The sexiest way to save on Valentine’s Day? Do the seemingly impossible: spend less and get more. MoneyTalksNews.com shares 15 ways to pull it off.
What you need to know first: The best red roses are ice cold. “If
the product is outside of a cold chamber, which is 32 to 36 degrees,
they lose life for every minute they’re outside that cold,” warns
Christine Boldt, executive vice president of the Association of Floral Importers (AFIF) Hence, this advice:
1. Never buy from the side of the road. They’ll only
last a day or two, because roadside vendors don’t get the best product.
“Those flowers are what we in the industry call seconds,” Boldt says.
2. Don’t buy online. You can save money and score
good deals online for almost anything – except flowers. Why? Boldt
answers that question with her own: Have you ever seen a refrigerated
UPS or FedEx truck? No.”
3. Do buy from grocery and even warehouse stores. Ask if those stores keep their flowers refrigerated. If so, then they can be just as long-lasting as those at a florist.
4. Look for tight buds. In other words, look for
flowers that don’t look good at that moment – because they’ll blossom in
a few hours and will stay that way for many days. If those buds are
already open, they’ll only last another day or two.
5. Use the food. If your flowers don’t come with a
tiny packet of flower food, ask for it. And use it. That packet isn’t a
gimmick – it really does help.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for replacements. If you
buy a jar of spoiled peanut butter, you take it back to the grocery
store. Florists (and other experienced retailers who sell flowers) know
that they sometimes stock buds that are duds. If you’ve taken all this
advice and they die early, ask for new ones.
What you need to know first: “Our number 1
money-saving tip is: Stay out of the restaurant and bring your
celebration home,” says Elizabeth Mascaali, one half of an event company
called Party BluPrint. But doing that right means:
7. Eat elsewhere. Romance means special, and eating
in the kitchen doesn’t cut it. “Make a move from the table to a cozy
spot in your home,” Mascaali says. If you have a fireplace, she
recommends spreading a blanket in front of it and dining “picnic style.”
8. Burn for your love. Let’s face it, flames are sexy. “Get a fire lit, whether it’s a fireplace or candles,” Mascaali says.
9. Put the petal to the metal. “Make one red rose
work for you,” Mascaali advises. “Take the petals off the rose and
sprinkle them all throughout the area. It really adds a luxurious look
and feel to your celebration.”
10. Don’t pay double for your bubbles. Most people
can’t tell good Champagne from bad. So why bother? Mascaali’s business
partner Dawn Sandomeno suggests, “Keep the cork on the Champagne and pop
the Prosecco. A really good bottle will run you $15 – a fraction of the
cost of Champagne.” A sparkling white wine from Italy, Prosecco is not
too sweet and cloying.
11. Flirt with dessert. The last thing you want on a
romantic evening is a heavy dessert to weigh down the romance. The best
solution is also a cheap one: sorbet. “It’s inexpensive and
refreshing,” Sandomeno says. But it can look pricey and exotic if you
buy several flavors. Sandomeno’s sexiest combo: “Tangerine and
pomegranate with a sprig of mint.”
What you need to know first: Set a budget and go
with your gut. “Don’t take the allure and the romance out of the
purchase and turn it into buying stocks and bonds,” says Jeff Malvin,
president of the Beverly’s Jewelers chain. “Just buy beautiful.” That means:
12. There’s more in store. We told you not to buy
flowers online. Well, that goes double for diamonds. Many online diamond
dealers tout that their stones are certified, so you don’t need to see
them. But if you’re spending a lot of money, comparing stones in person
and under magnification is important. Use the internet as a pricing
guide, but if you can get similar prices from a local jeweler, you’re
better off buying locally.
14. Certify before you buy. Speaking of
certificates, once you like the look, go by the book. Most people know
diamonds come with certificates that attest to their “Four Cs” – cut,
carat, color, and clarity. But even gold has marks you need to look out
for. “The manufacturer’s trademark must be on that item, close to the
karat stamp,” Malvin says.
15. But don’t go certificate-crazy. “The young lady
is not going to wear the certificate,” Malvin says. “So get the most
beautiful stone you can for your budget.” And if you get the hard-sell
from any jeweler, Malvin says take advantage of the competition for
carats: “If you walk in and don’t have a good feeling,” he says, “go to
the next place.”