3 Ways Valentine’s Day Can Put You in Debt

by Kevin on February 11, 2011

If Virginia is for Lovers, is it appropriate to say Valentine’s Day is for Debtors?

“No, surely not!”, you might be thinking. “This guy just hates Valentine’s Day!”

While that is true I think we can all admit there’s been a least once where we’ve spent more money than we had just to impress that special person in our life. Whether it was breaking the budget with two dozen roses in college ($54?!?) or splurging to get her that shiny new gift… Valentine’s Day can be very expensive.

In general all holidays are expensive. Christmas is expensive due to the travel and gifts. Thanksgiving is expensive due to wide assortment of foods that must be prepared to share with your extended family. And Valentine’s Day’s cost comes when we spend more than we ever would have just because the greeting card companies say we’re supposed to.

Doesn’t make much sense to me, but here’s three ways this can get you into trouble:

Exceeding Imaginary Expectations

The biggest problem I see with going all out for this romantic holiday is you’re trying to exceed unknown or artificial expectations. All the radio and TV commercials are screaming at you to buy everything under the sun to make your significant other happy. Naturally because they’re trying to sell you as much stuff as possible the imaginary bar is set as high as possible. What do you mean you didn’t get roses and chocolates? Shame on you! You better man up and throw everything on credit.

All because… you’re supposed to. Yea. Great reason. So what if your significant other might like something completely different? So what if you can’t afford it? You can always pay it off next month!

Expensive Meals Out on the Town

I’m a big fan of a nice meal at a fancy restaurant. I have no problem’s eating at Fleming’s once per year for our anniversary. (Read: The Steak Dilemma.)

But here’s the kicker: our fancy expensive meal is in January a few days after New Years. Society is not eating out en masse on our anniversary. There’s no significant competition for a reservation or parking.

Oh, and the minor detail that we budget for the meal for several months before going out and paying cash. No debt involved there.

Another romantic holiday catch: you usually get “the Valentine’s Day special package” which, more often than not in my experience, is a limited selection at a higher price than you would pay normally.

There is absolutely no shame in eating in if you can’t afford to eat out. You can have just as nice a meal at home. Cook her dinner with the lights turned down a bit. Grab a cheap bottle of wine, a couple of steaks, and start cooking. It’ll be more relaxing, healthier, and a lot less expensive.

Traditional Valentine’s Day Gifts

Oh let’s see… expensive flowers to be shipped in from Holland, the expensive diamond necklace/bracelet/anklet/toe ring at the jewelry store in the mall, and the always expensive 8 ounce pack of chocolates. Before you know it you’ve dropped $200 just for stuff that you aren’t even sure if she’ll even like.

You compound the issue by not budgeting for these gifts and instead using a credit card. Slapping several hundred dollars worth of debt to your net worth is not worth one romantic evening.

What do you all think? Is Valentine’s Day for suckers? Have you budgeted for it in the past and it worked out just fine? Or do you think incurring debt for a romantic evening is worth it?


Lee Rowley February 12, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Ha ha… after 11 years of marriage, I can say that all the glitzy V-day ads are not so much for enticing *you* to buy expensive gifts… they’re for conditioning your significant other to *expect* them. Then s/he turns to you and says “if you really loved me, you’d get me (insert pricey but pointless gift here).”

That said, I wholeheartedly agree with you that overspending (particularly on credit) is a horrible way to show affection. And I can also agree that cooking at home is less expensive – it’s also more intimate and memorable, because you actually put effort into it (instead of just calling to make a reservation.) What’s romantic about sharing your special night with a couple hundred other restaurant patrons?

Golfing Girl February 14, 2011 at 10:33 am

For V-day, I asked my husband to clean the jetted garden tub and take a bath with me. It’s a win-win! 😉 Cheap, I don’t have to clean the tub, and of course, he wins as well..

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff February 17, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I’ve been married for 5 1/2 years and we’ve been together for more than 9 years – we love V-Day but avoid all the traditional crap. For this one we put little bows on the smart phones we bought a few weeks ago and made homemade pizza. 🙂 No V-day debt here…

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