Valentine's Day on a budget

FRESNO, Calif.

The average person will spend over $100.00 on Valentine's Day this year. But what if you can only afford $50.00, or just $25.00?

Consumer Watch went bargain shopping for all you lovers low on cash.

Our first stop: Dollar Tree, and straight to the greeting card aisle. No need to pay as much as $5.00 for a card, when here, they're two for a dollar. Mylar balloons of all shapes and sizes are, you guessed it, a dollar.

Our next stop: Costco, where a dozen long-stemmed roses will cost $14.99. Just find a vase and deliver it personally for added romance and savings. Forget forking out as much as $100.00 she'll never know the difference.

If your valentine has a sweet tooth Costco has See's Candies gift certificates, $26.00 will buy you two one-pound boxes (that's only $13 per box. They're normally $16.50 each.) Even cheaper, Costco's Kirkland chocolates are just $5.58, and were rated highly in Consumer Reports taste tests.

Jewelry is still the number one gifted item for Valentine's Day. Think outside the box and check out the showroom at the Fresno Coin Gallery. The cases are filled with glittering gold and dazzling diamonds, for much less than retail.

Philip Andrew Foster with the Fresno Coin Gallery said, "We don't have all the huge markup of the high retail, high overhead jewelry stores, but we have a nice inventory of jewelry."

Painting the town red doesn't need to put your budget in the red.

Keep checking daily discount websites like Groupon and Living Social. From restaurants to spa services, you can score deals 50% to 90% off. Remember to check the fine print. Some may have restrictions on holidays or special events.

Restaurant.com always has $25.00 gift certificates for just $10.00. But you usually have to order a minimum of $35.00 worth of food.

So what to wear on that special night out?

This time of year clothing retailers are trying to get rid of Christmas inventory. Fortunately, a lot of it is red, which is perfect for Valentine's Day."

For an all-day cost efficient activity, for just $20.00 per person, try Madera Wine Trail's "Wine and Chocolate Weekend" February 12th and 13th. Your ticket is good for all the chocolate, food pairings and wine you can eat and drink.

The key is planning ahead for Valentine's Day. If you end up waiting until the last minute, you end up paying, in more ways than one!

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