7 ways to save money on Valentine’s Day gifts. (And maybe win $500 cash.)

thWondering how much you can afford to spend on your loved one this Feb. 14, or whether you can afford to spend anything at all?

Join me and some three dozen other personal finance bloggers as we address that very topic.

What’s in it for you, besides our ideas? A shot at a $500 cash prize, that’s what.

The giveaway is courtesy of Rather-Be-Shopping.com, a site that’s been helping consumers save money with online coupons since 2000. One reader will be chosen by Rafflecopter to win $500. (The prize will be sent via PayPal, so readers outside the United States are cordially invited to enter.)

To see which other blogs are participating, check the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this post. You’ll be doing that anyway, I expect, since a few seconds of your time will put you in the running for a $500 payday.

Show some (frugal) love

As a frugalist, my Valentine’s Day advice is simple: Spend little except time. Here are seven ways to make a maximum impact with minimal expense.

1. Do a dirty job. Make up a certificate offering your services for a job that your sweetheart is dreading: picking up a winter’s worth of dog poo from the back yard, say, or raking mulch off the perennial beds. Then make good on the promise – in fact, suggest potential days for you to do these things.

2. Cooking = love. When I was going through a divorce and attending college in midlife, I was pretty broke. Among the frugal holiday gifts I gave to my daughter were two certificates for homemade pumpkin pies. (I did specify “at least 24 hours advance notice required.”) No doubt your sweetheart has a favorite dish you could offer.

3. Laundry duty. This was another gift to my daughter that Christmas – a handful of certificates for “one load of laundry washed, dried and folded” (this included the quarters for the washer room – she was broke, too) and “one item of hand laundry.” Seriously: Wouldn’t you love it if someone took care of your washing some weekend?

4. The book of love. You know all those pictures of your sweetie on your smartphone or digital camera? Print out some of the best and place them into one of those  inexpensive photo books (look in the dollar store or in the dollar section at Michael’s or Jo-Ann Fabrics). Write up cards for the facing pages: a funny caption, your memory of what happened the day the photo was shot, or something you love and admire about this person. Ideally, at least one photo would be the two of you.

Hands-on gifting

5. Foot rub. You know you want one. So does your sweetheart. If you really want to gild the lily, preface it with a hot Epsom salts soak, light some candles and have the lucky recipient’s favorite music playing softly. Alternates: Head rub, hand rub (our computer- and text-pummeled digits can use a little pampering), facial massage (with special attention paid to the jaw area, where tension may reside).

6. Tame the clutter. Offer to help with a long-overdue chore, whether it’s cleaning out the garage or creating order in a chaotic home office.

7. Hot wheels. Offer to wash and detail your loved one’s vehicle. (See how-to tips on The Family Handyman website.) Do this at your place. Afterwards, get cleaned up and put on the outfit s/he likes best before you deliver the vehicle back. Your sweetheart will find this very auto-erotic.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

468 ad


  1. Maybe laundry duty is a good idea for this year. Not sure if she’d let me do it though because she’ll think that I’ll mess up. And I probably will, lol. Maybe somethign else like the dirty chores. That’d be a good one.

  2. Since I’ve been unemployed for almost a year I’ve realized (through necessity) that simple is so much better. So this year he’ll get a home baked coconut cake (baked with love of course!). Happy Valentine’s Day!

    • Donna Freedman

      @Sue: Mmmmmm, coconut cake…And did you enter the contest? If you win the $500 what a nice V-Day treat for you.

  3. I’m single, so the only presents I give are to my niece, a 3 year old that is completely happy with stickers (pictures cut from free address labels sent to me from charities asking for money) or taken from my childhood hoard of stickers. As well as some chocolates from the freezer stash I got free using coupons (Godiva!) thawed of course. The other recipient is my dog, a massage, belly rub, egg for breakfast and some extra treats and he’ll be a happy camper. Me? My gift to myself will be to list more of my junk on ebay to sell for the money 🙂

  4. Great list! I must admit that whenever I do the laundry while my wife is at work, or pick-up the house, or do the dishes, or vacuum, Valentine’s day or not, it is the biggest turn-on for her! All of the sudden I am Brad Pitt and she is jumping my bones! Guys take note…

    Thanks for participating in this!

    • Donna Freedman

      @Kyle: I’ve heard it said there’s nothing sexier than a man who pitches in and does his share without being asked, and who doesn’t expect a ticker-tape parade for doing so.

  5. “auto-erotic”-Hahaha, I would laugh more but I’m too tired from all of the shoveling.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Sonya Ann: Well, now Den knows what he’s getting for Valentine’s Day — a way to get into the house.
      Ibuprofen is your friend.

  6. My friends who have been married for 52 years always go to the card department (Valentine’s and birthdays) and show each other the card they would give if they were BUYING and exchanging cards. They read their cards and put them back on the shelf. Really, this couple can afford anything they want or need.

  7. ImJuniperNow

    Alas, I am the only one who loves me this year, and vice versa.

    Perhaps my cats will give me a Dollar Store card with an IOU for candy purchased after Valentine’s Day.

    Perhaps I will win $500 and have a blast on EBay.

    Thanks, Donna!

    • Donna Freedman

      @ImJuniperNow: If you win, please e-mail and let me know. I’d love it if one of the S&T readers walked away with 500 big ones.

  8. I entered the contest; I think. But what I was looking for was the suggestions/ideas that everyone was offering. Can you tell me how to get to those? Or do I need to go back the entry site, and write down all of the participants, and go to each site individually and search for the Valentine’s plans?



    • Donna Freedman

      @Nancy: It looks like you’ll have to search for the participants by name. Open a second tab and do it that way, vs. writing it down? The sponsor said he might do a round-up of links to all the participating posts, but it hasn’t been posted yet. Of course, the giveaway runs until Feb. 25 so perhaps he’s waiting a bit.
      If such a list becomes available, I will post it.
      Thanks for reading, and good luck in the contest.

  9. We will go out to dinner, either before or after the holiday, and it will be with some kind of discount and/or coupon. Then we will most likely see a movie – discounted or at home. We will send our daughter and son-in-law a card, and maybe something that does not cost a fortune to send to England. Probably send my sisters cards as well.

  10. Sorry to be OT but what the heck is going on at Frugal Nation? They seem to be only posting old material.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Emma: Not sure what you mean…There’s a new post every day.

      • Maybe it is me who has ended up in LaLa land, but the posts are coming up dated from 2012, so I assumed they were pulling up old ones.

        • Donna Freedman

          Hmmm…I just checked Frugal Nation and am seeing 2013 dates. Odd.

          • My most recent post on Frugal Nation is about going to the movies for free, and it is dated Feb. 27 2012.

            Is it just my date that is off but that IS the most recent blog???

            Sorry, but I can’t post on FN.

          • Donna Freedman

            @Emma: My most recent post is about preparing for the blizzard. Try this URL:
            If that doesn’t work, let me know and I’ll ask someone over there why this might be happening.
            Thanks for the heads-up.

  11. New Gardens

    I spent less than $5 on each of the kids, with a small felt bag for each, in which will have: a homemade valentine, a bottle of nail polish and a small lotion for the Girl and a clearance umbrella for the boy (he needed it!). For the spouse and I, we’re all out of coupons and gift cards, so I’ll pull out beef tenderloin (from our side of freezer beef) and have a candlelit dinner at home after the kids go to bed… Beef Wellington, a bottle of Chuck and a night with no TV and no iPads… maybe start a puzzle and a fire in the fireplace.

    • Donna Freedman

      @New Gardens: Sounds very romantic, being unplugged and all.
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  12. Hubby and I always have a frugal VDay, but we alway DO something. I always get him some flowers and he always makes me dinner. Of course, he makes dinner almost every night. But on Vday it’s usually a heart shaped meatloaf. Yummy. This year I’m taking a 4 day weekend just to hang out with him.

  13. For all the people shoveling out this weekend, the best Valentine’s Gift might be a lengthy back massage.

    My husband & I like to bake each other our favorite desserts. Sometimes having different taste in food isn’t so bad.

  14. Katherine

    For Valentine’s Day this year, hubby and I are doing major renos to the house and didn’t want to add to the additional clutter by purchasing something to store or never use or candy that nobody in the house really needs. So for the family, we are subscribing to Netflix. Our college age daughters will be thrilled to “finally” get it and we will also enjoy the subscription. We figured that by the time we added up purchasing something for everyone, the monthly rate of $8 was well worth the investment.

  15. The gift of actual TIME- dedicated to someone. An hour or two spent completely available for that person. No PC, laptops, ipads, ipods, tablets, twitter, facebook, phone (unless that time must be via long distance) TV or radio. Simple, old-fashioned time. We have become so used to the extra-media We forget that sometimes a personal chat is a comfort, and a welcomed gift this Valentine’s Day!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *