Happy Valentine’s Day! Valentine’s Day is a ‘holiday’ full of unspoken expectations. According to Fortune.com US Consumers spent about $18.2 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2017. These are often unspoken expectations that your partner /girlfriend/boyfriend will buy you flowers, chocolates, take you out for a romantic candlelit meal, and other cliche acts of devotion or love (interesting, I was also told lots of luxury goods like Louis Vuitton hand bags are bought for Valentine’s Day). Frankly, I’d rather have a no spend minimalist Valentine’s Day.
I have never been one for large displays of romantic gestures. I find it cheesy don’t like having attention drawn to myself. A guy I was dating once bought me a large bouquet of flowers and had it delivered to my workplace. Sure, it was super sweet but it made me very embarrassed to have attention drawn to me at work, and I didn’t appreciate the gesture as much as he would have liked, which I think upset him at the time.
Updated February 2022
Here are some ways to mark the occasion today with a focus on minimalism.
Have the Talk about Valentine’s Day
As we all know, communication is key to relationships and it’s important to clarify assumptions and unvoiced expectations you have of each other. This is probably the most important thing you can do before Valentine’s Day in order to set the tone for Valentine’s Day. Discussing your expectations for Valentine’s Day will help decrease the likelihood of hurt feelings and disagreements on the actual day.
My husband is not very romantic and he can be very practical. He’s an inner score card type guy. It works for us because I’m not very romantic and can be very practical too. After we got married, we had the talk about what our expectations were for holidays and ‘special days’, such as Christmas, our birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and our anniversary. Setting the tone for the rest of the year helped us understand what we expected on the special day, so that there are no hurt feelings.
I agree, it’s not an easy discussion to have, especially if you are in the beginning stages of your relationship or are in the dating phase, but being able to communicate what your expectations are and what your feelings are will do wonders for your relationship.
People are not mind readers.
I read somewhere that your partner is the ‘keeper of your feelings’ so when they respect your feelings and when you respect their feelings, then you know you have a keeper!
Find out your Partner’s Love Language
When I first started dating my now husband, he accepted my ‘crazy’ (or so my friends all told me — they know I can be crazy) because I asked him to do all these quizzes, like the Myers Briggs Personality Test to test our compatibility (we are both 78% introverted).
I also made him do this free quiz for to find out his love language. Thankfully we were very similar in that regards too. Usually the love language that you GIVE is the love language that you WANT for yourself. We valued quality time and acts of service above gifts and words of affirmation.
This explains why an elaborate gift ($100+ bouquet of flowers) didn’t really impress me as much as the guy I was dating had hoped (especially since he was in HELOC debt and it was a bone of contention between us at that time). Eventually that debt was a deal breaker.
This is the Humanetrics Myers Briggs Personality test that my husband and I did when we were first dating.
There are 5 Love Languages according to author Gary Chapman:
- Acts of service
- Words of affirmation
- Physical touch
- Quality time
The 5 Love Languages book is great, but you can also do a free quiz to find out your love language.
Cook at Home or Grab Takeout and Have a Picnic
Whoever usually does the cooking at home probably would like to take a break (unless you or your significant other absolutely LOVES cooking). So whomever doesn’t cook could do the cooking, or you can grab takeout and have a picnic instead (unless you live somewhere where it is freezing cold in February). If you do take out of course you will be spending a bit of money!
The $100 per person meal isn’t necessary (though it is considered technically minimalist since you’re not adding to clutter!).
In the past few years I am more relaxed about adhering to a no-spend Valentine’s Day. Going out for dinner (without the kids) would be nice, sure, but it doesn’t have to be on Valentine’s Day right?
Write a Love Letter
Have you seen the prices of greeting cards lately?! Some cards are over $7.95! That’s the price of a filling meal in some places. In recent years I’ve been very reluctant to buy greeting cards just because they are so expensive.
The majority though probably don’t care because Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending holiday of the year (the first one is Christmas).
Writing a heart-felt letter instead of giving a card can save you money because why do you need a card company to express your feelings when you can easily do it yourself?
I’ve saved some really sweet letters or notes (that he wrote on some scrap paper) that my husband wrote. None of them needed to be on a $7.95 greeting card. They still ‘spark joy’ for me so I haven’t thrown them away (sometimes I can be a bad minimalist!). That being said, if you do want to get a card, you can easily grab some cute ones at the dollar store these days or even make one yourself.
If you want to see the pure strength of letters, have a gander at this Storycorps video of Danny and Annie, it brought me to tears when I watched it. They were married for 27 years until he died of cancer, and he wrote letters to her regularly. She saved them all.
Spend Quality Time Together and Turn Off Your Phone
Most importantly, Valentine’s Day serves as a reminder for us to value our significant other and the contributions they make to improve our quality of life on a day-to-day basis.
Even if it seems like it is a holiday full of commercialization, you have the power to take what you want out of this day and sculpt it to fit your needs.
In the days of everyone being hyperconnected and literally addicted to their smart phones, if you turn off your phone and really listen and be present for your partner, you’ll likely get more quality time than one would get spending $100 on a bouquet of flowers and another $100 per plate on a dinner out.
Especially when you are barely talking to each other at the aforementioned $100 per plate dinner and instead busy scrolling on Instagram on your phone.
Nothing is ever permanent, relationships change and evolve, but we can be present today and enjoy each other’s company as best as we can.
We can make the romantic notion to continually make the conscious effort to support our partners every day.
Readers, what do you and your partner usually do for Valentine’s Day?
GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.