When Yvette Pappoe first started dating her now-fiance, they attempted the traditional Valentine’s Day restaurant dinner. But Cupid had other plans in mind.
As the two headed out into the cold to find a romantic dinner spot, they quickly realized every restaurant was booked. Fortunately, inspiration struck, Pappoe says, when her fiance realized that the NBA All-Star three-point contest was on television. “Do you want to watch it?” he asked.
The new couple ordered Chinese takeout food and settled in for a cozy night of basketball-viewing. “We realized that we prefer that over trying to do a stuffy restaurant for no good reason,” Pappoe says of the basketball contest that usually airs on a weekend close to Valentine’s Day. “It’s been our thing ever since.”
One side benefit, Pappoe notes, to her NBA-themed Valentine’s Day tradition is that it saves her and her fiance money. She’s practical about finances and would prefer to spend money on experiences, not flowers or stuffed animals, she says. “We give gifts to each other throughout the year anyway,” she says. “I don’t know why it’s necessary to spend more money because there’s a [teddy] bear with a heart on it that’s worth $25.”
For couples and individuals looking to cut spending, Valentine’s Day is a tempting holiday to skip. After all, retailers and restaurants typically use the day as an excuse to jack up the prices of bouquets and pressure couples into ordering from pricey fixed-price menus.
U.S. consumers will spend an average $143.56 on the holiday this year, according to the National Retail Federation. The financial burden is augmented by the fact that the holiday arrives not long after the expensive Christmas gift-giving season, making it especially inconvenient for lovebirds still trying to dig their way out of post-holiday debt.
That’s part of the reason Albert Lang and his wife of nearly five years opt out of a traditional Valentine’s Day celebration. With Christmas in December, his birthday in March, his wedding anniversary in April and his wife’s birthday in May, it’s nice to have a month off from the “onslaught of presents,” he writes in an email. “It was a conscious decision to easily cut out [spending] money on something that we really didn’t need.”
While Lang and his wife are on the same page about reducing their spending on Feb. 14, not every couple is as willing to skip the heart-themed holiday. After all, the holiday is very meaningful to some individuals. Others might not like being asked what they’re planning to do on Valentine’s Day and have no romantic plans to talk about with co-workers or friends. But for those who can stick the landing, the financial benefits of skipping Valentine’s Day can be substantial.
If you’re ready to take up the challenge, here’s how to opt out of Valentine’s Day without infuriating your loved one.
Consider talking it over with your sweetheart.
“If you want to completely opt out [of Valentine’s Day], it requires communication,” says Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert, and owner of The Protocol School of Texas. “You can’t opt out of something like this without acknowledging it.”
Saying nothing at all – and letting the holiday pass without comment – “comes across as somewhat discourteous and impolite,” Gottsman says.
In advance of the holiday, bring up your plans and desire to scale back in a thoughtful way. If you’re turned off by the commercial aspect of this “Hallmark holiday,” then tell your partner that you love him or her but would like to opt out of the overdone commercialism. If you are saving for something special or paying down debt, you might say that your budget is tight, but that you love your sweetheart and want to do something frugal to acknowledge the date.
If you know that this conversation won’t land well, however, think twice before attempting to skip the holiday, says Thomas P. Farley, an etiquette expert known as Mister Manners and keynote speaker at What Manners Most, a communications and coaching company in New York City. “Still acknowledge the day and be as romantic as you can, but think of your own creative ways [to celebrate] that don’t spend money,” he says.
You know your partner. If he or she is relentlessly practical about finances, the discussion about skipping Valentine’s Day might go well. If he or she really loves the holiday and the traditional signs of affection, find a way to meet both your needs by reducing the cost or the extravagance while still celebrating your relationship.
Skip the date, not the tradition.
You can still opt out of Valentine’s Day without completely foregoing the holiday. Because restaurants, retailers, and other providers often raise prices to meet increased demand, you may have a better experience, at a better price, if you simply opt to celebrate the holiday before or after Feb. 14.
If you’re planning to delay the celebration, make sure to discuss it in advance so it doesn’t seem like an afterthought, Gottsman says.
Make your own frugal traditions.
Skipping the holiday doesn’t require foregoing it altogether. Instead, find something that celebrates your unique relationship while staying mindful of costs.
Get dressed up and eat your favorite home-cooked meal, Farley suggests. Watch a favorite movie or write a really thoughtful card, one that fills up every available blank spot, he says. Make it about your entire family by making time to spend with your children or your grandparents. Consider your own relationship dynamics but remain conscious of which types of celebrations work for your budget.
“I think just being open and flexible to something that’s different from the status quo is the first step,” Pappoe says. “Our tradition was born out of me letting him come up with an idea – it’s cold, let’s cuddle and watch our favorite thing.”
Article culled from money.usnews.com