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Shah: A memorable Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be expensive
Navin Shah
Navin Shah

Valentine’s Day is almost here.  It’s a time to show love to the special person or people in our lives, and often that translates into spending money – sometimes lots of money.    

The average American will spend $144 on the holiday this year, according to the National Retail Federation.  The five most popular gifts are candy, cards, flowers, jewelry, and eating out, in that order.   

But when you’re on a tight budget, the challenge is to shower affection without taking a financial bath.  Here are five ideas to consider:      

  • Make your message personal  instead of an expensive store-bought card, prepare a hand-written letter in which you explain in your own words “what I love about you.”  Illustrate with a favorite photo, perhaps showing the two of you at a special site, then frame the page for permanent display.  Present the letter in an unforgettable way by reading it out loud – with emotion.    
  • Have a fancy meal at home – instead of an over-priced lunch or dinner at a crowded restaurant, celebrate at home.  You can prepare a favorite dish or pick up a “take home” meal at the grocery store.  Then get dressed up, put candles on the table, and turn off the social media.
  • Do a chore – offer the gift of time and convenience by doing a task that relieves the recipient in a meaningful way.  Be specific about the “what” and the “when” – for example, “I will wash your car, inside and out, this Saturday” or “I will walk the dog every day for a week” or “I will do your grocery shopping for the next month.” 
    We all have chores and we all appreciate help with them, especially the tasks that are routine or difficult.  So be creative and clever in selecting how someone you love can benefit from your time and thoughtfulness.    
  • Burn a custom CD – put together a playlist of the recipient’s favorite music, being sure to include songs that have special meaning for the two of you.  Personalize the CD further with a custom cover that features a favorite photo.  When you present the CD, listen to it together – and dance!
  • Shop for estate jewelry – instead of buying expensive mass-produced jewelry items, go to an antique store or a pawn shop and find a piece that is more unusual and certainly more affordable.  
If you don’t have someone special in your life right now, there’s no reason to miss out on the spirit of Valentine’s Day.  Create some good times and good feelings.  

For example, brighten the day for an elderly relative or neighbor – perhaps someone who has lost a loved one recently – by spending time with them.  You’re providing the attention they want, need, and miss.

Or go to a local senior citizens residence – call ahead to ask about a good time to come, such as to join in certain social activities.

This Valentine’s Day, go big by thinking outside the traditional heart-shaped box.  You’ll share more and spend less.    

Navin Shah is Chairman of Royal Hotel Investments, which owns and operates two hotels in Covington and one in Conyers.  He is also Vice Chairman of Embassy National Bank, a community bank in Lawrenceville that he helped establish in 2007 and has become one of the leading SBA “Preferred Lenders” in the southeast.  He can be reached by e-mail at