WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Frugal Valentine's Day: Saying I love you on a budget!

Posted February 11, 2013
Updated February 14, 2013

It’s that time of year again when roses are red and violets are blue and retailers want lots of money from you! If you are one of those lovebirds who is wondering what you were thinking when you dropped $60 on 12 flowers or $150 at a steak restaurant last year, you may want to consider some of these tips to a more affordable, and equally as loving, Valentine’s Day.

Here are some thoughts on saving on the flowers, the dinner, the candy and the cards!


It’s all about the roses this time of year. The good news is that for as little as $10, you can take home a dozen of those pretty stems. Through Tuesday, you can pick up a dozen roses at Aldi’s for only $9.99. Many other grocery stores including Lowes Foods and Harris Teeter have them for under $20.00.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to buy roses. There are some gorgeous mixed flower bouquets available at grocery stores for $12 or less. Since many of us have cabinets full of vases, you won’t have to spring for that as well.

If you would rather give a more lasting floral gift, give a plant that will grow flowers year after year, like arose bush.

Instead of flowers, you could give your sweetie (or your kids) a "bouquet" of helium heart balloons. They are only $1 per balloon at The Dollar Tree!


Most frugal option: Eat at home! You can make a fabulous steak dinner for a fraction of the cost of most restaurant meals on Valentine’s Day. There are good deals at most grocery stores for steak and shrimp this week and a bottle of wine at Aldi or Trader Joes is about the cost of one glass of wine at many restaurants. And the big plus is that you won’t be waiting in line to get into a crowded, loud restaurant for your romantic evening. Light some candles, get out the nice dishes, play some sweet music and enjoy the peaceful evening.

If the thought of cooking on Valentine’s ruins the mood completely, then at least get a deal on your meal.

* Go out for lunch instead of dinner – the menu prices are usually less expensive.

* There is no rule that says you have to go out to dinner exactly on February 14th. Go out on a different night to take advantage of weekly specials that some restaurants offer. For instance, Outback currently has a deal going on called No Worry Wednesdays where you can get a full meal for two including multiple courses for $25.

* You could even get take out for the main entrees from your favorite restaurant and then enjoy a peaceful evening at home. Provide your own dessert and drinks and you have saved a bundle.

* Daily deal sites: SaveCity.com, Groupon, Living Social, Twongo, and Moolala have all been offering vouchers for restaurants. With these daily deals sites, you’ll find meals that are 50% off the retail price or better.

* Head to a website called www.eatdrinkdeals.com for a list of restaurant deals and coupons to use this week.

* Entertainment books: Use a coupon from the Entertainment Book or a coupon book like the Citipass book for a Buy One Get One Free deals. You can go to the Entertainment Book’s website and actually see a list of all the Raleigh area restaurants offering coupons in the book. If you don’t have one of these books, ask all your Facebook friends if anyone has a coupon book for your city and the specific restaurant.


If your honey is happy with Hershey’s, Russell Stover or other off the shelf chocolate, it’s time to hit the drug stores. There are many candy deals this week coupled with the drug store reward programs. You can see the deals that started on Sunday on the WRAL Smart Shopper blog.


You can easily drop $5 on a greeting card but you don’t have to. Walmart and some dollar stores sell cards as low as 50 cents each. The Dollar Store, Target, CVS and other stores have a line of cards that are $1 or less.Of course, making a sweet card at home is even more frugal. And how about writing an old-fashioned love letter to your sweetie!

Fun with the Kids

Start the day off with some heart shaped pancakes using a cookie cutter. This year I plan to cut up strawberries and outline the shape of the heart with them.

Send a heart shaped sandwich, heart shaped fruit, heart shaped sugar cookie and a sweet Valentine in your little one's lunch box.  I love these heart shaped fruit bites on skewers. You can't send the skewers to school but the fruit is adorable!

Have your kids make their cards for the grandparents and parents. Homemade cards are fun to make with the kiddos and such a thoughtful gift.  It's a fun activity for you to do together and you probably have all the arts and crafts materials at home already.

Have a scavenger hunt for the kids or your special someone. Place little hearts all over the place with reasons why you love them written on each little note. Give them a hint on each note where they can find the next one. At the last note, have a little stuffed animal or a $1 heart box of Hershey’s or Reeses chocolates waiting for them. Gather up all the sweet notes so they can keep them in a scrapbook to look at later.

Planning For Next Year

Buy clearance Valentines cards and décor after Valentine’s Day this year to use next year.

Buy red wrapped clearance candy after Christmas each year to use for Valentines Day 6 weeks later. The bags of red and green Hershey’s kisses are great. Use the red ones for Valentine’s Day and you can probably figure out something tasty to do with the green ones!

Buy solid color red paper plates, cups and napkins from Christmas clearance each year and then use them at Valentine's Day.

As we all know, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to share a ton of love!



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  • DianeNC Feb 13, 2013

    Redbox is offering a free one-day DVD rental at your local Redbox kiosk (valid through 2/14 only). Promo Code: SWEET

    **Offer is not valid through their app or at Redbox.com

  • Oxymoron02 Feb 12, 2013

    My husband lucks out every year. I'm not really into flowers (they're pointless, and in my mind a gift choice that requires no thought, which is bad, I'm also allergic), nor do I do jewelry (we argued for months about whether or not we should bother getting wedding bands because I don't wear jewelry, I conceded that I would put it on a chain if the band really bothered me), nor expensive anything really. I'm a huge fan of gifts of time, and time doesn't cost anything. Doing things with that time can, but I'm not a fancy person. We've gone out for coffee sans kiddos and called that a date. We've finally gotten around to drinking a bottle of wine (bought on sale of course) and watched a free Redbox rental, or Netflixed something, and called it a date. Having teenagers means not having to pay a babysitter for the little ones. :D

  • FlyingUnderTheRadar Feb 11, 2013

    These are all such fun suggestions!

    At Krispy Kreme you can get a dozen donuts...they'll give you a dozen 'Valentine' cards...each good for a free donut...while supplies last.

    Trader Joe's usually has pretty flowers...orchids make a great gift, also potted spring blossoms, such as daffodils/hyacinth/tulip...that can later be put into the garden...they also have great prices on wine!

  • Amomoftwo Feb 11, 2013

    I also bought a heart shaped post it note pad using my Staples Rewards and wrote notes about why I loved my hubby on about 30 of them and plastered them all over the shower door inside the bathroom, on the wall, on the door and inside the medicine cabinet...and then used the rest inside my teen's car so she didn't see it until she was leaving for school....

  • kcastleberry Feb 11, 2013

    We also buy up candy canes on after Christmas clearance and either tape or glue 2 of them together facing each other in a heart shape and place on the front of a homemade card. You can usually also use pipe cleaner or ribbon on the big candy canes and attach them at the top and bottom to make ornaments and/or garland in heart shapes. We got boxes of Jolly Rancher and Spree flavors a couple of weeks ago for .25 a box!

  • kcastleberry Feb 11, 2013

    My husband and I go to a store (usually Hallmark) and pick out a card for each other. Then we read each other's in the store, put them back and save the money!!! Yep! We are super cheap, but what are you going to do with the card anyway? Hey! It's the thought that counts. We also do 14 days of Valentines. We put little heart shaped notes on the kid's bedroom door with something we love about them starting Feb 1. They look forward to it every day. We end up celebrating in a frugal way for 1/2 the month!

  • Savvysaver Feb 11, 2013

    And I stocked up on Valentine's Day cards for 10-50 cents each at 2 yard sales I went to last summer! We keep a box full of cards for all occasions and when a special day comes up, we go to the box and pick 1 out, instead of having to rush off to the store.

  • Savvysaver Feb 11, 2013

    I went to CVS last night and got my husband's gift! I bought 2 bags of Simple Pleasures and 3 cans of Planter's Peanuts. I had $1.50/1 for the chocolates and $1/1 for Planter's nuts. I already had $10 ECB so I only paid 71 cents and got $5 ECB back! If you don't have ECBs to spend, but have these coupons, it's $10.47 before tax and you get $5 ECB! Great deal if you ask me!

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper Feb 11, 2013

    the sherman, I totally agree. I have a stash of Valentine M&M's I bought a couple weeks ago that will make an appearance on Thursday. I know better than to put them out before them or they will magically disappear in the blink of an eye.

  • thesherman96 Feb 11, 2013

    Faye - hahaha......sometimes. If I can can hide them in a cabinet or freezer before the kids see them. Now if I leave them on the counter and the kids get home from school first, then its over.