Photo credit: Louis Leray

According to the National Retail Federation, the average person plans to spend $130.97 on Valentine’s Day gifts this year. Total spending will reach $18.6 billion. When it comes to buying gifts, how do we know what the right balance is between expressing love to our sweeties and yet also maintaining TLC towards our budgets?

Valentine’s Day gives us an opportunity to honor our significant others, but this authentic desire can be easily be redirected into excessive spending. As a financial advisor, I see time and again how the pressure to conform to cultural ideals of romance and the emphasis on consumerism can leave us feeling depleted both financially and emotionally.

Bombarded with advertising that features expensive gifts, we may feel that the amount of money we spend is a reflection of how much we value those we love.

How can we communicate how much we value our partners without overspending? How can we spend money in a way that aligns with our values?

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to consider whether your spending will nourish your own sense of MoneyZen and create a more meaningful Valentine’s Day for your loved ones:

  • Does this choice make me feel peaceful?
  • Am I doing this out of compulsion or a sense of abundance?
  • Does this reflect my values (sustainability, worker’s conditions, etc.)?
  • How else can I honor my loved one?
  • Will this gift truly enhance my loved one’s joy?

Valentine’s Day is also an excellent time to think more expansively about love and how we can give back to our communities. Instead of buying traditional gifts, couples can choose to support a non-profit that embodies their hopes for the world. If you want create and sustain a harmonious relationship, you could consider making a tax-deductible donation to a domestic violence shelter on behalf of love for all.

And this Valentine’s Day is extra special as it’s the 15th anniversary of V-Day, the movement started by Eve Ensler to end violence against women. I encourage you to watch this powerful video (Trigger Warning: includes depictions of violence) and consider sharing your love with women around the world by supporting the campaign. Whether you are single or part of a couple, V-Day offers a unique invitation to create a more meaningful Valentine’s Day.

The truth is that you are worth far more than any amount of money can measure. It is when we remember our own value and the value of our sisters, that we make wise, joyful decisions in our financial lives. Or as the poet Rumi so eloquently said, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”