What Should It Cost to Say ‘I Love You’?

Is Valentine’s Day about love or money? My heart tells me it should be about love and appreciation for those who matter most to us, but the facts show that Valentine’s Day is truly big business and a billion dollar industry. According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. consumers are expected to fork over almost $17.6 billion this year on Valentine’s gifts for their loved ones. That’s $17.6 billion spent on one day — in the name of love.

The Valentine’s Day Factor

The smart marketers have us scrambling to empty our wallets in order to show just how much we love someone, which explains why Valentine’s Day has become one of the largest retail holidays of the year.

I’m not trying to be a Valentine’s Day scrooge, but it’s estimated that the average woman will spend about $74 and the average man will spend $160 on the holiday. For a moment, let’s assume you’re not even close to average and that you’ll double this amount. Together, that’s more than $500 that you and your sweetheart will spend (or have already spent) for a retail-manufactured day of love.

Maybe this year it would be smart to think about your Valentine’s Day Factor — sort of like my Latte Factor only on steroids.

The Grinch That Stole Valentine’s Day?

I’m not for a second suggesting that you don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. I’m both a romantic and a realist, and you have to celebrate the holiday if you have a significant other (you’d better not forget your mom or grandmother, either).

However, this Valentine’s Day I want you to ask yourself, “How can I make this holiday meaningful and memorable?” Because, honestly, do you even remember what you gave or received last year?

I challenge you to express your true feelings with gifts from the heart rather than from the wallet. And if you’ve already bought Valentine’s Day presents for your special someone, that’s OK — shower them with both kinds of gifts this year and remember my advice for next year.

This Valentine’s Day, try loving rich with gifts that can’t be bought with money. Experience true romance by making a meaningful connection with the person you love, and in the process deepen your relationship and create a lasting memory.

Three Heartfelt Tips

So, to help, I want to share with you my top three heartfelt tips that go above and beyond a price tag to help you create a truly rich relationship this Valentine’s Day.

1. Express your feelings in writing

You don’t have to be a professional writer to craft a truly meaningful love note. There simply is no such thing as a poorly written love note. But if you need help, here are some suggestions.

Write a love letter that tells your loved one just how much they mean to you. But don’t just write to write; take a few moments to put your heart and soul into it.

Dig down and convey what you’re truly feeling. If you lost the person you love (and this could be anyone, not just a significant other), what would you wish you’d told them?

Don’t wait until it’s too late. You’ll be giving a gift that literally costs nothing, and if this simple gesture is all you do this Valentine’s Day, it will mean more than any store-bought card, box of chocolates, or bouquet of flowers ever could.

2. Make a home-cooked meal.

I’m going against tradition with this advice, but in my opinion Valentine’s Day is about the worst possible night of the year to eat out. Restaurants are packed (it’s one of the busiest days of the year for them), the menus are often prix fixe, the prices are inflated, and the staff is overworked.

So this year, stay home and prepare a meal instead. It can be as simple or as elegant as you’d like. Make it special with a cozy table setting, candles, and music. If you don’t cook, then plan a simple picnic in front of the fireplace. Or maybe you could snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie. Turn down the lights, pour two glasses of wine, and settle in for a relaxing evening.

Finally, it’s the perfect time to give your sweetheart the love letter you wrote. Better yet, read it aloud to them!

3. Dream about the future together.

Nothing strengthens a relationship more than having a dream you work on together as a team. Talk about your dreams together, and spend your Valentine’s Day planning your future.

Maybe your dream is to take an exotic trip. Visit one of the popular travel web sites to research destinations and costs, and have some fun planning it together. Or maybe you want to start saving to buy your first home. Sit down at the computer together and go on a few virtual home tours. Envision the kind of house you see yourselves in. Finally, if a vacation home is your future, use the Internet to find that perfect island getaway that you hope to someday own.

Then take the money you would have spent on each other for Valentine’s Day and make a deposit into your dream savings account instead. Work together to save for your dreams and you’ll find that they soon become a reality.

For Love and Money

I started this by asking if Valentine’s Day is about love or money. In truth, it’s about both — but the truth is, it was what you make it.

This year, I say make Valentine’s Day more love-based and less spending-based. You may be surprised by just how rich it makes you and your loved ones feel. Let me know how you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day this year and comment below!

Live Rich,
David Bach



24 thoughts on “What Should It Cost to Say ‘I Love You’?

  1. I am making a home-cooked meal with a homemade cherry pie for dessert! Even made each family member their own Valentine’s Day card with leftover pink paper.

  2. I’m about to leave to pick up my husband, returning from a business trip. We’ll be dining at Sweet Tomatoes on a coupon (less than $20). I’m bringing candles, place mats, and special napkins. His gift? His favorites special handmade soap (shaped as a heart) and a roll of Necco wafers, plus a card for now and one for later. A walk on the beach when we get home. What could be better!

  3. A few years ago my husband and I realized how much we were spending every year on greeting cards. It is really crazy since you look at them for a few days and then throw them out. Over the years we saved the ones that were truly special.
    Now we go back a look through the cards from years past and re-give them to each other. We started a trend with our friends and now we all do this with Christmas cards. Every little bit helps..

  4. I think Valentines is about Love. For Valentines, I made my wife a dish from one of her favorite healthy cookbooks. Her gift to me, she ate it.

    Yes, I ate it too. Surprisingly enough, healthy was good tasting.

  5. I’m with you on this, David …I made the card for my husband with my own text…and we are not going out to eat because of the crowds. My husband feels my cooking beats most restaurant food anyway. However, I did order weeks ago a customized candy bar from Chocomize.com… he loved it!!!!

  6. I agree with some of this. Flowers and chocolates just don’t do it for me on Valentines Day. My husband has now figured this out. A card is a must because he isn’t much of a writer so this does most of it for him. Gifts? We both buy what we need/want when we want, so a gift seems very unauthentic. However, if I am eyeing something and it us close to s holiday, I will tell him so he can get it and we all win!

  7. Hi David, luckily my husband and I feel the same, we never feel like we have to buy any of that crap from the stands set up at gas stations. That so called chocolate is mostly toxic chemicals anyway. Our romantic getaway is a long walk along the beach where we talk and talk and walk and walk. It’s nice to get out together and re-bond and face the future together. It’s an activity that strengthens all four quadrants of life!
    walk the talk!

  8. Happy Valentine David,

    Thank you very much for your three heartfelt tips. Writing, cooking and communication are becoming a lost art. Depositing the money which would be spent on Valentine’s Day into one’s Dream account is an excellent suggestion.

    Thank you

  9. David,

    Could not agree with you more. First, I can cook a way better meal for my wife then any top chef in the Atlanta area for a 1/4 of the price I would pay on “premium” valentines day.

    I infact went into my hometown wine store and had a conversation with Scott, the manager, married guy of 15 years and myself of 12 and we both agreed that it is way more romantic to spend the time and money at home.

    On the other side of things, I have two girls, 9 and 11. You don’t get a kid sitter, take your wife out and leave your other 2 sweethearts at home. I treated all 3 ladies to a top notch dinner (clams, mussels, scallops) and a steak that would slap the inside of your mouth.

    Let’s remember what love is really about here. It’s not just for your significant other, it’s to set an example for the generations to come.

    I know you and I are in the same mindset Dave.

    God Bless,

    Josh Boxer

  10. Very true! For us Valentines Day is like any other day. I almost forgot it was a holiday until late in the evening. I’m so busy keeping up with everyday life until I forget about all of these “special” days. We told each other Happy V. Day., gave a big hug, ate dinner at home as usual(I didn’t want to go out because I have tons of stuff cooked and in containers-why let it go to waste?)
    Our daughter in college sent us a nice family Valentine powerpoint slideshow by email. None of us wanted candy because we are trying to lose weight, and I already have beautiful discounted (50% off)flowers on the table that I brought during the weekend. The main thing is that we spent nothing, is grateful for another beautiful day and is still on track towards being debt free.

  11. I’m so with you on this. As I’m writing this, my husband just brought me fried cheese sticks on a plate with marinara sauce. And that’s just the appetizer. He is also grilling a steak and making a wonderful dinner for us. And we are staying away from the crowds and saving a bunch of money!! :-)

  12. I had to share this on my fb wall! I SOOOO agree with your David. And thanks for not only pointing out the problem, but for providing practical solutions in which people who do celebrate the day can do so without taxing their wallets! Let’s get back to the basics! Thanks!

  13. It should not be any money involve!
    If so, then you are performing a business deal. Our world has changed to be very very complicated and messy and that is the problem!
    If you could step back and think with calm mind, then hopefully you are able to see what I see Now. I was the same as the rest of people in the world, but when you grow older and see/hear the world with real people examples, then you know what I mean. Treasure your love with yours love ones till the end as nothing is so beautiful from the start till end. My best blessing to all.

  14. I agree with you 100%. I was amazed that the Valentine’s card I bought for my husband cost me $9.62. My husband’s card for me was almost $11.00 ! That is crazy! We vowed that we would not support gauging anymore and make our own cards with heartfelt sentiments.

  15. David:

    I agree with you. Twenty-five years ago today, the love of my life proposed. Today we celebrated by sharing small tokens (less than $10 total)of great love. Our words to each other hold the greatest value. I cooked a french dinner from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, and we are feeling rich. It has taken us two decades to focus on what matters – love.

  16. Excellent advises. My husband spent I don’t know how many hours trying to make a CD for me with pics of the most memorable moments of our first year of marriage. It was touching and I can imagine how much effort and thoughts he put on that. It made me cry. So wonderful. I gave to him a card, a home-made romantic scratch-off card, and he won, a library card with the ten things a love of him, including me, and other simple but thoughtful things.
    David, you are helping me very much with your advices. Thank you and happy Valentines.

  17. Hey David,
    Thanks for the encouragement. This valentines day I had the day off, so I went to the market bought two new york steaks, baking potatoes, asparagus and chocolate dipped strawberries. I grilled the steaks, broiled the potatoes, asparagus,set the table with candles, turned on Pandora music radio,(the romance station =D opened a bottle of wine we were saving for a special occasion and booyah! The best V-day yet!

  18. I too think Valentine’s is a manufactured holiday.Having said that, I don’t mind marking it with small gestures to show people I love them.
    I baked cookies for my husband…he gets that to be very meaningful as I am not a fan of the pastry arts haha.

  19. I think it is ridiculous to spend extra on Valentine’s Day.
    A home cooked favorite meal and spending the night together even just watching a movie! That’s what it is all about for us. We have rare time together as my husband works days with a two hour commute on both ends of the day, and I work at night… So, we look forward to V Day, when we schedule in that special time just to be together.

  20. I picked azaleas from my garden, made cards from clip art on the computer printed on old file folders cut to size, and spent $2 on some heart shaped candy! I think those kind of gifts radiate the love which was poured into them!

  21. I was actually away on work trip, but i was chating with Monica my wife soon after mid nite on phone, about this and that. in the morning when i woke up at the hotel, i transfer a USD50 to our Emergency Savings account.

  22. This year my husband gave me my valentine early. I was away for the weekend. He asked me to stop on my way home to pick up a cooked chicken and call him when I was on my way I thought that a little strange but he stated he just wanted the veggies warm when I arrived. When I walked in the door the table was set and candles were lit all over the house. The house was cleaned, mopped and furniture rearranged. What a beautiful valentine gift. :)

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