How to Save Money on Valentine’s Day


Ryan Ong



I don’t know about you, but I think Valentine’s Day is best spent in a dark and cosy room. Maybe with a bottle of Château Lafitte, some chocolate coated raisins, and 12 continuous hours of Fallout: New Vegas. But apparently, not all of you are in the finance industry, which is associated with romance in about the same way ringworms are. So for you readers who have a love life, here’s a balanced dose: enough financial aid to avoid a three week tofu diet, but not so much that your dates suddenly decide they have more affection for their pet rock:


1. East Coast Lagoon

As a date spot, the food village at East Coast Lagoon is underrated. You might think a food centre, especially one that should have greater proximity to dead fish than any other in the country, would sort of stink. And you’d be wrong.

The food village is right next to the beach, which in case you haven’t noticed, packs more breeze than a quad powered hair dryer. And it’s cool night air; not stuffy like a restaurant’s overworked air-conditioning. Throw in an awesome sea view and clear night sky, and you have a setting out of a bad (read: every) Korean drama serial.

Your meals are likely to be under $20. And there’s a chance for a long, romantic walk afterwards.


View of the beach, with a bottle perched on the fence
Got my walk, my view, my beer…and no Valentine. 3 out of 4, good enough.”


2. Use Supermarket Florists

Go to a supermarket like Cold Storage, and you’ll probably see flowers near the entrance. They aren’t there because your grocer wants to double as a florist; they’re there to prime visitors. See, putting flowers near the entrance makes you want to buy more.

Anyway, those flowers won’t last forever, and the grocer would rather sell them than dump them. For that reason, flowers are usually cheaper at the grocer’s than at the florist. Sometimes, as much as 30% cheaper. And if you order two weeks in advance, you can get an even steeper discount.


Man holding flowers, head turned aside
“Of course. ALL roses smell like raw meat and fresh bread.”


3. Hand-Made Cards

I have a deep, seething hatred of Hallmark cards. In fact, I have a deep seething hatred of Hallmark in general. Why do people buy those lame pieces of cardboard? And which Kindergarten poetry class did they steal the rhymes from?

Because the teacher needs to be fired.

But forget that; my point is, you’re better off making your own card. Have a look at card making sites; you’ll see that over the years, this has become quite the trend. At which point, you might be thinking: Hang on, an intricate hand-made card can cost more than a Hallmark card. And yes, it can cost you about $8 – $12 if you’re doing elaborate things like pop-ups. But you know what?

It’s not a waste of money, whereas the Hallmark card is. For $8 – $12, you’ll have a durable, custom made piece that’s worthy of being framed. And it’s something personal, so there won’t be 500 other versions of it being mailed that week.


Valentine card with a monster drawn on it
“I’m not REALLY suggesting you’re a monster. Just a little one.”


4. Compile a CD

Make use of that illegally downloaded music library in your hard drive. With basic tools like your phone’s voice recorder, you can easily create your own “radio session”. Talk about your relationship and the good times, and pepper it with appropriate music.

If you don’t have the songs you want, because nobody would ever think of visiting torrent sites and downloading them for free, just ask around. There’s bound to be some friends who have the tracks you need. Since it’s all digital, this is also ideal for a Valentine who’s currently abroad; you can just e-mail the file (but it feels less personal).


CD with "lol" burned on it
Custom CDs should nicely summarize your relationship with the receiver.


5. Time Shift the Day

If you’re going to a restaurant, try to time shift Valentine’s. In other words, celebrate it a day earlier or later. Or even better, wait for the weekend and then celebrate over two days.

Restaurants tend to increase prices at Valentine’s. This is usually done quietly, by changing to a more expensive menu. They know they’ve got you cornered; you wouldn’t dare cancel a reservation, and if everyone’s doing it, where will you go anyway?

So dodge the whole scam and go some other time. Besides, who’s thinking about fun on a Tuesday night?


Calendar card on a computer
“I MEANT to shift Valentine’s to July. What, did you think I just forgot and made up this lame excuse?”


6. Bake Something

Actually, baking is harder than cooking; but I understand your fear of chopping and frying things. I’ve lost several good friends that way.

(Nah, kidding. I’ve only lost two). Anyway, $30 is more than enough to bake a good sized tart or cake. This is double the fun if you bake it with your better half. And don’t worry; even failed baking projects make great tasting gunk. No, seriously, just scoop it and serve it after dinner. The bonding comes from doing it together, not from eating it.

This activity also lasts for several hours, so it’s a great way to entertain yourselves over an afternoon.


Elaborate Valentine's cupcakes
“Now that’s a fantastic 5 hour job! By the way, did I mention I’m allergic to frosting and flour?”


7. Create a Momento Box

A momento box is basically a decorated shoebox, which contains the (cheaper) things your better half likes. That means things like a favourite snack, coupons to a favoured store, photographs, etc. You might also include photos, old letters, and assorted nostalgia.

Momento boxes are financially savvy for a number of reasons. It’s not just that they’re cheap; they also highlight what most of your Valentine spends his or her money on. Keep note of what you’re buying, and the associated brand names; next time, you’ll be able to use credit card rewards or gift credits for maximum value. You’ll also use the same info for Christmas or birthdays; if you’re on a budget then, odds are you can repeat a gift from the momento box.

Besides, people feel flattered when you know these small details. You’ll just have to do a little research to see what they like.


Memory box contents
“I, uh, locked it in a bank vault. Because it’s so precious. And stop looking in that bin.”


Image Credits:
Joe Lanman

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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.