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Valentine's & Holiday Debt Can Kill Those Lovin' Feelings: How to Make Valentine's Day Special Yet Affordable

How to make Valentine's Day special but still affordable.Q: My wife drops little hints about February 14 as soon as we see heart shaped candy in the grocery store. Don't get me wrong, I love my wife, but I have a hard time paying double the price for a dozen roses or going out to an expensive restaurant just because it's Valentine's Day!

A: Stores have barely cleared out their Christmas stock when they start making room for Valentine's gifts and treats. Expectations for showing our love have risen to an all-time consumer high, often to the detriment of our finances and creativity.

Advertising makes it sound as if February 14 is the only important day to show those you love how special they are. Before you think about buying anything, put things in perspective and consider what would make your wife and those you love feel special.

If your spouse enjoys gifts such as lingerie, wine or chocolate, buy a gift early when it's less expensive. When Valentine's Day arrives, follow up by spending time with her: a special home-cooked meal, picking her up from work or sending a Valentine's e-card to her at work.

If your wife likes flowers, consider a plant for the garden or a dozen roses at another time. "Just because" gifts can be reasonable and brighten someone's day when they least expect it.

If you're buying for your children, keep it reasonable. Children need to feel loved every day of the year, so a token treat in their lunch, a special note or a homemade gift certificate for an activity to share another time makes for a unique surprise and avoids inflated prices.

If you have young children who want to exchange cards with their friends, look for bulk cards and treats or pull out the red paper, stickers and glitter glue. Spend an afternoon helping them make their cards.

Make one for your spouse while you're at it and personalize it with a "treat" for just the two of you! If you have teens with Valentine's events at school, encourage them to budget for those expenses themselves, looking for ways to earn the cash they need.

Going into debt to show someone how special they are will kill those lovin' feelings. Make your love about the thoughtfulness of your gifts and deeds, not a price-tag.

And remember to show that love on more than just February 14. Cupid works every day of the year.

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