Feeling pathetic on Valentine’s Day isn’t just confined to single adults. This festive form of inadequacy begins as early as middle school, when class is interrupted to deliver flowers or artificial leis to the popular kids. We learn a little something called “perspective” in our adult years, but some of those residual feelings bubble up when we find ourselves without plans on Feb. 14.
Though I don’t believe one’s self-worth should be evaluated based on the company he or she keeps during a random evening in mid-February, I do appreciate the compulsion to make plans. With that in mind, consider the following cheap ways to treat yourself this Valentine’s Day.
1. Host a Girl’s Night In
A popular alternative to kissy-kissy couples on Valentine’s Day is a crowd of rowdy girls proudly and publicly declaring their singlehood. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with this, hosting a girl’s night in is financially friendlier and will result in fewer cringe-worthy photos on Facebook. Create a theme — like wine or champagne-tasting — to make the evening more special, and ask friends to bring their favorite bottle of bubbly to cut hostess costs.
2. Try Something New
Skip the Jane Austen movie-marathon in favor of something a little outside your comfort zone. Peruse Groupon and LivingSocial for daily deals on activities you’ve been dying to try. Whether it’s a Thai cooking class or glass-blowing workshop, challenging yourself at a new skill will be far more productive than watching Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy duke it out yet again.
3. Paint ‘n Sip
One of the biggest trends to hit the United States since fondue, “paint ‘n sip” represents a fun and relatively inexpensive way to spend an evening. Get your fellow singletons together for a little canvas time, with a dash of liquid courage to help you make the first brush stroke. These events are designed to be relaxed and unintimidating, so don’t worry if you artistic masterpiece is more Pollock than Picasso.
If you find yourself wallowing in self-pity come Feb. 14, consider brightening someone else’s day to improve your mood. Soup kitchens, nursery homes and other establishments welcome volunteers to assist in everyday operations or simply visit with patrons. You’ll likely find the experience much more rewarding than an overpriced dinner-for-two. Check out VolunteerMatch.org for current opportunities in your community.
5. Indulge in Some Retail Therapy
A little retail therapy can go a long way, but that doesn’t mean your credit card balance has to suffer. In addition to coupons and clearance racks, you can buy online gift cards at a discount through GiftCardGranny.com to save some cash. E-cards are delivered within 24 hours and can save you up to 10 percent for both online and in-store purchases to places like DSW, Express and Anthropologie.
6. Pamper Yourself
Schedule a mani-pedi. Drop by your local studio for some candlelight yoga. Curl up with your favorite bestseller and a glass of red wine. As cheesy as it may sound, the most important relationship in your life is the one you have with yourself. So go ahead: blast Beyoncé and celebrate all the reasons you love being you.
7. Disregard It
As you listen to your hitched buds swoon about their romantic Valentine’s Day plans, keep in mind their significant others are likely cursing the corporations responsible for this made-up holiday. My husband’s disgust for the event is so strong he refuses to acknowledge it by name; instead, I wake up to “Happy Hallmark Holiday!” along with an ironically non-Hallmark card. Ultimately, it’s best not to dwell on other people’s plans and focus on making yours unforgettable.
Kendal Perez is a frugal fashionista and bargain shopper who helps fellow shopaholics find hassle-free ways to save money. As the marketing coordinator for Kinoli Inc., site manager for a family of money-saving websites, Kendal has the resources to be an extreme couponer but prefers a less complicated approach to staying in-budget. Kendal has been quoted in such media outlets as People StyleWatch, CNN Money, FOX, ABC, NPR and Kiplinger Personal Finance. For savings tips and more information, visit HassleFreeSavings.com.