Hey! Have you heard the news? It’s Valentine’s Day and whether you’re single, newly coupled or in it for the long haul, there are plans for you!
Big, elaborate plans. Like booking a girlfriends’ trip to Italy and staying in a private villa — because even if you’ve got a mound of credit card debt waiting at home, honey, you deserve it (and for that matter: screw men!). Or, booking an intimate couples’ massage, followed by dinner for two and theatre tickets — while your rainy day fund is … um, well, you’ll think about that another day. And don’t forget the magic word: upgrade. It applies to jewelry, boxes of chocolate and reservations all the same.
Except, of course, these plans are optional. As is the acknowledgment of Valentine’s Day altogether. And if you’re looking to save this holiday, maybe it’s best to do what I do: Just opt out.
There are certain holidays — I’m looking at Valentine’s Day, of course, though there are other dates equally guilty — that invoke a certain evangelist-participatory culture where, if a person doesn’t have grandiose plans, she is, in short, a loser.
That’s why we’ve coined terms like “staycation” and “backyard tourist” to justify the times we scrimp and save on our “me time” (another genius phrase we use for when, quite simply, we want to be left alone). That way other people know, as much as we’d love to go in on a group house for the long weekend, we’ve got bigger (and less expensive) fish to fry.
It’s not that I’m anti-Valentine’s Day, necessarily, or that I expect a mass exodus from the candy aisle as citizens unite against Hallmark. Want to shower your loved one with a Whitman’s sampler and plush animal of his choosing? That’s your choice.
What I strongly dislike, though, is the expected show of emotion by way of our wallets. And why we bother justifying our behavior, or spending patterns, to begin with? If I want to take a trip to Italy with a half dozen of my closest gal pals, I’ll do it — with or without Cupid’s quivering arrow lurking in the shadows. Because I’m single, is going to dinner solo the equivalent of “taking myself out” — or am I just a hungry person in search of a good meal?
Really, it boils down to a mindset more than money. Regardless of what you’ve got to spend — money or time-wise — the bottom line is this: You don’t need permission to treat yourself. You also don’t need a special occasion (or euphemistic term) to do it, earmarked by Fear Of Missing Out and a passively competitive culture. If you want to go big, just do it — or don’t. No explanation required.