Thursday, February 11, 2010

8 Frugal Ways of Making Valentine’s Day Extra Special

Regularly going out with someone can put significant pressure on your already depressed wallet. With the standard dinner and movie tickets, and the occassional nightcap of coffee or a few drinks, date expenses can really pile up and diminish your saving capacity. Not that there’s something wrong with being a gentleman and paying for an enchanting evening with a "special" friend; it’s just that sometimes the need to impress and be “galante” overcomes the real need to spend judiciously. Your spending limits will surely be tested this coming Valentine’s Sunday--that is, unless you heed some or all of these tips on how to enjoy that special day with your equally special someone without breaking your piggy bank.

1. Stay home.

You know how much traffic there’ll be around malls in the daytime, it’s Sunday. You know how much traffic there’ll be around Sta. Mesa and Pasig, it’s Valentine’s Day. So it might be best if you just hang out with your loved one at home; you can spend a few quiet, quality moments with her, and you won’t even have to spend for gas and parking, to boot.

2. Go nature-tripping.

If you’re really itching to go out, go to an outdoorsy place like UP Diliman (which is perfect on carless Sundays, especially at dusk), the La Mesa watershed, or Salcedo Park in Makati. Going to the mall will just make you and your girlfriend spend money on stuff you don’t and won’t really need.

3. Prepare a candlelit dinner for her.

Better yet, prepare the meal with her. A Valentine restaurant dinner will cost you anywhere from 1,000 pesos up, depending on how special you want the dinner to be, so doing your own cooking will save you a significant amount of dough without ruining the mood of the evening. It doesn’t take a Gordon Ramsay or Anthony Bourdain to pan fry a slab of steak and sautee mixed veggies. Use whatever money you’ll save to buy a bottle of wine to make the meal more memorable. Bon appetit!

4. Watch DVDs at home.

Movie tickets nowadays cost anywhere from 150 to 180 pesos, depending on the swankiness of the cinema or the buzz generated by the film, so it’s almost always a better idea to watch pirated rented movies instead. This is most especially true on Valentine’s Day, when conditions are perfect for staple chick flicks like Sleepless in Seattle, Serendipity, or Love Actually. Valentine's Day is the time to put your sensitive face on; you will have all the time in the world to watch the films that you really love (on your own, of course).

5. Play a video game with her.

Wouldn't it be cool to have a girl who loves gaming just as much as you do? Turn her into a gaming freak by playing any two-player game like Tekken or NBA Live or Gran Turismo and try to beat the crap out of each other. Play tennis on your Wii, complete with grunts a-la Serena Williams. Don’t have a next generation console? Then bring out your Family Computer and play Super Mario 3, she’ll be Mario and you’ll be Luigi; take turns beating the crap out of Bowser and his ugly progeny.

6. Run together.

Or play one-on-one basketball. Or Frisbee. Do something active together, hopefully something that would not cost you anything. Who knows, you might get the hang of it and decide to do it more frequently. Remember, a healthy body is a sound investment in itself.

7. Make her something.

One Valentine’s Day ages ago, I made my then-girlfriend a small bouquet of paper flowers. And I made a scrapbook for my ex before her. Don’t let the fact that they’re now both my exes scare you; as a rule, gifts you labor over, things that you imbue with your (figurative) blood, sweat, and tears are much appreciated by the opposite sex. Handmade gifts reflect how special your girl is to you, unlike trite, store-bought ones, which are sometimes even more expensive many times over.

8. Write her poetry.

Or a love letter. No matter what they say, most girls are hopeless romantics at heart. Giving her a carefully-crafted, cheesy line or two is just like playing poker: if you play your cards (and grammar) right, you just might end up being lucky.

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