Friday, February 11, 2011

Make Love, not Debt, This Valentine's Day

Well, it's that time of year again. Valentine's Day. The time when I start to think about falling off my get healthier kick only to face massive amount of candy at every grocery store. When I'm glad I don't have a TV to remind me "Diamonds are forever" or to hawk some celebrity's new perfume to me. When I'm glad I've gotten to the chapter in Annie Leonard's Story of Stuff to dissuade me from wanting any new jewelry.

Valentine's Day is a lot like Christmas, in my opinion. The whole reason for the holiday is completely forgotten. Even if you're going the secular route for Christmas, at least you can tell the story of a man named Nicholas (now popularly known as Saint Nick) who disguised himself when he'd give poor orphans stuff they really needed to survive. How many people know who St. Valentine was or what he did to merit a holiday?

Here's my take on Valentine's-if you insist on buying something for your significant other, then please don't use debt to do it. Have the money in your bank account before you use it. I've pledged to have a Debt Free Valentine's Day. Will you do the same?

I digress. I'm really writing this because of this article and its related charts from the National Retail Federation.

The trends are pretty significant. If we can have a $20-cheaper V-Day in 2009 and 2010 with our relationships intact (based on divorce rates not fluctuating too much between the 2005-2009 period), then why can't we stay frugal?

Check out this quote:
Couples this year will spend an average of $68.98 on their significant other or spouse, up from $63.34 last year...As usual, men will spend the most on Valentine’s Day gifts. The average man plans to shell out more than twice as much ($158.71) as the average woman ($75.79).
Isn't that kind of obnoxious? Men are more or less expected to shell out more on their ladies than vice versa. What kind of equality is that? Poor dudes, especially since they don't know the ecological and inhumane horrors required for the production of the jewelry they will almost certainly feel required to purchase.

On top of that, can anyone really afford to buy such expensive gifts just six or seven weeks after one of the most expensive Christmases on record? I know we're officially out of the recession and all, but our national savings has plummeted while national use of credit is creeping upwards steadily again.

If you used credit to buy Christmas gifts, then you shouldn't consider buying a Valentine's gift. At all. Explain why you're not spending money honestly ("Honey, I want to pay this credit card bill off so we can save money later and do something really special and create a memory that will last forever" should go over pretty well). If you absolutely must give a gift, then get creative. Make something for less than $10. There are tons of frugal sites that have great ideas.

So, DG, what are you doing for Valentine's Day? I have no idea. I refuse to pay local baby-sitters the going rate of $10/hr/kid. That gets really expensive really quickly for three kids! I'll probably swap a night of baby-sitting with one of my girlfriends and celebrate a week or four late. I'd like the hubs and I to DO something together. LivingSocial has a $20 2-hr painting class deal right now. Maybe we can take advantage of that. I'll let you know whenever we get around to celebrating. At the very least, we'll share a glass of white wine and a piece of "nice" chocolate (the "fancy" flavored stuff Aldi is selling right now). Without a doubt, our Valentine's Day will be DEBT FREE.

Challenge: The whole idea of the holiday is LOVE. What does your sig o absolutely love, and how can you do something related to that inexpensively and sincerely? It's a tough one, I know, but you've got a fabulous brain. I know you'll come up with something fabulous!

-Domestic Goddess out.

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