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A Perfect Valentine’s Day that Won’t Break the Bank
By Carla Beuning

(FeatureSource) Valentine’s Day has a reputation for being an expensive holiday, where people spend money on cards, chocolates and flowers. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend $1.09 billion on candy this Valentine’s Day. The average American man will spend $125.96 on his valentine. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a romantic date. These tips can help you woo your valentine without breaking the bank.

“Romance doesn’t have to drain your bank account,” says Liya Lev Oertel, author of “52 Romantic Evenings to Spice Up Your Love Life.” You can give your sweetheart flowers and romantic getaways even if your budget is small. Here are some tips to creating the perfect Valentine’s Day on a budget.

Few things say “I love you” like flowers.

Instead of the traditional bouquet of roses, try sprinkling some rose petals on your Valentine’s bed, couch, rug, bathtub or wherever you think they’d be most inspiring.

Flower shops often throw out wilted and broken flowers. Such discards are a great source of flower petals. Cultivate a relationship with a local florist. If you’re a regular, the florist will be more than happy to give you discards at low or no cost.

If you’re planning a romantic getaway this Valentine’s Day, there are things you can do to cut costs. Choose a bed-and-breakfast or a small inn within a two-hour drive from home. Some tips for creating the perfect romantic getaway that is within your budget:

- Bring your own bubbly to the bed-and-breakfast. - Have a single flower waiting on the bed when you arrive. - Avoid very touristy areas. In out-of-the-way places, you’ll find equally charming bed-and-breakfasts at much lower prices. - If you have family or friends who own a cabin, borrow it. Visit the cabin shortly before your getaway to clean and arrange things and ensure no unpleasant surprises await you. - If you know someone who lives someplace quaint and just far enough away to be interesting, swap homes for a night or two. - For camping types on a budget, pitch a tent in some pretty place and have everything you need waiting for you when you arrive. Ask a friend to set up and/or guard your campsite.

Instead of eating out at an expensive restaurant, create a stay-at-home evening. You’ll earn more romance points by cooking a fancy dinner than by simply picking up the check at a restaurant. Here are tips for creating the perfect romantic meal at home, without spending a fortune at the grocery store:

- Adjust the dinner to fit your means. Replace caviar with fancy cheese, duck with chicken, asparagus with green beans, mousse with ice cream, and so on. - Serve waffles for dessert. Top with strawberries, melted chocolate and whipped cream or ice cream.

The key to creating a romantic Valentine’s Day that won’t break the bank is planning ahead. Use favors from friends, and shop ahead of time for candles, flowers and other sale items.

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