founder of Grown Zone, a multimedia initiative focused on personal growth and healthy decision-making. This blog is dedicated to his thoughts about money, entrepreneurship, leadership and mentorship. Follow him on Twitter at @AlfredEdmondJr.