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Frugal ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day

A day set aside to shower a loved one with gifts and touching words of affection, Valentine's Day brightens the often gloomy month of February. Established centuries ago with origins shrouded in mystery, Valentine's Day has evolved into one of the most popular – and expensive – days of the year. Many couples celebrate Valentine's Day with cards, gifts and nights out on the town, and such celebrations can stretch budgets.

Coming on the heels of post-holiday bills, Valentine's Day can feel like a costly prospect. Yet, even those on a budget can enjoy a special day to remember without breaking the bank. The following are several frugal ways to enjoy Valentine's Day.

• Create your own greeting card. It can be challenging to find cards that offer just the right sentiments. Sometimes cards seem distant, too risqué or overly sentimental. Instead, create your own card. Find a decorative blank card or make one from card stock. Search through your digital photos and print one of the two of you together. Glue on a paper heart border, and then jot down some affectionate sentiments.

• Cleverly wrap favorite chocolate. Chocolate is synonymous with Valentine's Day, and it's easy to spend a lot on gourmet chocolates without even knowing if your valentine will like what's inside the box. Stick to what you know he or she likes, even if it's a simple chocolate bar from a convenience store. Buy a few and then wrap them in a fancy box with ribbon.

• Go out for a small bite to eat. If you're concerned about the cost of an expensive dinner out or anticipate being restricted to a certain menu, plan to dine at home. You can opt to go out for cocktails prior or head to a café for dessert and cappuccino afterward. This way you'll still get the experience of going out without being forced to overspend. If you've got your heart set on a full meal, watch for Valentine specials or coupons your area restaurants may be offering.

• Purchase a rosebush. Bouquets of roses are traditional gifts for Valentine's Day. However, thanks to the increased demand, the cost of roses tends to increase as Valentine's Day draws nearer. If you want to save money but still give roses, buy a plant that blooms each year. Buy a rosebush and plan to put it in the garden come spring when all danger of frost is gone. 

• Turn older jewelry new again. Diamonds and other jewelry can be costly. If a new piece simply isn't in the budget, consider repurposing an older piece of jewelry that isn't worn as often. It's amazing what a new setting on a ring can look like or how stones on a seldom-used necklace can be turned into fashionable stud earrings. If you have a good amount of mismatched gold jewelery lying around, you may be able to sell it or have it melted down and turned into a beautiful new creation.

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