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.
33 thoughts on “Have a No Spend Minimalist Valentine’s Day”
You made him take quizzes? That is so funny. He is definitely a keeper just for agreeing:)
I totally agree with the Valentine’s Day minimalist approach:)
And I may have a post coming up on the subject too, so I will link yours:)
@Caroline- Haha! Yeah, it was very early on in the dating relationship too- I don’t like to waste time! He’s definitely a keeper because we had similar love languages too. Thank you, I look forward to reading it!
Cool post, with humors. I like it. As the Valentine’s day is close to the Chinese New Year (Feb 16), we decided to combine them. We’ll eat out, most probably the American buffett. Though I’m working on the weight loss this year, probably it’s okay to take an exception for one meal. We don’t spend much on holidays or gifts, very practical.
@Helen- That sounds like a lovely date! I love buffets- they are good in moderation and I don’t think you need to worry about weight loss if you go just one time, on exception!
Okay, I’m a sooooo with you on the price of greeting cards!!! WTH?!!! I almost never buy them now, because they are so ridiculously priced. And it sounds like you and I married the same types…practical to a fault sometimes. But since we’re right there with them, it all works out!
@CashflowKat- I think greeting cards are even more $ with the poor exchange rate in Canada. Haha yes, practical to a fault! I call him Mr. Roboto sometimes.
Ha! I like the no-spend concept! Let’s create a movement!
I think you are in the right to find out as much as you can about a guy you are dating early on…gotta shake any skeletons out of the closet early! He sounds like a pretty standup dude so well done!
I make sure to call my parents – I like to think Valentine’s Day is a day to just spread the love! And it makes their day too.
Acts of service win me over so much too. If Mr. DS pours me a glass a wine, tells me to go take a bath while he gets the kiddo to bed, and does the dishes…odds are high in his favor for the night. Lol!
@Mrs. DS- Yes, no spend V-day, that has a catchy ring to it. That’s very sweet to call your parents! And Mr. DS pouring a glass of wine- that is A-plus in my books as well! Hopefully Mr. DS reads that comment and does that for Valentine’s Day for you! 😉
When we were younger, he used to buy me stuff and I would get this happy joy at the moment (because I like surprises at times) as long as it’s not in front of public haha. But I agree that nothing is better than spending quality time together. I love the thoughtful and frugal valentine’s idea. TBH, I was never a huge fan of this day because it’s just a way for companies to scam our money hahaha…
Before we moved in together, I used to make him cards, collages, and different types of crafts that were very personal. A lot better than spending $7.95 on those hand made cards!! He doesn’t like how I haven’t been making them as often… I feel so bad now! >.<
When you wrote:
"We valued quality time and acts of service above gifts and words of affirmation" I was thinking… wow! That was the results we got too when we did the test a few months ago. Not to say that we don't like gifts, but I guess we prefer quality time and acts of service more…
@fin$avvypanda- So nice of you to make thoughtful crafts for your fiancee! I think I was much sweeter before marriage too, now I just eat most of the chips and leave him a few chips in the bag if he’s lucky as a thoughtful gesture. Things fall by the wayside once you live together or move in together! Haha, wait until you have children! Things will really change. That’s cool that you did the 5 Love Languages quiz recently!
I remember our first ever Valentine Day together. Since Mother with Cents doesn’t like the color red, I gave a pink rose and took her out to a really nice steakhouse in SF. Sounded like a really nice gesture especially for Valentine’s but for Mother with Cents, she was more worried about how much I spent on the dinner and wasn’t into flowers since she’s allergic to it. I learned that I was sucked into this consumerism of Valentine’s and that everyone has different ways to enjoy your time together. You don’t need to look for a gift and go out to dinner on a day everyone is celebrating with your loved one. It’s more about the quality of time you spend together as you mentioned GYM!! Whenever we feel like going out to eat is when we go not because everyone else is doing it.
@Kris-Awe! That’s when you know you got a keeper- she worried about you spending your money!! I think the dating unknowns and trying to impress the other with fancy meals is a ‘right of passage’ I guess for many couples.
All good points! My wife and I do not have any hard and fast rules with regards to the giving of gifts, etc. One basic thing we agree on is to not spend money we don’t have on trivialities. I often get her a card on Valentine and the odd times have bought other gifts. She does not fancy flowers, which is great, because then I do not feel obliged to waste any money buying them 😉
We usually buy something, but buy it together (it’s normally something for the house). Other times, we’ve agreed not to buy anything because we’re taking a trip and want to save the money. I don’t think we’ve given each other individual gifts for some years now.
@Miguel- Wow, that’s great! My husband and I agreed to get each other a gift for our birthdays and we capped it at a certain amount, and then other days (Valentine’s, Christmas, anniversary) we are not doing gifts.
I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s day and we don’t do much to celebrate it in our house. We’ve gone out for dinner before but it’s always so expensive and so many restaurants do a set menu that doesn’t compare to their regular dishes. Now we almost always stay in and cook something nice at home.
My bf does usually buy me a box of chocolates but we don’t exchange presents.
@Sarah- Oh you are so right about the regular dishes! We went to The Boathouse one year for that special set menu and it was PACKED. Chocolates is a nice touch! Can’t go wrong with a consumable item!
Great article! My husband and I never do Valentine’s Day, but my birthday is in February so when he takes me out for lunch (cheap sushi, my favourite), I tell people it’s a Bday/Vday date. Other than that, I think flowers are a waste and Valentine’s Day chocolates are such a cash-grab. We also don’t give each other Christmas gifts either and we usually book a trip for our Anniversary, so we’re not much on gift giving.
@Jessica- Thanks for stopping by! Wow, PF bloggers are totally representing! That sounds like a lovely birthday/Valentine’s day!
GYM, My wife and I are pretty low key around V day. We do nice stuff together all the time, so everyday is Valentine’s day. I’m just one lucky guy. Tom
@Tom- Oh gosh, you sound like you have the perfect marriage! 🙂 We need to have Mrs. Dividends Diversify guest post on your blog one day 😉
We don’t do anything for any holidays or anniversaries, besides birthdays. For Christmas, we create a family calendar with pictures we choose. We set expectations early on that nothing was happening. Honestly, if my husband made a big stink about buying me stuff I’d wonder if we were really compatible! I know it sounds unromantic, but I feel like the spontaneous, everyday moments are worth so much more than the forced romanticism. Like, I’m sick right now, and my husband put the pill container next to my nightstand so I wouldn’t forget to take it in the morning. That’s love!
@The Luxe Strategist- That’s great you set expectations early on! My husband and I did the birthday gift stuff and then marriage happened, and then he didn’t get me a birthday gift haha. I was like, oh, we’re not doing that now? But it’s good, having the discussion really helped.
Forced romanticism – that’s what I was trying to say but I couldn’t articulate it. It’s not romantic to me either! That’s so sweet of Teddy Luxband! I hope you feel better soon, Luxe! My husband is sick too (and baby is sick), it’s really going around!
We haven’t done anything for Valentine’s Day in years but this year I might consider doing a little something for us at home. I wish I’d thought about it when I was at the grocery store earlier but with our kiddo, we’ve not been able to do anything nice just the two of us in ages. It seems like it’s time.
@Revanche- Awe, I’m looking forward to hearing what you guys do! It’s hard to find time to do something nice without the kid- but amazing when it happens, and then you will spend probably most of it discussing your kid and missing him haha (that’s what ends up happening to us).
Normally on Valentine’s day, Mrs. FMM and I order a pizza and get our typical $9 bottle of wine and watch our favorite Netflix show! This year is different though…
We are MASSIVE Marvel Comic fans and Black Panther is coming out a couple days after Valentines day…We are going to pretend Valentine’s day is the day the movie comes out and spend our night at the theater:)
@Sean- That’s so sweet! Your normal Valentine’s Day plan sounds really lovely too- takeout and wine and Netflix and chill!
Maybe not a no spend but a low spend most likely for us! Some Chinese, wine, and a movie sounds real nice.
@Damn Millennial- That sounds lovely too- vino always makes a great date night! I wonder if these people who are spending hundreds of dollars on Valentine’s Day are skewing the average? Because from this sample size of PF bloggers, it doesn’t sound like there’s much Valentine’s Day spending going on! Lol.
oooh I love this! Had this one time for either Valentine’s Day or an anniversary, I wrote a bunch of love notes and appreciation notes, folded them all into hearts, and hid them EVERYWHERE in his room. I hid it in his pockets of clothes, his shoes, his car, in between pages of his school books and such. I guess I wrote so many he was still finding them months later lol. Ahhh the good times.
@Melanie- Oh you are so sweet! That’s very romantic. I used to be more romantic when I was younger too (in early 20’s) and now I am not haha.
My SO and I never go out for Valentine’s Day but we usually do give each other a small token of affection. I gave him a card as he really looked after me due to my injury for last few weeks and it was a good way to let him know how much I appreciated him. In this day and age where things are so busy and disconnected, sometimes Valentine’s Day is a good way to step back and look at your relationship. He did get me half-dozen roses delivered to work even though I didn’t expect it. It was a nice romantic gesture as I do enjoy flowers once in a blue moon and he really wanted to make my day 🙂 The one thing we made sure was to sit down and enjoy a nice home-cooked meals. He’s not a particularly romantic person but he does have his moments and it’s greatly appreciated! Sometimes, it’s a poem, or just showing up at my work every few months and say, let’s go out for a lunch date, or a small card. I try to do the same thing for him.
Expectations is key for sure with couples on what you want.
@KQ- Awe so sweet!! Thank you for sharing. It’s true, it is a good day to remind yourself that you need to get connected and make a little effort and show that you care. For me, going out for a meal (after our kids are down) is a way to connect.