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Woman giving a Valentine's Day card (© 2011 Photos.com, a division of Getty Images. All rights reserved.)
Woman giving a Valentine's Day card (© 2011 Photos.com, a division of Getty Images. All rights reserved.)

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A day for lovers, not retailers Add to ...

Valentine's Day is big business for retailers. On average, men will spend $158.71 (U.S.) on their significant others, while women will spend around $75.79, according to a study by the National Retail Foundation. If that sort of spending is not in your budget, consider some less expensive, and more thoughtful, ideas for your Valentine.

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Flowers

Roses are the flower staple on February 14th, which is why the markup can be insane.

Suss out your Valentine to see if she prefers another type of flower before resorting to roses. At my local flower shop, tulips (my favourite) are $25 for a dozen. For the same amount of roses, it's $100. If you're stuck on one particular flower, ask the florist to make a bouquet using whatever flowers are in season. As with produce, you'll get the best deal on what's growing now and it will also be the best quality. If you do want to give flowers, or specifically roses, consider buying them from your local grocery store or supermarket. Their arrangements can be a fraction of the cost. And if you're having your bouquet delivered consider a creative way to send your flowers early - attaching a card saying you couldn't wait until, for example, would likely do the trick. You'll avoid the holiday markup, typically anywhere from 10-20 percent by sending your flowers early.



Wrapping and Card

A recent customer survey by Michaels, the arts & crafts store, shows that 85 percent of respondents think handmade gifts are more sentimental than store-bought http://www.24-7pressrelease.com/press-release/85-percent-say-handmade-valentines-say-i-love-you-best-194362.php. A handwritten letter is far more romantic than a store bought card. To help us create our heartfelt cards, Michaels stores across Canada are hosting in-store Valentine's Day events this Sunday February 13th. For a complete schedule, go to www.Michaels.com/ValentinesDay. And if you're wrapping a gift, earth-toned paper found at the dollar store with simple twine makes beautiful wrap. Plus, it's great wrap for any occasion so it won't go to waste. The other free electronic option is to send a Smile Box (photo and music e-card) to your Valentine or to all of your girlfriends instead of the standard e-card greeting.



Dinner

Opt to stay in Monday night, eat your favourite foods, enjoy some wine and watch a lighthearted romantic comedy. For added fun (and mush) turn everything into a heart shape...pancakes, toast, pasta,...you get the idea.Who wouldn't smile at that?

To find Valentine's Day inspired recipes, click here http://www.foodnetwork.com/valentines-day/package/index.html. And to find the best wines on a budget, click here http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/The-Best-Wines-on-a-Budget. Or for $1.99 you can download Wine Snob http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wine-snob/id284973870?mt=8comes and search for bottles by price to get a great tasting vino that fits your spending plan. If your plan is to get out of the house, spend the day or the Sunday before Valentine's returning to the spot you met, had your first date, or shared your first kiss. Or challenge one another to find the most creative way to spend the afternoon for $25 or less.



Gifting

Keep the $25 or less challenge going for gifts as well. You can surely fill a gift bag of your partner's favourite things for under $25. A new book and favourite chocolate bar, magazine and bubble bath, etc. This is especially the right idea if you've left your gift until the last minute. In this case, the drugstore is your go-to, but don't underestimate the great finds. Whatever you decide to do this February 14th, talk to your partner about it. Make it a fun challenge, rather than a downer discussion. The last thing your heart, and your relationship, needs is the stress of spending money you don't have. Plus, a little thought and effort put towards your day, your dinner and your present will not only earn some extra points, but will save some cash as well.



Happy Valentine's Day.



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