Love is in the air and savings should be in the wallet, according to money expert Clark Howard.
Consumers are expected to spend an average of $192.80 on Valentine’s this year, according to data from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. That figure is $17 more on average than what Americans spent on the holiday last year.
But you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars! With a little strategy, you may be able to get the Valentine’s Day items you need for much cheaper.
How To Save Money on Valentine’s Day: 4 Easy Steps
Clark says the key to saving money on Valentine’s Day is to pre-plan. The earlier you can get a jump on the items you need, the more likely you are to save money.
Here are some money-saving suggestions from Clark:
1. Buy Flowers Days Before Valentine’s Day
If you’re accustomed to buying flowers for your significant other, Clark says it makes financial sense to purchase them farther out rather than a day before or on Valentine’s Day.
“Forever ago, I started a tradition with my wife Lane, where I get her roses two weeks before Valentine’s Day,” Clark says. Although several of them have died already, Clark says his early purchase of two dozen roses is a big money saver.
“The reason why I do that is that the roses are not surcharged yet, and so I get them for her well in advance, which shows I’m doing pre-planning,” he adds.
So buying flowers several days before the holiday is a great way to keep money in your pocket. But what if you’re crunched for time? Clark says there are still some ways to save on Valentine’s Day flowers.
2. Know Where To Buy Cheap Flowers
Even though it may be convenient to shop with one of the big online floral retailers, you should be mindful that they traditionally bump up prices for Valentine’s Day. That’s why Clark wants you to comparison shop for Valentine’s flowers, even if you’re shopping last minute.
“If you are somebody who’s Mr. Last Minute, and you’re looking at buying roses, know that there are a number of outlets that sell them very affordably on Valentine’s Day,” he says.
Here are some places you should check for cheap flowers, according to Clark:
Try the Supermarkets
Clark says Trader Joe’s has been selling affordable flowers for a long time and that many grocery stores have begun to copy them in offering “extremely affordable roses on Valentine’s Day.”
Here are some top supermarkets to look for cheap Valentine’s Day flowers:
Check the Nurseries
The supermarkets that have floral departments will often have multiple staffers on hand to accommodate people dashing in for bouquets. Nurseries, meanwhile, see their business drop off in the middle of winter and tend to offer high-quality products at a low price to reintroduce themselves to customers this time of year, Clark says.
Avoid the Florist
While your local florist may be located close to where you live, they typically won’t be as competitively priced as you would like.
“As for florists, that’s an expensive way to do it,” Clark says, referring to buying Valentine’s Day flowers. “I’m not dissing you if you’re a hard-working florist, I’m just trying to give people the lower cost ways to buy flowers.”
Shop the Online Floral Companies, But Watch the Prices
Some online sellers will undercut traditional florists on roses even during this holiday, but sometimes online florists will keep their prices high. You just have to check.
For example, about 10 days out from Valentine’s Day, I checked the prices for roses (48 stems) on 1-800 Flowers and the price was $294.99.
In contrast, a 50-stem set of roses from Costco.com costs $49.99. Of course, prices are subject to change as you get closer to the holiday, so it’s good to research them the day you plan to purchase.
3. Know The Best Time to Buy Chocolates
“The right time to buy Valentine’s chocolates is the day after Valentine’s Day,” Clark says.
The reasoning here is that retailers typically raise prices for all products associated with Valentine’s Day on the actual holiday. If you purchase just after the holiday, prices will drop back down and you’ll get the item for less.
4. Know the Best Time To Eat a Valentine’s Meal
Similarly, Clark says the best time to eat a Valentine’s meal is not on the holiday itself, but on the days surrounding it.
“Take your sweetheart to dinner the day before Valentine’s Day or the day after,” he says. Also, eating out on Valentine’s Day may not give you the romantic experience you think.
Clark says there’s a good chance you may have to deal with some inconveniences that make the occasion less than ideal:
- Some restaurants are incredibly stressed and stretched during holidays like Valentine’s Day.
- In many cases, the establishment will have to bring in inexperienced people to help with the overflow crowd.
- The restaurant may have one of those special menus with higher prices and few options around them.
Clark says by thinking about what you want to buy and shopping for those items in advance — in essence, pre-planning — you can save a lot of money for Valentine’s Day, even when it comes to choosing where you’re going to enjoy dinner.
“If you do things that show pre-planning, you’re going to have a much more personal and warm experience in a restaurant. It’s going to be a better experience.”
Lastly, don’t forget about Clark.com’s sister site ClarkDeals.com, which will have the latest prices on many Valentine’s Day items you may want and need. Remember to check the site early and often. Better yet, sign up to receive deals in your inbox.