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It may be a month away, but it’s not too early to plan for Valentine’s Day. With everyone tightening their belts this year, there is no reason that Valentine’s Day needs to suffer. Quite to the contrary, building an evening of romance on a limited budget is a great exercise to show that love romance and intimacy is not tied to your wallet or pocketbook. It’s simply about the two of you spending time together, sharing and having fun.

With everyone’s lives being extremely stressful this year, a great theme for Valentine’s Day is “Teamwork!” Use Valentine’s Day as a reminder of the basics: Whatever situation the economy has put you in, you are a team and can get through it together.

Here are a few tips to begin thinking about for this Valentine’s Day.

1 Lower your expectations.  Like many holidays, we seem to build expectations of what would constitute the perfect Valentine's Day.  Anything short of that perfect vision then leaves you feeling unsatisfied. There are many things out of your control, understand that real life will more than likely interfere at some point.

2 Plan with your partner.  We all like surprises and to see our partner make the effort to plan something they think we would enjoy. With life being extremely stressful this year, make it a team building exercise and plan it together.

3 Think communication.  Last month, we found a store than sells bulk candy, including some of the cheap penny candies we haven't seen since we were kids. We filled the bag, and plan on eating it on Valentine's Day, talking about the childhood memories the candy brings back. Similarly, look through childhood pictures, yearbooks or mementos and the memories associated with it. You'll be surprised at how fulfilling it can be, and how much you can still learn about your partner.

4 Eating Out.  Going out to dinner is a Valentine's Day tradition for many. If it's a tradition you would like to keep, begin searching your local newspaper now for Valentine's Day specials. Also search online for coupons and specials. It doesn't sound sexy or romantic, but also doesn't leave you with regret the next day for breaking your budget. Planning it ahead gives you the opportunity to scout the best deals plan your budget and not be stressed about it on Valentine's Day.

5 Eating In  If you are planning on staying in, plan a meal you can cook together. A variety of small finger foods is great, since you can cook, nibble and talk all at the same time.

6 No TV, no movies  TV and movies allow you to do one thing, watch. Think interaction instead. Ask friends if you can borrow a few board games that you don't currently own for the evening, so that you have a variety of different to choose from.

7 Mentally prepare  With the stresses of daily life, it becomes hard to suddenly unwind and relax. Everyone needs downtime from the business end of life to recharge their batteries. Begin reminding yourself now that you are allowed to take time off from the worries of daily life and enjoy each other's company.

8 Have a trial run  Similarly to number 7, it's hard to suddenly sit still and relax. Pick an evening or two before Valentine's Day to spend some time together. It's only natural that sitting down and spending time together will lead to discussions of work, finance and the kids. Planning on time beforehand allows you to purge yourself of those issues, and make Valentine's Day about the two of you.



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