So far I’ve been a very good bella with my no-buy-month pledge. The one big expense I was concerned about for the month of February? Valentine’s Day! It’s traditionally been a time of bounty for beauty product junkies like myself. And I know V-Day is a commercially-created creation, but I’m in love with love. I’ll admit to having done my share of Valentine’s Day overspending in years past. So when it came to planning an affordable day of romance, I felt kind of stuck. No grand gestures? No gifts? How on earth do you do Valentine’s Day on the cheap?

I had to ask my amiga Natalie McNeal, the Frugalista. I needed some guidance to help set me straight!

And here she is, with some great suggestions for a more affordable Valentine’s Day. Take it away, Natalie!

“Hello, Bellas! I’m so very honored that Afrobella allowed me to grace the pages of her blog. I’ve gotten to know Patrice live in the flesh and I promise you that her personality that shines through on her blog is just a small glimpse of her awesome bellaness. πŸ™‚

I run the blog, The Frugalista Files, and it’s no secret that this economy, hmmm, needs some work. It’s always good to respect your budget. That’s REAL LOVE. Everything else will fall into place.

One of the most valuable things in life is time. Once a time period has past, it’s gone forever. Money, eh. It’s been done before. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time. Quality time is at a premium. How often do we spend time stressed? Now, how often do you plan to enjoy your time with your mate? Use this Valentine’s Day to appreciate your loved one and cherish your life together.

Here are some Valentine’s Day tips for the Frugalista Bella:

1) Get a change of scenery. Go outside. If you live a warm climate like Afrobella and I, hit the beach or state park for a picnic. Bring some cheap wine (a personal favorite is Beringer Moscato that runs about $6 per bottle). Or you can splurge on a bottle of Moet, which is about $30 from the liquor store. Bring your iPod, and play your favorite love jams. Maybe you have a song that makes you think of your loved one. Make sure to play that at the beach/park outing. Now, if you are from where I’m originally from (Chicago) a picnic may not be an option. However, if it’s not freezing, go outside and make a heart in the snow for your boo. Tell him you want him make something in the snow for you, too. A short hike together will get you cold, and you can cuddle later to get warm. You may even have a deer sighting. Afterward, have some chocolate-covered strawberries and cocoa to warm you up at home.

2) Make a fancy dinner trying a NEW recipe from a gourmet grocery. I LOVE trying new recipes. Full disclosure: I only learned to cook over the last year, but, it’s so much fun trying a new recipe. If it turns out great, you would have accomplished something as a couple. If it tastes bad, you can joke about how at least you tried. It’s something you did TOGETHER. I made this Lemon Chicken in a Garlic and Herb Butter Sauce from The Fresh Market the other day. I LOVED IT.

3) Write a letter. You have to give people the roses while they can still smell them. Arrange for you and your snuggle bear to write each other love letters. People LOVE that stuff. It’s an ego stroke. Or, write a Top 10 Reasons I Love You More than Obama letter. I mean, we are proud of our first president, but make sure your lover gets equal gush time. Stroke that ego!

4) Attend a free concert together. I’m a big fan of free events. Sometimes businesses just want people to show up events. They make their money off advertising. Scour your local alternative news weekly or the Internet for suggestions. Or check out a Modern Art Museum together. Hold hands walking through the exhibit; sneak a few glances at each other. There’s nothing more entertaining than a Modern Art Museum. There are so many interesting things to see. Even if you don’t like some of the art, you can talk trash about it later.

5) Rent a movie together. The library has a wide selection of DVDs that your taxpayer dollars have paid for already, Blockbuster be damned. And for later that evening, wear your best lingerie! πŸ™‚

I think Natalie’s suggestions are all kinds of awesome. And I put my mind to it and came up with a pretty unique Valentine’s Day idea for me and my babester — this Saturday we’re going strawberry picking! That’s one thing I’ll miss about living in Miami. Where else can you go berry picking in February? So the plan is to head out to the U-Pick berry farm that’s closest by, pick some strawberries, pick some flowers, and that evening we can make our own chocolate-covered strawberries. And I’m a big fan of Frugal Valentine suggestion number 2, so you know I’ll come up with something yummy for us to enjoy for dinner. And YAY! Via Twitter I was contacted by Miami Herald reporter Ina Cordle, who featured me and my husband Steve in a lovely article about Valentine’s Day in the Miami Herald. YAY, LOVE!

At the end of it all, Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be about how much money you spend or even how much money you have. If you’ve got someone in your life who loves you, let them know how special they make you feel.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans?

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