Gone are the days of cheap flowers and a box of chocolates. Valentine’s Day spending has skyrocketed over recent years, hitting a new record of nearly $20 billion last year!

So how do we show our loved ones how much we care without breaking the bank? Local financial professional Paul Durso from Durso Capital Management is here with simple ideas to celebrate on a budget.

Q: Is Valentine’s Day still thought of as a made-up “Hallmark Holiday?”
• Most Americans are saying “no.” More than half celebrate Valentine’s Day.
• It’s not just greeting cards, flowers and chocolates anymore. Think diamonds, vacations and expensive dinners.
• The cost for a nice dinner for two, a bottle of champagne, chocolates, roses and diamond earrings was more than $500 last year.
• With the gifts costing more, Valentine’s Day is right up there with Christmas.
• But there are things we can do that will save some money and still be meaningful.

Q: What can we do to save some money this year?

Make Dinner
• For the first time ever, Americans are actually spending more money going out to eat than they are on groceries.
• What makes that more notable is that the cost of a restaurant meal is going up and the cost of groceries has actually gone down since 2015.
• A Valentine’s Day dinner for two at a nice restaurant can easily cost $150, depending on where you live and what you order.
• Mix things up this year by skipping the fancy steakhouse and making dinner at home.
• You can buy two steaks, some vegetables and a cheap bottle of wine at the grocery store for about $50.
• This comes out to a savings of at least $75-$100.

Movies at Home
• AMC is the largest movie theater chain in the U.S.
• Its average adult ticket price is about $13. So that’s more than $25 just to get the two of you in the door. And if you make a stop by the concession stand, your movie date could easily cost you $40!
• Rent a movie online or at a local Redbox and you’ll likely spend less than $5.
• You can even rent one for free at your local library.
• That’s a savings of about $40.

Skip Gifts
• A store bought card can cost between $2-$5. A box of chocolates can set you back about $20.
• The price for a dozen roses also goes up around Valentine’s Day because of the high demand. Depending on quality, a dozen long-stemmed red roses will cost about $80.
• Save money this year by making your own cards and sweets.
• You can also pick up a cheaper flower bouquet and skip the vase.
• Following even just a few of these tips can save you anywhere from $25-$50.

Q: Does it really matter how much we’re spending?
• If you’re spending like the average American on Valentine’s Day, the holiday is costing you about $150.
• If you’ve been married for 30 years and you’re spending that much every Valentine’s Day, that adds up to $4,500!
• If you still want to celebrate, think about choosing a day after February 14 when things like chocolates, flowers and cards are on sale.
• I have a link to more money-saving Valentine’s Day ideas on my website, dursocapital.com