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Valentine's day: Romance on a budget

ROMANCE: We count down ways to make this year's Valentine's Day "economical and sentimental"

MANY PEOPLE often wonder why people spend so much money on Valentine's day to show the one they love just how much they are loved. Quite frankly, some might argue that the amount of money people spend is quite ludicrous.

When February 14 rolls around each year, advertisers go into overdrive to convince consumers that true love is measured by the thickness of your wallet.

With the state of the economy and especially for those on a budget, many of you wish that the calendar could just skip from January to March.

Fortunately, we are here to make this year's Valentine's Day economical and sentimental. The Flair has some affordable ideas that will leave your wallet untouched and your spouse delighted.

1. Create memories with a framed sketch portrait of you and your loved one.

If you are trying to save on cash and you don't want to necessarily hire an artist, draw for your smartphones because 'there's an app for that'. Sketch guru app does this on the apple, android and rim platforms.

2. Gift certificates.

This is probably one of the best gifts because it can be customised as they like. A spa treatment, dinner to their favourite restaurant, or a shopping spree at their favourite store. You determine the limit.

3. Stay in, host a fancy dinner.

This is a very nice gesture and one that comes with a lot of work. Try following our DIY table setting and make a quick and easy recipe that is sure to please. They will love the effort.

4. Buy flowers.

Women love flowers but beware that this can be cheap or expensive depending on the type and amount you purchase. Also, consider a potted plant, one that can be kept. Some stores offer potted miniature rose plants, or other flowering plants. These last long after the flowers fade.

5. Individualise a gift.

Add a picture, quote etc., to a cup or T-shirt that will make them feel extra special.

6. Remember your teenage years? Burn a CD with his/her favourite songs.

This might seem a bit corny and juvenile but at the end of the day it's the thought that counts. They will also take great pride in the fact that you remember their favourite songs.

7. Valentine printable coupons.

These can be found online or you could also make your own. A definite pleasure that would make your spouse go "Awww."

8. Create an at-home spa day for your mate.

Deliver the gift in a basket filled with inexpensive candles, a bubble bath, rose petals, facial mask and scrub.

9. Take the person you love to experience something spectacular in nature: a sunset, a sunrise, the beach, share an evening walk gazing at the moon.

If this isn't enough, try having a picnic under the stars. It might seem a little cliché like right out of a Hollywood film but there are persons who would truly appreciate such a gesture.

10. Write 'I love you because ...' notes and insert them into balloons.

Inflate the balloons, and spread the balloons throughout your bedroom for your Valentine to pop and capture each message.

11. Make homemade chocolate-covered strawberries.

It's easy, sensual and romantic and it doesn't take much time either. Here are some quick and simple instructions.

1) Melt a package of chocolate chips in a double boiler and add a small amount of oil.

2) Remove from heat and quickly dip the strawberries into the chocolate

3) Place on wax paper and refrigerate until chocolate is firm.

Couples are a lot happier when not in debt. So make Valentine's Day special without spending too much. Have a happy, romantic and affordable day.

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