7 Ways to Spend Little or Nothing on Valentine’s Day

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Is your budget a little tight right now? Then take my advice: On Valentine’s Day, spend little except time. Here are seven ways to create maximum impact with minimal expense.

1. Do a dirty job

Make up a certificate offering your services for a job that your sweetheart is dreading: picking up a winter’s worth of dog poo from the back yard, say, or raking mulch off the perennial beds. Then make good on the promise – in fact, suggest potential days for you to do these things.

2. Cooking = love

When I was going through a divorce and attending college in midlife, I was pretty broke. Among the frugal holiday gifts I gave to my daughter were two certificates for homemade pumpkin pies. (I did specify “at least 24 hours advance notice required.”) No doubt your sweetheart has a favorite dish you could offer.

3. Laundry duty

This was another gift to my daughter that Christmas – a handful of certificates for “one load of laundry washed, dried, and folded” (this included the quarters for the washer room – she was broke too) and “one item of hand laundry.” Seriously: Wouldn’t you love it if someone took care of your washing some weekend?

4. The book of love

You know all those pictures of your sweetie on your smartphone or digital camera? Print out some of the best and place them into one of those inexpensive photo books (look in the dollar store or in the dollar section at Michael’s or Jo-Ann Fabrics). Write up cards for the facing pages: a funny caption, your memory of what happened the day the photo was shot, or something you love and admire about this person. Ideally, at least one photo would be the two of you.

Hands-on gifting

5. Foot rub

You know you want one. So does your sweetheart. If you really want to gild the lily, preface it with a hot Epsom salts soak, light some candles, and have the lucky recipient’s favorite music playing softly. Alternates: head rub, hand rub (our computer- and text-pummeled digits can use a little pampering), facial massage (with special attention paid to the jaw area, where tension may reside).

6. Tame the clutter

Offer to help with a long-overdue chore, whether it’s cleaning out the garage or creating order in a chaotic home office.

7. Hot wheels

Offer to wash and detail your loved one’s vehicle. (See how-to tips on The Family Handyman website.) Do this at your place. Afterwards, get cleaned up and put on the outfit s/he likes best before you deliver the vehicle back. Your sweetheart will find this very auto-erotic.

Readers: What are your best tips for frugal V-Day gifts?

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