02/12/2014 11:13 pm ET Updated Apr 14, 2014

Don't Be a (Financially) Stupid Cupid

The annual Valentines Day spending is $13.19 billion, an average of $116.21 per consumer. An estimated 196 million roses will be produced and 180 million cards will be exchanged. Remember the simple, yet profound, Beatles lyrics, "Money can't buy me love?" It was 50 years ago that we were first singing along with this gem, but the message is no less true today.

Don't Throw Bouquets at Me

  • You don't have to spend your cold cash, and you certainly don't want to go into debt so soon after paying off your Christmas purchases. Say "I love you" with actions instead of bling. Gifts of time and attention would certainly be treasured.
  • Get in touch with your inner-child, and make a Valentine card -- or book. Fill it with pictures of the two of you, poems, even a promise list.
  • Prepare a romantic dinner at home.
  • Make a coupon book filled with special actions for throughout the year.
  • Offer to give up your favorite sport-watching once a month, in favor of a romantic, movie-at-home night.
  • This one might be difficult for some of you -- turn off all your devices, and pay full attention to your partner.
What's Love Got to Do With It
  • You may not think it's very romantic, but nothing says "I love you" like the gift of security. Do something substantial and lasting for your partner or family.
  • Get your important papers in order.
  • Make your will.
  • Buy a life insurance policy.
  • Update your beneficiaries.
  • Set up a 529 college fund for your kids.
  • Book a couples session with a financial planner.
  • Set up a budget and learn to stick to it.
  • Schedule his and hers annual physicals.
I Will Always Love You
  • Valentine's Day isn't just about romance, it's about love. Acknowledge your love for the important people in your life -- partner, parents, children, relative, and special friends.
  • Volunteer to babysit for a couple who really need a night out -- or in.
  • Have your parents over for a special dinner. Cook your version of a traditional family recipe.
  • Throw a dress-up party for your kids and their friends. Go for glamour.
  • Help your kids make Valentines for their grandparents.
  • Host a couples parlor game night. Invite a few couples for an evening of trivia, Charades, and maybe Truth or Dare.
  • A formal covered dish dinner is a great way to spend time with friends.
Our Love is Here to Stay
  • Romance in the moment is wonderful, but also look forward. Everyone likes to have nice things to look forward to. Put romance on your calendar. Think long-term.
  • Schedule date-night once a month.
  • Plan and budget for a weekend getaway: a snowy weekend in the mountains, a hot time seaside, or a couple of days exploring a city.
  • Plan and budget for a longer vacation. Even if it's a while off, think about where you'd like to go, do the research, even learn a new language. Put photos on your computer or fridge.

Just the Way You Are
Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but there's nothing romantic or sexy about going into debt. This Valentine's Day, use your head as well as your heart. Spend within your means. Be creative. Don't try to impress with material gifts, but with honest affection and respect. Roses last a week, thoughtfulness lasts forever.