Valentine’s Day – Was It Worth Celebrating?

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Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark Holiday

For those unfamiliar, a “Hallmark Holiday” is a term used to describe a holiday created for commercial purposes that seeks to exploit the emotions of consumers for reasons of profit.

People may argue the legitimacy of this term, but for the intents and purposes of this article we will assume it true (mostly because I believe it… and I’m the author.) 🙂

Define your own celebrations

Despite popular cultural norms, we strive to choose our own celebration days rather than letting them be dictated to us by commercial entities or anyone else.  While we do celebrate some traditional holidays, we still try to do so in a way that makes us happy rather than just following along with the spending culture we’re inundated with and surrounded by.

Per celebrating loved ones, I endeavor to celebrate my love for them daily rather than certain days of the year.  I love my wife every day and hope to show her that as often as possible.  I love my mom every day, and hope to show her that as often as possible.  I love my sister every day and hope to show her that as often as possible.  You get the point.  Rather than picking days, I think it more fitting to try and make them feel special every time I come in contact with them.

Despite the aim to always honor loved ones, I still have particular days I like to focus on them but prefer to define these days according to the personal relationship, not popular culture.


Anniversaries are a big one for me.  I view them as special because they represent the loving and life long union of two people setting off to share their lives with one another.  I like to show particular admiration for loved ones on these special days.


Celebrating the day people came into this world is another huge one for me.  What better opportunity to focus on individuals than the anniversary of their birth.

Although both of these event types are very commercialized in popular culture, I enjoy placing the focus on the person and the relationship rather than focusing on gifts of high dollar amounts.  I typically do this by expressing my appreciation for them through words, pictures, and memories, etc… or by meeting a specific need they have.

Valentine’s Day – What we did and how we saved

Since we do not celebrate this holiday in traditional fashion, we focused on making it a great day like we do with all other days.  Initially we planned to split a meal at one of our favorite restaurants then visit the MSU planetarium, but chose to avoid the crowds and stay home instead.  If you didn’t already know, we are in debt so we limit ourselves to a maximum of one night out per month.  Also, we decided long ago that dinners out should be limited to occasions that are special to us, so we chose to save our special dinner for next week… our 5th wedding anniversary!  🙂

Rather than going out, spending money, and fighting crowds… we made our favorite dinner together – Indian Madras Chicken Curry – and cuddled up to a good movie afterward.  We saved about $20 on the meal by cooking at home (which also provided us leftovers for the week ahead) and utilized our Netflix streaming subscription to watch a movie at no additional cost.

All said and done we saved about $30+ and spent a lovingly relaxing night at home eating our favorite dish and cuddling up to a great movie.

Valentine’s Day – What did you do and how did you save?

Do you believe in celebrating Valentine’s Day?  Did you celebrate it traditionally by spending money to enjoy each others company, or did you celebrate it creatively without focusing on gifts and evenings out?

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1 Mrs. Micah

We celebrate our January 1/2 anniversary instead. But I made Micah pancakes & he gave me a backrub (I think we both would have done the same anyway, but we made it celebratory). And we celebrated in other free ways. But not a dime was spent and I don’t feel the loss. T’was a lovely day.

2 Matt Jabs

Awesome MM… my wife makes the BEST homemade banana pancakes, and she loves getting backrubs in return! Sounds like you two had a great time, congrats on your creative celebration… it made me smile.

3 Bible Money Matters

We splurged this year and went out to a $40+ dinner, and then rented a movie at home.. And i spent a good deal of money on flowers. I don’t do that very often, and since my wife is expecting, I figured this year was a good year to splurge, and tell her how much I love her.

I’m with you on bucking the trend – and I usually do – but this year I didn’t. I think it’s ok to do that once in a while too. Just don’t do it every year! 🙂

4 Matt Jabs

Congrats again on your soon-to-be baby boy… that is so exciting! I agree Pete, sometimes splurges are called for.

5 Mrs. Micah

100% worth it. She’s making a whole ‘nother person, that in itself is worth nice dinners and flowers. 🙂

6 Erica Douglass

We didn’t really do anything either. I went out to dinner with a girlfriend who is single and was her Valentine for the evening. That was totally worth it! Then I came home and we watched “Amazing Race” and “Undercover Boss.” No gifts were exchanged by mutual agreement. I am completely happy!

Richard’s birthday is coming up and we do plan to go out to dinner for that. A local restaurant sent him a BOGO coupon for his birthday, so he wants to go there. 🙂


7 Matt Jabs

Yeah, celebrating birthdays just makes so much more sense. Since beginning our debt free adventure it has been very cool to discover how much fun we can have by spending so little, or by spending nothing at all. 🙂

8 RJ Weiss

We splurged on our grocery shopping, instead of going out to eat. Spent about $15 more than we usually do, but had a restaurant quality meal.

9 Paul @ FiscalGeek

I totally bought into it and took my wife out to a very nice Seafood dinner looking out at the Puget Sound. We have to take advantage of times like this when we’ve got free babysitting. Plus I’m taking this week off so it was a great way to kick off a week of vacation. Honestly though it didn’t have to be valentine’s day for this to occur we would have done it anyways. We did come home early though and my concession was to watch “Julie and Julia” which was not actually half bad.

In my heart though I’m with you, made up holidays stink. We’re coming up on our 10th wedding anniversary in July and I’m looking to make that a very special day.

10 Brad Chaffee

Dude this post is AWESOME! My favorite part: CHOOSE YOUR OWN HOLIDAYS! I love that Matt! I am like you in thinking that the Hallmark Holidays shouldn’t spend your money for you.

I wish I would have thought of doing this post. 🙂

11 Matt Jabs

Thanks Brad, I’m always trying to promote independent thought… I believe the lack of original thought is the root problem that causes many other secondary problems in our modern culture. Television is a HUGE reason for the lack of independent thought, so I also encourage people to turn off their TVs and go read.

12 Dad is in the House

I’m a sucker for holidays, I hate to say. Still, we spent no money on V-Day this year, just made cookies and had family time.

13 Financial Samurai

Gotta say, I love every time a holiday comes up so we can celebrate SOME MORE! The more fun, the better.

I bought a couple last minute roundtrip tickets to some island somewhere Sat night, departing tomorrow. So excited!

14 Matt Jabs

Have fun Sam.

15 Mrs. Money

My hubby worked yesterday making yummy dinners for all the people celebrating. 🙂

We don’t celebrate either, because we think it’s a Hallmark holiday too. I do feel a little slow- I didn’t realize you are a Michigander! Did you know I grew up there? We were kicking around the idea of moving back there.

I celebrate my half birthday. I go all out. I kinda like it better than my real birthday!

16 Matt Jabs

Yep, born & raised… had no idea you grew up here. Make sure you secure a job before moving back, the job market is a tad dry now-a-days. 😉

PS… I much prefer half-birthdays to any hallmark holiday. This is a great example of defining your own celebrations!

17 Ronnie

Well, we’re on a no-spend month, so going out wasn’t an option, even though my darling broke the rule and bought me chocolates because, as he said, “you get to deal with the client from he** this week, the least I can do is buy chocolates.” Who can argue with that :D?

We stayed home, cooked dinner together and watched the nba all-star game. We have leftovers for tonight, so the meal is about $5/person, which was awesome. And speaking of birthdays, my boyfriend became an uncle last Friday (she’s SOOOO beautiful!), so now we’re saving to go up to Chicago and see his first niece!

18 Matt Jabs

Gotta love the power of leftovers! Congrats on the niece.

19 Mrs. Frugal

We acknowledge the holiday but spent it much like we would any other Sunday…a nice lazy day together. We went out for a late breakfast, our splurge was not sharing a meal. This was due more to the fact that we waited so long to get out and I used my pregnant-ness to justify a grub fest. Later we cooked ourselves a nice steak dinner that cost roughly $8.50. It was a really nice day…no gifts or expensive flowers required.

20 karyn

Don’t forget the *Saint* Valentine’s Day actually started as a religious holiday. And while I hope that I celebrate my loved ones everyday, it is nice to have a day set aside to remember love. We read to the kids about the three Saint Valentines, had a scavenger hunt for chocolates around the house, ate strawberry ice cream with whipped cream, and made homemade valentines with a list of ten things we love about each of our children. While not focused on romantic love, it was a touching day nonetheless!

21 Matt Jabs

Sounds beautiful Karyn.

22 Austin

Holidays in Japan feel weird and fake so we were on the down-low this year. I bought her some delicious cookies, and she made banana bread.

Is MSU, Michigan State University?

23 Matt Jabs

Yeah, I’m a Wolverine fan living in Spartan country.

24 Austin

I visited The Big House on the way to a concert once. One of my Top 5 coolest sports moments. That place is unreal.

25 Alcoholic Millionaire

Almost all of the “holidays” have been used by corporations to create a buying frenzy. It doesn’t cost a dime to hold your loved one in your arms and say “I love you”. And guess what you can do it 365 days a year at that price!

26 Lakita

The significant other & I (Mr. A until he is formally introduced on my blog) had a blast on Saturday by attending a Valentine’s Day skate party at a local church. The cost: $0.

This was a spontaneous event was decided to do that day….he had reservations for Sunday evening and I’m not sure how much would have been spent since a winter storm caused us to postpone our dinner.

27 David H.

We blew a lot of money at the Melting Pot. It was her first fondue experience, and I wanted to treat us since we got engaged recently and have been working hard in school/work. I doubt I’ll ever go back to fondue because of what I paid haha. After dinner we also watched a movie, Food Inc, on our netflix stream subscription. Matt, will you please share the recipe for Indian Madras Chicken Curry? That sounds really good atm since it is almost lunch time and I am starving.

28 Matt Jabs

So what did you think of Food, Inc.? That movie was the straw that broke the camels back for us. Our entire approach to food is different after watching it… mostly because it brought my wife on board with a lot of changes I had been talking about making for years.

Maybe I’ll post the recipe to my other site – it is soooo delicious!

29 Kate

I ordered take out from my favorite restaurant – for about $20 I have eaten my third meal from the leftovers and have at least one more left! I stoked up the fireplace and settled in with my valentine, they olympics…

30 Mom

Got a sad/funny story to share about V-Day. My husband and I are separated by necessity right now. He is living in Florida and I am in Michigan, due to the fact that his job went south and our home is in Michigan. On Valentines Day, or any other “Hallmark Holiday”, I am all for bucking the trend and doing something that has personal meaning. My husband, on the other hand, tends to be the “send flowers” type. Well, he sent flowers. The funny part is that we have 20 cats that all live in the house. Use your imagination……what would 20 cats do to a vase of flowers? Right….they knocked em over and got water all over the place because they were trying to eat them, not once but twice! I had to lock the flowers away in a spare bedroom and shut the door so that I cannot even enjoy them! The sad part is that my husband knows that I do not like cut flowers, I would rather have a plant or a card or something that he made me. He did not put any thought into his gift like he did our first Valentines Day together as a married couple. He actually made me a pair of earrings out of a deer leg bone with feathers and beads. They were cool, they were mini dream catchers and I love them and value them very much. And, they did not cost a dime! He just used materials that we had laying around the house. That is the sort of thing that I love to receive as a gift, forget the card, flower, chocolate stuff!

31 Matt Jabs

Those earrings truly were a thoughtful gift, showing once again that care is what matters… not money or “things!”

32 pam munro

I admit it, I did spend $ on hubby for V Day – I did make my own card, though – I was going to make something – but I hadn’t been feeling well & it didn’t come thru – so I found things on the sale rack at Cost Plus & made a gift packet. Still have to pay for it! But it wasn’t a lot – On V Day itself, hubby & I just stayed in & had a pizza, chocolate & some good wine & candles & one thing led to another….just as it should on V Day.

33 Matt Jabs

Lol, sounds like you had good fun Pam. 🙂

34 Ryan @ Planting Dollars

I went out with my roommate and unsuccessfully tried to hit on girls, lol.

35 Matt Jabs

Ha ha, sorry you struck out Ryan… better luck next time. 🙂

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