This coming Monday is Valentine’s Day, something which you are apparently supposed to completely ignore if you are saving hard to qualify for a mortgage.
Can you afford Valentine’s Day?
In the “Ask Yourself if it’s a Need or a Want” school of personal budgeting, the answer is: it’s a want, so, no. Wants are bad.
Which is why I can’t follow the “Is it a Need or a Want?” school of personal budgeting. “Wants” are not bad, and you’re not bad for wanting them. Plus, “needs” cover so much more than just basic food, safety and shelter. I use Karen McCall’s definition:
“A want, when met, entertains you. A need, when met, sustains you. Confusing wants for needs will eventually drain you.”
Connecting with others, showing love and appreciation (or feeling loved and appreciated) is a profound human need. Buying a gift is one way to connect with others. But when spending money will sabotage our long-term plans, then no matter how wonderful the gift is, it drains us. It drains our bank accounts, and also the sense of self-respect that develops when we set a goal and work towards it steadily. Contemplating how we will actually pay next month’s credit card bill can drain all the joy we felt on giving or receiving the gift.
The temptation here is to become a Valentine’s Grinch, to hate the commercialistion of Valentine’s Day, and refuse to get involved at all. Which means missing out on the chance to meet our profound human need for love, connection and appreciation.
The solution is to get a little creative. The best bit of this is, not only is there no draining of funds or good feelings, but the creativity adds more to the gift than money can ever buy.
Because getting creative turns celebrating Valentine’s Day into an experience, and experiences make us happier. Even if we buy a small gift, the fact that we have to be creative and thoughtful in the procuring of said gift, means that we have a story to tell. And the fact that we are being thoughtful and creative makes our gift that much more meaningful to the one we love.
Here are 9 creative ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Some take a little time and energy, but all cost little or no money:
- Send a text or a love note. Ideas and inspiration here: http://www.alexandrafranzen.com/2013/02/14/30-mini-love-notes-for-valentines-day-copy-paste-text-tweet-kiss-tell
- Buy or make one of your beloved’s favourite foods or drinks and share it with them
- If you’re artistic, try sketching a portrait of them
- Re-create one of your first dates (ahem - not the one that cost a fortune. One of the cheap ones, like re-watching a movie you saw together in the early days)
- Write them a letter about what struck you about them when you first met, or when you first realised you were falling in love
- Make a date to watch a sunrise (or night owls may do better with a sunset)
- Organise simple picnic somewhere scenic
- Have an evening together lit only by candlelight
- Do a task they normally do. Do it well, without leaving anything for them to follow up on. This is especially thoughtful if they are going through a bit of a hard time at present.