Cut the cost of romance
Romance isn't dead - it's just a lot more expensive than it used to be. Couples across the world spend a small fortune each year showing each other how much they care.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Telling the loved one in your life how much they mean to you is completely free – and even if you do want to get them a special gift or enjoy some time together, you don’t have to fork out big bucks to do so.
Here are Moneywise’s top tips on saving money without spoiling the romantic.
Instead of forking out £10 on an A3 birthday or Valentine's card from Clintons, why not make one yourself? As well as being creative with the design, you can write a message without all the schmultz – or at least write your own.
You could also make a CD of songs that you both like rather than buying the latest compilation of love ballads that mean nothing to either of you.
Presents with a difference
Even if you aren’t all that creative, you can still get a card and gift for very little. You can buy arty postcards, for example, for less than £1 in art galleries and museums. And shopping around on price comparison websites such as kelkoo.co.uk and pricerunner.co.uk for gifts could help you find the perfect present that doesn’t cost the earth.
If the loved one in your life likes to read, then books can be a cheap but romantic gesture; use websites such as Amazon.co.uk or play.com to find collections of love poems, black and white photography or just the latest bestseller.
You could also check out websites like lastminute.com to see if you can come up with a more original present than yet another cuddly toy. Tickets for West End shows start at £15 and 2-4-1 spa packages are not uncommon either.
And small but romantic gestures are also a creative way to show you care. From making your own Royal Mail postage stamp to planting cress in the shape of a heart, Sheridan Simove’s book ‘Presents Money Can’t Buy’ offers 50 alternative gift ideas, inspired by his own winning romantic gestures that don’t cost a fortune.
Especially for you…
On your loved one's birthday, your anniversary or Valentine's Day, why not dedicate a special song on the radio to them. Or, if you’re going to a football or rugby match together, request a special message is read out at half–time over the loudspeaker or played on the screen.
Dine in style
While taking your nearest and dearest to a fancy restaurant is a nice idea, cooking their favourite meal at home can be just as romantic - and provided you don’t serve baked beans, it shows more effort and thought too.
If you do want to go out for supper, then there are ways to avoid the expense. A bit of research or heading off the beaten track could uncover some cheaper options.
Many restaurants continue to offer vouchers, such as buy-one-get-one free offers. A quick scan of websites such as vouchercodes.co.uk or myvouchercodes.co.uk reveals a host of special offers.
Going to see a show with your loved one may seem like the perfect way to spend a romantic evening together, but the cost of the tickets mean it could also be an expensive option – especially over weekends.
A good way to save a bit of cash is to shop around for seats, using a theatre ticket price comparison service such as SeatChoice.com or comparetheatretickets.com.
Flowers and chocolate
Sending a bunch of flowers or box of chocolates may seem a relatively inexpensive way to say 'I love you', but these gifts can end up costlier than you might expect. One way to get round the cost of romantic gestures is to take advantage of the numerous vouchers available online.
Or, if you're a whizz in the kitchen, why not make your own chocolate truffles, brownies or a cake?
As long as you both agree beforehand, hold a Valentine's Day amnesty. According to a survey by CreditExpert, three–quarters of UK adults in a relationship would prefer to know that their partner is being careful with their money rather than receive a Valentine’s gift.