We’re all cutting back right now. But don’t save money at the expense of your relationship. Here are a few places where you should draw the line between being smart with your money and being a cheap and unromantic.
10. Chocolate. Yeah, this is an oldie but a goodie … unless she’s on a diet. If you are going the chocolate route, don’t cut corners by scooping up the red drugstore cardboard box. You don’t have to go extra fancy to make an impact. Find something different. Mexican chocolate doesn’t have to be expensive but it appears exotic. And if you shop after Valentines Day, please take the “SALE” sticker off.
9. Don’t be outdated. Gone are the days of the mixed tape. These days everyone is born with an iPod ear bud already installed. So get an iPod full with his or her favorite music. Don’t steal her iPod and fill it with music you think she’ll like. And whatever you do, don’t erase music she already has.
8. Cooking dinner. This is usually a good move. Get some champagne or sparkling whatever and plan something nice. Just make sure dinner is almost done before she arrives. Don’t plan on starting it as soon as she gets there hoping she’ll help you.
7. Going out is not an automatic win. Just leaving the house isn’t enough to automatically score points. If you always eat dinner at home then choose some place she has mentioned interest in going to, or do a search for cheap romantic restaurants. Stay away from the fast food restaurants and all you can eat buffets.
6. Make a memory. Go out and do something. Bring a camera (if you are one of the few people who doesn’t have one in your phone) and capture everything. This way you can do a follow-up gift of photos in a frame or a scrap book. When you’re on your death bed are you going to remember a gift someone gave you or are you going to remember that really great day you had together? There are plenty of free or cheap things you can do: go see a band she likes, go to the zoo, or have a romantic picnic in the park.
5. Get something meaningful… to HER. You really want that new snowboarding game for the Wii. Ask for it. Don’t buy it for her.
4. Just because you think it’s funny does not mean it is. Gag gifts are better left for another holiday—like April fools day. Booger flavored chocolates will not win you points in the romance department.
3. No bad poetry. Even though your sweetie is probably expecting you to scrimp on her Valentine’s Day presents this year no one actually wants a badly written poem. You don’t have to spend a lot but you should at least go pick some flowers from your neighbor’s yard (if you’re lucky enough to live in a warm climate). If you’ve been unemployed for a while put together a scrap book. Call her mother and ask her to send you her favorite teddy bear from when she was little. There’s a theme here, are you seeing it? Yes, it is the thought that counts but only if you actually do something thoughtful. So unless you are ready to break out as the next Rilke or Dr. Suess, skip the heartfelt yet nauseating prose.
2. Everyone wants a gift. Even if she swears up and down that she doesn’t want a gift get her one anyway. It’s simply the right thing to do. Think about it this way: when her co-workers ask her what she got for Valentine’s Day do you want to be the loser who didn’t get his girlfriend a gift?
1. A night with you does not count as a gift.
Emily Torres is a frequent contributor to Young Money. She’s written for Salon.com and Life’s a Bitch Books.