Money Tips Roundup: Cheap Valentine’s Day Gifts Edition

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This week’s roundup features 134 tips that are (mostly) about celebrating Valentine's Day—and scoring big points with your significant other—without spending a fortune.
4 tips for saving on dental bills. OK, so this one isn’t exactly about romance or Valentine’s Day. But it’s easier to convince someone to kiss you if your teeth aren’t falling out. To save on trips to the dentist, consider negotiating how much visits will cost, and do so in advance:

If you don’t have insurance, you may have some wiggle room, as long as you negotiate a price before you have the work done. That’s when you still have the power to take your business elsewhere. Many dentists will offer around 5% off if you pay cash up front, says Dr. Lawrence Wallace, CEO of Larell Surgical Consultants, a California company that evaluates claims for insurers.

(Read: What NOT to Buy for Valentine’s Day.)
5 financial miscues in the name of love. Before catching a new kind of STD—“Sexually Transmitted Debt”—be wary about situations such as:

Co-signing a loan
Your significant other might be a wonderful person and seemingly responsible. But be honest with yourself: There is a reason they needed to ask for a co-signer. If it is because they don’t earn enough to qualify, what makes you think they can handle an additional monthly bill? If past credit problems makes getting a loan on their own impossible, that may very well be a portent of how seriously (or not) they treat their responsibility to creditors and, by extension, you.

5 frugal Valentine’s Day ideas. Having fun and spending time together are essential. Spending a ton of money? Not so much. For example, you might want to …

Cook a Fancy Dinner
Two years ago, my wife and I started a tradition of cooking uber-fancy meals for our major celebrations and for minor ones like Valentine’s Day. Two years ago we made Provençal Rack of Lamb which came out fantastic. We had far more lamb that we would’ve at a restaurant and it cost a fraction of what it would on a menu. The best part is that the lamb wasn’t the showcase, making it was. Spending time cooking and experimenting was the “gift” we gave each other, the lamb was just the bonus.

(Read: The Cheapskate’s Guide to Valentine’s Day.)
5 traits low-stress, happy-work cultures have in common. Cribbed from Dan Buettner’s book Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way, the happiest, least stressed workers are those who have short commutes and bosses who don’t make them miserable. Also, they actually take vacations (often, with people they love):

Buettner suggests breaking up your year with multiple vacations as research indicates that we derive almost as much pleasure from planning the vacation as we do from taking it. Four, week-long vacations over the course of the year provide 4 times as many pleasure-inducing planning periods as a single lengthy one would.

5 DIY Valentine’s Day ideas for frugal sweethearts. Buying stuff is easy. Making gifts requires more thought and effort—and with that (hopefully) comes more appreciation from the recipient. For example:

Instead of a heart-shaped box of chocolates, make homemade fudge with an even sweeter surprise. Sometimes I can’t stand how crafty Martha Stewart is, but I can’t help but to like her. For Valentine’s Day, make her Creamy Fudge Hearts and package each one in a cupcake paper with a message underneath.

6 cheap Valentine’s Day gifts. A little creativity can make up for an absence of cash. Consider doing something like:

Steal her phone while she’s in the shower and download “your song” as a new ringtone. Then call her and surprise her. Free.

7 best geeky Valentine’s Day gifts. Also available in an ultra-geeky video edition, this Techland post suggests dorkily romantic gifts such as the Pajamas Warming Pouch:

There’s one in every relationship. “Are you cold? I’m freezing!” Oh really? I’d bump the heat up a little more but the thermostat knob only goes so far to the right before it stops turning.

If your significant other’s teeth have been irreparably damaged due to constant chattering, this $40 pouch may be just the thing to warm his or her PJs up to 118 degrees right before bedtime.

7 Valentine’s Day assumptions you should never make. Great words of wisdom. Here are the first three:

Do not assume that a year of neglectful love can be made up by a dozen roses on Valentine’s Day.

Do not assume that a dinner out on Valentine’s Day makes up for a year of missed dinners because of work commitments.

Do not assume that material gifts on Valentine’s Day are more important than receiving the gift of time from the one you love.

10 top Valentine’s Day gifts under $35. Who says socks aren’t romantic?

For the Snuggler: Cashmere Socks. Nordstrom has Ribbed cashmere blend socks for $18 per pair. A bit of luxury that goes a long way this winter.

14 Valentine’s Day desserts that hit the sweet spot. Yum:

Oreo Truffles
There are so many tasty items I could have chosen from my friend Jen’s Phood Phoria blog, but this Oreo truffles recipe in particular looked too decadent and delicious to pass up. Oreos? Check. Cream cheese? Check. Chocolate coating? Double check. Be still my bursting heart.

16 coupons and freebies for Valentine’s Day. With the abundance of online coupons and promos, there’s rarely a reason to pay full price, on, well, anything and everything—including classic gifts such as flowers, jewelry, lingerie, and chocolates. Also, for example:

*Make a reservation at by February 24 and use the coupon code BBROMANCE25 to get $25 off the current room rate. No minimum stay required, but stays must be completed by March 30.

50 ways to say “I love you” for almost free. Here are three of the many possibilities:

Take a “sick” or personal day from work and enjoy an entire bonus day and night together.

Go to wherever your partner is during the day (working, the gym, etc) and put a surprise for them in their car. Balloons, love notes, a cd in the player ready to go.

If you can, re-create your first date.