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Emily Starbuck Crone

Emily's list: Valentine's Day edition

Valentine's Day is kind of a lost cause for me. It comes on the heels of Hanukkah and Christmas (interfaith family), followed by my birthday on Feb. 11. By the time Feb. 14 rolls around, my husband is not excited about buying more gifts. We also celebrate our wedding anniversary in late March.

To keep the budget manageable, we always combine my birthday and Valentine's Day dinners. His birthday is mid-January, so it's close to Valentine's Day, too. To make things easier on each other, we generally don't give Valentine's Day gifts -- a dinner and card exchange are just fine. I don't need jewelry or $100 worth of red roses. Well, I'll take flowers if he gives them to me, and I'm always down to eat chocolate, but I don't demand it. I just want quality time together and some tasty food. Valentine's Day edition

While I really do value a sweet, handwritten card, as of this week, I no longer want a store-bought card. I was at CVS earlier this week and stopped in the card section to snag a Valentine's Day one for him. They were all either $4.49 or $4.99! And those weren't even the fancy ones. I was flabbergasted. If cards were still $1 or $2, I could justify the expense, but I can buy a cheap bottle of wine instead of a card for almost the same price!

I've decided that I would rather save the money and instead exchange notes written on regular paper. We feel so compelled to give gorgeous Valentine's Day greeting cards, when the only thing we really care about is the thoughtful note written inside. Don't get sucked into buying unnecessary crap, even though every retail store excels at making you think that you should. Ignore all of the red and pink and keep walking.

In this week's roundup, I'll start you off with six blog posts that offer great suggestions for affordable Valentine's Day presents and dates, then end with four enlightening posts about credit and debt. Enjoy!

1. Prairie Eco-Thrifter provides six ideas for a frugal and romantic Valentine's Day date.

2. Generation X Finance lists seven ways to have a more affordable Valentine's Day, from shopping in person to using "love coupons."

3. Money Under 30 shares 13 unique Valentine's Day gifts that are ideal for anyone who has a small budget, but wants a break from the stereotypical presents.

4. Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance suggests 16 cheap Valentine's Day activities and presents. One of my favorites is creating a scavenger hunt around the home!

5. Frugal Rules offers five Valentine's Day gift ideas for men who need something fun and affordable for their women.

6. Modest Money chimes in with some of his tips on Valentine's Day shopping on a budget, and reminds us that we should avoid the gimmicks and focus on our loved one's happiness.

7. Personal Finance Journey believes that being creative can make you debt-free, and she shares several creative strategies for saving and boosting income to pay it off more quickly.

8. The Money Principle shares their amazing story of how they eliminated over $150,000 in debt in just over three years.

9. A guest post on Budgeting in the Fun Stuff explains why he's a fan of credit cards and how to use them wisely in a way that benefits you.

10. After being in the hole for so long, it's not uncommon for debt repayment motivation to wane. PT Money reveals 10 strategies for staying "fired up" about paying down your debt and keeping momentum going.

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