How to do Valentine’s Day on a budget

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How to do Valentine’s Day on a budget

Consumers are expected to spend an average of $143.56 on Valentine’s Day this year, up the $136.57 predicted for 2017. This is per the National Retail Federation (NRF), which tracks consumer spending habits and seasonal trends.This money is mostly going to candy (55%), followed by greeting cards (45.9%), flowers (35.6%) and an evening out (35.2%).

Whatever your plans are to celebrate St. Valentine, just know you don't have to drop an entire paycheck on the event. Here are four ideas so you can have a budget-friendly Valentine's Day.

Give an experience gift

According to the NRF survey, 23.7% of respondants plan to give a gift of experience and 42.3% said they'd love to receive one.

An experience gift can come in many different forms – a weekend night bowling or going to the movies, a ticket to a concert, or a breezy Saturday spent roaming your sweetie’s favorite museum. It's something you do instead of an object to get.

Think of experience gifts your loved ones may crave and give them a self-made coupon for the event on Valentine’s Day. By thinking of fun (and frugal) things your partner loves to do, you can give a home-run gift and save some cash.

Make a gourmet meal at home

The advice to cook at home to save money is cliché, but hear us out. The National Restaurant Association reports Valentine’s Day is the second most popular night to dine out, following Mother’s Day.

If you hit up a restaurant on Feb. 14, you’ll likely face long lines and wait times. And even if you make a reservation ahead of time, you can expect a busy, crowded environment which could affect service.

Cooking at home means you escape the stress and hassle of a busy night out. Plus, you can save money and have a fancy dining experience. Consider looking for upscale recipes for your a dish you both enjoy and pick up the ingredients ahead of time. (Here are 12 simple things you should do before grocery shopping.) If you’re a novice cook, you can also use a service like Hello Fresh or Plated. Both services will send you a box of pre-measured ingredients and written instructions with pictures you can follow.

Give the gift of service

Sometimes the people we love have everything they want and need. In that case, a gift of service could be in order. This is where your creativity can shine — what can you do for your loved one that would have a positive impact in their life? Everyone will answer this differently, but we'll give you some ideas.

Perhaps you can detail your spouses car or maybe you set up a time to volunteer at your local soup kitchen or pet shelter together. Whatever you think your loved one wants, find a way to do it and make it special.

Redeem credit card rewards

Still want to buy something for your Valentine? Instead of making a withdrawl from your bank account, why don't you check and see if you have some unused credit card rewards. These can be used to pay for a gift or a night out. Some cards let you redeem your points for cash back, statement credits or restaurant gift cards. Any of those options could help you afford a nice gift or pay for a Valentine’s date worth remembering. (Here are some tips on how to maximize your credit card rewards.)

If you have travel rewards points, that could be even better. Imagine surprising your sweetie with a night in their favorite hotel or a quick weekend getaway.

Finally, many rewards card programs let you redeem points for merchandise, which makes it easy to redeem points for nearly any gift.

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Image: manonallard