Financial Tips for Valentine’s Day Gifts
By Kathryn M. D’Imperio
The special day for lovers apparently comes with a price tag these days…. Whether you are seeking the perfect piece of jewelry, state-of-the-art video game system, iPod or another pricey present, your credit card might just do most of the work for you. To prevent your plastic from kicking into overdrive, use some discretion when shopping for your sweetheart and realize that he or she loves you for you, not for the number or cost of the presents you purchase when February 14 rolls around.
The typical dinner and a movie date works as a great standby for an evening together, but if the two of you share this outing several times a month, it may get a bit stale. Surprise your sweetheart with a special date that costs even less so you can get him or her the present you’ve had your eye on. Ice-skating and stargazing, though perhaps a bit chilly if living up north, present unique date ideas that cost very little, if anything. Romantic and inexpensive… these options conveniently leave necessary funds for the Valentine’s gift.
In order to get your Valentine the perfect gift regardless of the price, some savings plans may be necessary prior to the actual purchase. Here are some tips to ensure that you have enough funds available to wow your sweetheart with a special Valentine treat:
– Keep a good track record of responsible personal finance behavior. Pay bills on time with at least the minimum amount due, monitor your spending to avoid overlimit fees and try to keep your balance as low as possible, if not completely paid off. By keeping your remaining balance low, you open up additional dollar amounts before hitting your credit limit. No one wants to get slammed with a finance charge for spending over his or her limit!
– Save up money along the way and put the rest on plastic. So maybe you are planning to pop the big question on or around Valentine’s Day…. That could surely cost a pretty penny, but if you save up for months prior to the big date, your credit card bill won’t seem quite as painful when you remember you have a secret stash squirreled away somewhere for the special occasion. Do your best to pay for the whole thing in full. If you must put your purchase on plastic, pay off as much as you can and then consider doing a zero percent balance transfer to avoid racking up interest.
– Limit your spending to reserve funds for your Valentine purchase. Forego the chicken cheese steak for lunch, leave the second bottle of wine on the shelf and forget about that new TV you’ve been dreaming of… with a little self control in your spending habits, you will open up the gates to more affordable bill payments and less regret when putting bigger purchases on your cards.
– Preplan how much you are willing to spend. Once you have determined what you want to spend on your Valentine’s gift, do not go over that amount. Before jumping on the Internet or leaving your home, figure out a set amount that you will spend and stick to it, no matter what!
– Shop the sales. Notice how stores start setting up for Valentine’s Day right after Christmas? Also notice how many items are drastically reduced or put on clearance after the holidays? Store management officials are smart enough to know that most people just finished spending all their money on holiday shopping.
Why not pick out your Valentine’s gift while the sales are still going strong? If you wait for the week before or the week of Valentine’s Day, you will likely be forced to pay full price for the same item you could have bought at a 50% discount a month or two ago.
Also avoid impulse shopping, as it generally encourages buyers to just pick something and be done with it. Put some time and thought into the perfect present, select the total price you are willing to pay and stick to your guns. Bear in mind that Valentine’s Day embodies the passion and romance of a relationship and the intimate connection shared by two people in love; love itself is not defined by the numbers on a price tag.