Avoid Spending a Fortune on St. Frugaltine’s Day

Wow, has been a whole year since we last spoke about celebrating St. Frugaltine’s Day? I guess so and once again it comes as the challenge of showing our valentine how much we care without going way overboard or appearing to be a cheapskate…our worst fear! Being frugal doesn’t mean being cheap. Let’s make that perfectly clear. Rather, it means a way to show how much you care about the emotional side of an event like St. Valentine’s Day, and not the commercial side.

Avoid Spending a Fortune on St. Frugaltine's Day

According to the National Retail Association, the average person will spend $150 this year celebrating and buying gifts for this “holiday”. That adds up to over 19 billion dollars nationally, enough money to make Kevin O’Leary happy and get him “his money” back and more for any valentine Shark Tank investments he’s made! But seriously, 19 million? It makes Frugal Gary shudder…how about you?

First rule of thumb to remember is…remember it! God help you if you forget it’s St. Frugaltine’s day. There is no penance, forgiveness, or make up for that sin. It’s the day you must dedicate to show your loved one, significant other or bestie how much they mean to you and how much you care! And in reality, it shouldn’t be the only day. Every day should be, but this day, February 14th, is the Super Bowl of caring. And it’s a Sunday this year, so no quick cup of coffee and running out the door until dinner time. It’s going to be an all day, special day in 2016!

The basics and the necessities are easy enough to note. You will need a card (we’ll talk it about further down), but many think you also need fancy dinners, new clothes, jewelry, candy, roses and even romantic getaways to show you really care. Not so fast. Things from your heart are much more significant than those strictly from your wallet, aren’t they?

So here’s my list for this year. I plan to make the day special, and yes it may wind up being rated MA (mature audiences only 😉 ), but it will also be fun, loving, and memorable. Try some of these ideas and make it special for you too!

Just don’t go out and buy a bunch of stuff

Buying things may make you initially a hero, but it means so much more if you take time and emotions in pleasing your loved one. Try something like breakfast in bed or prepping a warm bath with some fragrant candles and soft music for your special person. It’s Sunday, remember sleeping in and being lazy is ok for today if you can. If you’re not living in the same space, you can show up early, bringing breakfast with you as a wake up surprise!

Make your own card

I know you can get cards everywhere, even at the frugal dollar store, but isn’t homemade much more meaningful? Write something from the heart and if that’s too challenging, go online for some inspiration. Love poems or lyrics from a special song, perhaps with some artwork to complement the words. Print it or make it from your stash of home supplies. My wife has saved some of my handmade cards and that thought makes it all so worth it. Think about it, how often do you keep any holiday cards around? Your homemade ones will remain special for a long time.

Dinner at home

Why not prepare dinner for the two of you? Going out is so costly and after all, you can make your favorite dish and even do it together if that’s more romantic. Even if you splurge on some special ingredients, it will still be less expensive than going out. Plan, shop, and cook together and it will taste even better.

Something sweet

After dinner, you can splurge a little by going out for a decadent dessert and coffee. Or better yet, instead of some expensive candy, how about baking your own cookies? I’m no baker but even I can do chocolate chip cookies in the oven from the pre-packaged dough at the supermarket. They’re still delish aren’t they? I usually eat a lot, but on this day they are all for her! (Ok almost all!)

Get rid of the distractions

Put away the cell, turn off the computer and TVs and just sit and chat and reminisce. Talk about the things that make you special together, like memories of your first date. Cuddle, look at your photo albums, and pretend the outside world and its hectic pace just don’t exist for a few hours.

Or delay the day

It may be dramatic, but consider delaying your Valentine’s Day celebration until a few days later. First of all, you will save on everything and anything you might buy. The sales begin immediately after the 14th and you can then feel better about things like little candies and novelties. Even a nice meal or dessert will be less expensive. And you’ll also avoid the crowds. As long as you both are in on that plan and agree, it should work for you.


St. Frugaltine’s celebrations should be fun and special. Not a status symbol about how much you can spend or a “look at me” thing. It’s so much better when it’s personal, sincere, and from your heart. That’s my advice. It’s not just based on sound financial planning, but it is based on personal experience as well. I hope you all can enjoy it and make it memorable!

What are you planning for your special day together? If you have kids how do you include them and make them part of it all?


  1. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank

    Gary, these are really frugal ideas. I and my wife are gonna have a romantic indoor date. We’re just gonna decorate our own dining table and set up a good ambiance for the Valentine’s Day. We always do this and have liked it this way.

  2. holly

    We usually don’t celebrate Valentine’s day as my hubby used to work in the restaurant business & he said it was the worst day of the year to work! lol Plus he makes amazing meals for me weekly. This year, Valentine’s day falls on a day that we are both volunteering at a soup kitchen, so I think that’s pretty cool.

  3. I can’t imagine anyone forgetting about the big day. It’s friggin’ everywhere.

    Tim wishes I were more romantic and wanted to do stuff on Vday. But I just don’t care. This year, though, a movie we’ve been greatly anticipating (Deadpool) is coming out. So that’s how we’ll spend this holiday. With free movie passes, naturally.

  4. Emily @ JohnJaneDoe

    We generally do cook a special meal at home on Valentine’s Day…steaks and wine and bakery bread and good cheese. Even when we were less money conscious, we thought that crowded restaurants weren’t as romantic as an evening in (plus, no worries about having a couple of glasses of wine with dinner if no one has to drive home.)

    Our daughter gets super excited about Valentine’s day now, so we do usually pick up a little chocolate for her to enjoy…and we include her in our candlelit dinner, which makes it less romantic but no less special, just with more macaroni and cheese.

  5. Heather @ Simply Save

    Great post! Valentine’s Day really is not about spending money on a bunch of fancy things. I think quality time and the little things make the biggest difference!

  6. Lolobunny

    Great ideas! We always make a nice dinner at home with a nice glass of wine. It’s much more intimate than an overpriced meal at a busy restaurant. Sometimes we push it because it’s my husband’s bday the next day 🙂

  7. Valentine’s Day has never really been my thing, whether I’m in a relationship or not. I think the best gift I ever got was from an ex who gave me a set of gel pens I needed (well, I needed some pens, his Valentine splurge was that they were decent gel ones in fun colors). I kind of think it’s an entirely pointless day.

    1. I guess everyone has an opinion about holidays like these, but consider this: I gave my mom a rose bush plant instead of a bunch of roses one Valentine’s Day. She planted it on her lawn and it was there for over 25 years until she passed and the house was finally sold. That’s my take on money well spent that provided a long term benefit.

      As long as you and your loved one are on the same page, that’s what really is important about how you celebrate.

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