Who Says Practical Can’t Be Romantic? Valentine’s Day for the Sensible Sweetheart

Does Valentine’s Day seem frivolous? After all, movies and television show us over and over again that Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day for cards, candies, and flowers. Possibly champagne and dancing.

Most people don’t associate Valentine’s Day with words like practical. But I knew on our first Valentine’s Day together that Jon was a little different. For our first Valentine’s Day as a couple, my imminently sensible sweetheart gave me a programmable thermostat.


He then proceeded to explain, despite my dubious reaction, what a truly romantic gift a programmable thermostat could be. If we spent less on heating and cooling, we’d have more to spend on fun evenings throughout the year. We might save enough to fund an extra weekend away or a week long vacation.

Suddenly, sensible sounded positively sexy.

This year, I celebrate Valentine’s Day #12 with Jon. Over that time, he has convinced me that practical can also be romantic. Romance isn’t all candlelight and roses, it’s also cuddly nights under blankets. Small comforts that last months and months feel far sweeter these days than chocolates that will be gone in a week.

In honor of my sensible sweetheart (and only slightly tongue in cheek), I give you several practical gifts that can melt any heart.


Who Says Practical Can't Be Romantic? Valentine's Day for the Sensible Sweetheart

Soft Sheets

You know what’s better than a comfortable bed? Not much. High thread count soft cotton sheets cost a bit more, but they last for years and they’ll improve the quality of your sleep. Buy a set and you’ll never want to sleep on anything else.

Basically, anything that makes your time in bed more comfortable is a great idea for Valentine’s Day. Pillows and mattress pads need to be periodically replaced, and V-Day can be a great excuse to go ahead and do that. Blankets (especially an electric blanket) can keep you toasty and warm.

No, you won’t get by as cheaply as if you’d just bought a bottle of wine, but the idea of a comfy bed has its place in the pantheon of romantic ideals.

Good Towels

Along the same lines, I really appreciate good towels as well. Older towels can start feeling stiff, but new fluffy towels make the experience of drying off much more pleasant.

A Car Wash

For many of us, winter is a time when we need to wash our cars. Salt and slush get on the paint and undercarriage, and it’s a lot harder to motivate yourself to get out in the cold and get the car clean.

So what can be nicer than having someone do it for you? Whether your sensible sweetheart washes your car by hand or takes it through an automatic car wash, a clean car is just more fun to drive. Not to mention, a good car wash helps keep rust away and helps your car last longer. Clean windows improve your visibility, making you safer. It may not be the world’s sexiest gift, but it can be a way of making you feel safe and cherished.

A Modem and/or Router

Just as Jon’s programmable thermostat saved us a lot of money to do other things, so can getting rid of the modem and/or router that you rent from your internet provider. For the equivalent of a couple of months rent, you can replace the rentals with your own and kick that monthly expense to the curb.

A Programmable Coffee Maker

Got a morning coffee shop habit? Pick up a programmable coffee maker and start making your coffee before bed. Then pour your coffee in a travel cup in the morning and Ta-Dah! You’re saving money every day.

A Day Off

No, I don’t mean work for them. I just mean give your loved one a day to themselves…no kids, no chores, no errands. Take on the little things, get out of the house for a while and let your loved one binge-watch all those shows you don’t want to watch anyway.

Live Plants

If your dearest loves flowers but you just can’t see spending a fortune on roses for a day, consider a potted plant instead of cut flowers. It’ll last much longer (especially if you buy a perennial), and you’ll have a wider variety to choose from.

Alternate Meal Plans

Valentine’s Day has traditionally been a day when couples go out for dinner. However, in the evening restaurants are full and prices go up. Plus, if you have younger kids, you have to find a good babysitter who isn’t already booked.

If your work schedule allows, meet up for lunch instead. 

You’ll still get the meal out experience, probably pay less, and maybe skip the babysitter for school or daycare.

Alternately, stay home and cook on Valentine’s Day itself and make your Valentine’s Gift an IOU on a nice dinner out on a later date.

Practical Can be Romantic

Not every Valentine’s Day gift needs to be an over-the-top romantic gesture. Not every act of love is frivolous.

Heck, Jon was able to make new wiper blades for my car a loving gift just by pointing out how much safer the new blades would make me.(and how much he’d hate it if something bad happened.).

You just have to show concern and care for your partner. Do that, and your Valentine will find the sweetness in even the most sensible gift.

Do you have a sensible sweetheart? What’s your best suggestion for a practical Valentine’s Day gift?

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich and Femme Frugality*

25 thoughts on “Who Says Practical Can’t Be Romantic? Valentine’s Day for the Sensible Sweetheart

  1. I love the idea of gifts pertaining to one’s safety. To me that shows love. We’re not into gift giving at all on Valentine’s Day. But we do like to eat at one of our cheap, dive institutes like Sonic, although last year it was too cold to sit in a parking lot and eat. So far we’re having a pretty warm winter. Hopefully I’l be chomping down on a bag of onion rings with my name on it. Enjoy celebrating #12 with Jon!
    Mrs Groovy recently posted…The Real Culture WarMy Profile

    • Yeah, mild weather hasn’t been lacking this year, other than that first week of February. Hope you guys get a nice picknicky lunch!

  2. LOVE this post, Emily!!!

    My sweetheart is very sensible! Just last week, he washed my car and cleaned the windows. Awww! It doesn’t sound romantic, but he totally spoils me with things like this.

    Though we don’t need a babysitter any more, we still tend to enjoy breakfast out. I love lingering over coffee and chatting without the normal morning rush.
    Amanda @ centsiblyrich recently posted…Do you fight about money? The best first steps to takeMy Profile

    • I love breakfast out, too, Amanda. It always feels decadent, plus it’s cheap! And now that I’ve lived with sensible for a while, I know how nice it can be. I feel totally treated when Jon washes my car or brings me a cup of coffee in the morning.

  3. Great ideas. I like the gift ideas where you give your spouse a break from the regular routine, a day off from chores or the “to do” list, washing the car and cleaning it out is another great surprise. We often meet for lunch dates too.

    Our standard is a nice home cooked meal and a movie at home. Wishing #12 is as sensible as the rest!
    Brian @ Debt Discipline recently posted…Net Worth Update: January 2017My Profile

    • Thanks, Brian! Yeah, at this point, getting a day to myself or Jon getting a day to himself is one of the biggest treats we can get…we rarely do that. Best wishes to you as well.

    • You do have to make sure everyone’s on the same page, lol, and there are times I have been a little taken aback when Jon gets uber-sensible in his gifting.
      Cozy beds are awesome. Hope you and Suzanne have a nice holiday!

  4. PiC usually brings me a flower and a few donuts which I think are EMINENTLY sensible: they make me happy and they’re not around long. Also they’re very frugal treats. 🙂

    We do things for each other all the time, or we like to think of the household chores as a bit of a gift to the other person. I normally do all our laundry, which I enjoy, and that’s my gift to him so that he doesn’t have to think about it. He does our dishes, and packs JuggerBaby’s lunch, so that I don’t have to think about it. These are enough for us, I’d rather feel especially loved every week of the year than on any particular single day.
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life recently posted…Net Worth & Life Report: January 2017My Profile

    • Ha, like doughnuts (or breakfast biscuits) as a special treat. If Jon goes on a breakfast run, I feel very loved.

      Yes, chores are acts of love. That’s a terrific way of thinking about it. And while it’s nice to have a special day to celebrate, it’s far more important to do things every day. One day won’t make a relationship, sustained effort every day will.

    • It’s very frugal. Most of the stuff on here costs less than the traditional dinner out (and surely less than jewelry!)

  5. My hubby’s kinda on the serious side of life, but a greatly appreciate it. He plans our future as early as now. His gift which is a secured future is sensible and practical to me. That way, I won’t worry that much knowing that we are already prepared for our golden age together. Our relationship goes like “A couple that does retirement planning together, stays together.” <3
    Sally Riley recently posted…A List of Vices that Turn the Retirement Years Inside OutMy Profile

    • I like that, Sally! Yeah, planning your future together is important. You’re much more likely to reach goals if you are working together rather than apart. And aging together is the picture I always see when I see “happily ever after.”

  6. It wasn’t on Valentine’s Day, but my Birthday around 1989 or so. My car desperately needed new tires. Jim said my tires were getting dangerous, they were so worn. The problem was the car was a Mercedes 480 S class and they were pricey. So on my Birthday I got four, bright, shiny new Michelin High Performance Tires. At that time I think the cost was upwards of $550 or $600. I really appreciated it, but a card and dinner would have been fine.

  7. I will be honest Emily, I had a good laugh when I read “programmable thermostat” 🙂 You have given a nice list of suggestions. I like the live plant and car wash.

    How about buying a couple’s massage – it would be romantic. May be one or two times a year, I book it on a week day when the kids are in school. Sarah and I take the day off and just relax. Or you could go do an activity like indoor skydiving, or do something out doors.
    Michael recently posted…Drinking WaterMy Profile

    • Hey, congrats on reaching the end point, Francesca! Yes, if someone spends money on a need so you don’t have to, it’s an awfully nice bonus. I never realized how nice my dad was being when he bought me car insurance for Christmas as a teen until I had to start paying it myself.

  8. I absolutely love practical gifts! I mostly love giving them to my loved ones, but receiving something useful as a gift is fantastic, too!

    For the past few years, we’ve stopped looking for “romantic” gifts, and started being a lot more practical. After a while, you realize it’s not the gift that makes a day romantic. It’s the other person! And when you also combine your finances as a couple, buying lavish gifts on every single special occasion seems financially irresponsible.
    Adriana @MoneyJourney recently posted…Retirement saving options for the self employedMy Profile

    • I guess I’m lucky in that a lot of the more expensive impractical gifts don’t interest me very much, but getting presents like a programmable thermostat and windshield wipers almost seems too practical unless they are accompanied by bottles of wine. Thanks for coming by, Adriana.

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