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(Shopping Guide) Valentine’s Day

valentine's day shopping

Valentine’s Day occurs every year on February 14th.

Valentine’s day has been around for a very long time, though how it all got started is less known. Regardless of how Valentine’s day all began, it’s a holiday full of love and appreciation for those who are most important to us.

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Valentine’s Day History

The origins of Valentine’s Day are shrouded in long forgotten legends and stories. It either began as the anniversary of Saint Valentine’s death or as a Christian adaption of an old Pagan holiday.

Saint Valentine was a priest during the era of Rome. It is said that the Roman emperor banned marriage for young men because he needed soldiers. But Saint Valentine continued to perform weddings in secret for young lovers. When his defiance was found out, he was killed.

Other legends say he was killed because he was helping Christian refugees escape Roman imprisonment. While imprisoned it’s said he fell in love and sent love letters from prison signed, “from your Valentine.” Now we use the name “Valentine” to refer to someone we care about or love dearly.

But Valentine’s Day could also have Pagan origins from the festival of Lupercalia. This Pagan festival was celebrated on February 15th. It was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, and Romulus and Remus. As they did with many pagan holidays, the Catholic church made their own holiday during the Pagan festival of Lupercalia.

Whatever the true story is, the idea of valentine’s day is that it’s a day of romance, confessions, and affirmations.

valentines day gift

There are many ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s a holiday that can be whatever you want it to be!

You can celebrate Valentine’s Day by practicing some self-love, buying yourself something you want, having a relaxing day at home, or going out with friends. It can also be spent with a special someone on a nice Valentine’s Day date, or with friends and family that you care about.

However you choose to spend your Valentine’s Day, there might be Valentine’s Day gifts you’d like to buy to show your love and appreciation for those you care about. And if you really want to go all out this year, but need some financial help to do so, you can take out a Check City Personal Loan.

Below we’ll go over the most popular Valentine’s Day flowers and gift ideas for everyone!

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Her

Whether you need a special gift for your mother, your wife, or your girlfriend, these gift ideas are sure to wow the special woman in your life.

  • Jewelry
  • Clothes
  • Organizers
  • Makeup
  • Vanity mirror
  • Tech she wants
  • Beauty products
  • Spa gift basket
  • Personalized or custom made gifts

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Him

When buying a gift for a special someone in your life, the point is to show how much you cherish them. Sometimes this will mean getting them something they’ve been wanting, rather than something strictly romantic.

  • Massage gun or foam roller
  • Clothes
  • Custom made or custom engraved gifts
  • Beauty product gift baskets for men
  • Video games
  • Tech he wants

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Kids

Nieces, nephews, cousins, and your own children are also great Valentine’s Day gift recipients. They’ll love getting little gifts to remind them how special they are.

  • Games
  • Toys
  • Fun shirts
  • Books
  • Craft kits
  • Stuffed animals
  • Candy

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Coworkers

Coworkers can be some of the most appreciative Valentine’s Day recipients. Many of them probably won’t expect anything from you, so getting a valentine’s gift from a fellow coworker can be a fun surprise to brighten up their workday.

  • Engraved wallet
  • Mugs
  • Socks
  • Calendar
  • Desk toys, decor, or plants
  • Games
  • Designer office supplies

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Friends

Your friends deserve some extra appreciation on Valentine’s Day as well. They’ve been there for you through thick and thin and Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to thank them with a gift.

  • Games
  • Food
  • Puzzles
  • Gift box
  • Gift cards for restaurants
  • Custom friendship memorabilia

Gift Ideas for Galentine’s Day

As the world evolves we realize things like, having a boyfriend or a husband doesn’t determine a woman’s self-worth. That’s why Galentine’s Day was created, to remind women everywhere that self-love is just as important as romantic love.

For similar reasons, a day like Guyentine’s Day could be created! To let men everywhere know that their own self-love is just as important as the love they receive from others.

  • Funny shirts or socks
  • Book
  • Mug
  • Journal
  • Self-care gift basket
  • Trip to a salon
  • Lady’s night out
  • Guy’s night out

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Pets

As a society, our relationship with our pets is changing. We see them more as family members now and want to treat them as such. For this reason, Valentine’s Day is also a great day to buy something special for the furry friend in your life!

  • Fun clothes
  • Car seat
  • Blanket
  • New toy
  • New treat
  • Ball that rolls itself
  • Nanny cam for pets

Shop at Walmart by Clicking Here

At Walmart, you can get all kinds of Valentine’s Day goodies. They have chocolates, candies, stuffed animals, flowers, and even jewelry!

Shop at Target by Clicking Here

Target has stuff to help make your Valentine’s Day party a blast! You can find fun Valentine’s Day cards for the kids to pass out in class, exchange candies, and cute Valentine’s Day mailboxes to keep everything in!

Shop at Anthropologie by Clicking Here

Anthropologie is a popular place to get your Valentine something really nice. They have fragrant candles, beautiful dresses with Valentine’s Day colors, red jeweled earrings, and more!

Shop at Nordstrom Rack by Clicking Here

Nordstrom Rack is a great place to find quality items for your sweetheart at reasonable prices. You can get matching Valentine’s Day mugs, Valentino perfume, and deluxe candy boxes to make your lover swoon.

Shop on Amazon by Clicking Here

Right now you can watch Amazon Live, sponsored by Hallmark to see first hand the kind of great items you can get for your loved one on Valentine’s Day. Some of the most popular items include a Dash mini heart-shaped waffle maker, a Hamilton Beach digital air fryer oven, and a Wilton chocolate fountain.

Shop at Hallmark by Clicking Here

Hallmark has been a staple brand for cards and gifts for a long time. At Hallmark, you can find thoughtful gifts for under $10, $20, or $30.

Valentine’s Day Flowers and Their Meanings

valentines day flowers

Here we’ll go over a complete guide to Valentine’s Day flowers, so you can figure out the perfect flower arrangement full of thoughtfulness and meaning.

Rose

Roses are by far, one of the most romantic flowers to receive on Valentine’s Day. They also come in a wide range of colors and meanings if you want to get poignant with your Valentine bouquet.

Rose Color Meaning
White Rose: innocence
Red Rose: love
Pink Rose: sweetness
Yellow Rose: friendship
Orange Rose: desire or admiration
Lavender Rose: love at first sight or enchantment
Tulip

Tulips are an elegant flower that can come in literally any color. They are the perfect flower to show sophistication along with simple beauty. Tulips generally signify perfect love, so you can easily just get a bouquet in the recipient’s favorite color.

Tulip Color Meaning
Red Tulip: true love
Purple Tulip: royalty
White Tulip: forgiveness
Yellow Tulip: cheerfulness
Lily

Lilies are a striking flower that can’t help but be noticed. As a whole, the lily flowers represents devotion and purity. They are also associated with motherhood and rebirth, so if you’re looking for a flower to give the mother of your children, this is the flower for you.

Lily Color Meaning
Calla Lily: faithfulness
Day Lily: a mother’s devotion
White Lily: virtue
Pink Stargazer Lily: prosperity
Red Lily: passion
Orange Tiger Lily: confidence
Carnation

Carnations are the perfect gift to get someone who was born in the month of January since carnations are the birth flower of that month. But they are a flower that also comes in many many colors with lots of different meanings you could use.

Carnation Color Meaning
Red Carnation: love
White Carnation: pure love
Pink Carnation: gratitude
Purple Carnation: impulsive
Orchid

Orchids are a wonderful plant to get someone who loves to decorate their home and who wants to keep their flower for a long time. When cared for orchids can continue to bloom for years to come.

Orchid Color Meaning
White Orchid: elegance
Purple Orchid: admiration
Yellow Orchid: friendship
Baby’s Breath

Though the baby’s breath flower doesn’t come in many colors, it is a common flower used to fill out beautiful flower arrangements. It is a symbol of everlasting love and the sincerity of someone’s feelings.

Daisy

The daisy is a bright and cheerful flower that stands for innocence, purity, and cheerfulness.

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemums are a popular flower. They make very full bouquets and can effortlessly adorn the inside and outside of your home.

Chrysanthemum Color Meaning
White Chrysanthemum: devoted love
Red Chrysanthemum: deep passion
Violet Chrysanthemum: get-well soon
Iris

The iris may be one of the most regal looking flowers. They have an elegant, royal look that can be perfect for representing your feelings this Valentine’s Day.

Iris Color Meaning
Purple Iris: wisdom
Yellow Iris: passion
Blue Iris: faith
White Iris: purity

The possibilities for how you can celebrate this day of love are vast. There are gifts and flowers for every situation. Use this guide to help you plan your Valentine’s Day to really make it special this year.


Budgeting in 4 Easy Steps

budget

No matter your financial situation in life, everyone needs a budget. With a budget, you can plan for needed expenses and prepare for the things you want!

In fact, the most simple budget only needs a couple of lists, a calculator, and some goals. Below are the main points our post will go over to help you set up your budget:

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Budgets are an important tool in anyone’s financial arsenal. Budgets can help you organize your needed expenses, like rent and bills, prepare for emergencies and get ready for whatever your future might hold. By knowing how to budget you can learn to stop living paycheck to paycheck and start building up your savings. it can help you save up for big expenses or future life events like a wedding, starting a family, buying a car or a house or moving to a new state.

Budgeting can also help you save for retirement, something else that even younger people just starting out on their own sometimes forget to think about but should. But most of all it can grant you financial power and freedom and help you provide for your wants and needs. But for those just starting out on their own especially, it can be hard to know where to begin.

There are several key elements you’ll need to include in your budget. You need to think about all your necessary expenses and plan them out accordingly so you are aware of how much of your monthly income you need to spend each month no matter what. Then you’ll have to think about unnecessary expenses. This is where you have the most freedom to plan out the numbers and make adjustments.

budget-template

How to Budget

There are many ways to budget and there is a lot of advice out there in the financial spheres about how to do it. You can also choose to plan for certain events by making a specific wedding budget, or for major purchases like car payments. But if you’re making a simple budget for yourself, then the main thing you’ll want to decide first is whether you want to make a monthly or yearly budget. Most people like to create a yearly one to get a general big picture view of their financial goals and future plans. But, a monthly one is more helpful for everyday use. We’re going to try and condense all that down to the bare bones minimum of what every smart budget needs.

#1: List your monthly income

List out all your forms of income. This would include the paychecks from your job, but also any extra money you make from any of your side hustles. Here is also where you can decide whether you want to organize your finances for gross income or net income.

Gross income is simpler and easier to calculate. You just need to know how much you get paid and use that money for your calculations.

Net income isn’t as simple to figure out but there are advantages to using it. You figure out your net income by looking up what the income tax is in your state, and taking out that percentage from your gross income. Using net income instead of gross income is perhaps better because it more realistically reflects what you will actually receive from your paycheck.

#2: List your fixed expenses

After you have all your sources of income written down you’ll want to form another list for all your fixed expenses. Fixed expenses are the expenses you have each month that doesn’t fluctuate in amount. Everyone’s list is going to look different depending on what expenses do and don’t apply to you, but here is an example list of some fixed expenses:

  • Rent or Mortgage: A calculation you’ll want to do when looking at your housing expenses is to check that your total housing expenses aren’t over 28% of your monthly gross income.
  • Insurance
  • Debts: A calculation you’ll want to do when looking at your debts is to check that your total debts aren’t over 36% of your monthly gross income.
  • Loans
  • Student loans
  • Credit card payments
  • Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify
  • Phone bill
  • Medication you pay for each month
  • Child support
  • Education

After you’ve listed all your fixed expenses total the amount, subtract it from your monthly income, and that’s what you have left to spend on varied expenses . . .

#3: Set up your savings

Before we go into varied expenses though, let’s take a moment to think about your savings and retirement. Get a savings account if you don’t have one already, and set aside a portion of what’s leftover after fixed expenses. Any amount you can afford to put away into a savings account each month will set you up for success in the long term, even if it’s only 5 to 10 dollars a month.

Aside from general savings and saving for retirement, you also want to set money aside in an emergency fund. It’s recommended that you have at least 3 months’ worth of your fixed expenses put away into an emergency fund at all times.

Digit is a great app you can use to help you plan and organize all your savings.

#4: List and portion out your varied expenses

Everyone’s list of varied expenses is going to look different depending on what expenses do and don’t apply to you. Varied expenses are any expenses that are going to fluctuate in amount each month, or are considered more like luxury expenses than needed ones.

Varied expenses are a big reason to do a budget in the first place so that your varied expenses each month don’t overtake your more important fixed expenses and your savings. Here are some examples of varied expenses you might need to consider:

  • Groceries
  • Eating out
  • Entertainment
  • Gas and transportation
  • Recreation
  • Clothes
  • College textbooks

Another way to figure out the reality of what you’re spending on varied expenses is to look at your transaction history for the month and see 1) How much in total you were spending on varied expenses that month, and 2) What those varied expenses were on. Do this for a couple of months back to get a more realistic idea of what you are spending on varied expenses each month.

Organizing your varied expenses is where you have the most control over your budget. Whatever is left over after your fixed expenses and your monthly payments to your savings account is what you have to spend on all your other spending for the month.

Here is where you will list out what all those varied expenses might be and portion what you have left in the budget into them. Remember that you don’t necessarily want to portion out 100% of what’s left into these categories so that you can accumulate a comfortable cushion in not just your savings account but your checking account as well.

Budgeting Tips

Invest

Making investments is a great way to beef up your financial portfolio. There are probably a trillion ways to invest, but the idea behind investments is that you put money into something that will give you more money in return later. This is called compounding interest.

interest-rate

A helpful tip to remember when going into any investment is the rule of 72. This rule means that if you take 72 divided by the interest rate you’ll figure out the estimated number of years it will take for your interest to double your initial investment.

Personal Capital and Acorns are some of the most helpful investing apps you can use to step up your investment game.

Where should I put my budget?

Figuring out where to even put your budget can get complicated. You can use excel or make your own table in Word or Google Docs or any note-taking program of your choice. There are also many free budget templates online that you can print out and use. Budget tools are all around if you take the time to look and decide on which ones best suit your needs.

Click here for a free budget worksheet from the Federal Trade Commission.

You can also use budgeting apps to keep track of all your bills, expenses, plans, and goals. Some of these apps even allow you to connect your budget to your financial accounts.

Control your spending

Sometimes it can be difficult to control your varied expenses throughout the month and track your spending. You can make controlling how much you spend each month easier by using a prepaid debit card. With a prepaid debit card, you put money on it like a gift card to yourself almost. You can also use a similar method of spending control by just taking money out and only using that cash for your varied expenses each week.

PocketGuard is an app that can help you track your purchases.

Get a Side Gig

Getting an extra source of income can really come in handy. There are a million different kinds of side hustles any ambitious person these days can get into. You can babysit, drive for uber, or sell your own products. The possibilities are endless and it never hurts to have a little extra money each month.

Plan to Decrease Debts

Debt can be a real financial weight on your shoulders, but it can also be a necessary evil in order to get a house, get a car, get through college, and much more. Decreasing the amount of debts you owe can still help alleviate some of that weight and provide more financial comfort and peace of mind.

So it’s important to budget with paying down your debts in mind. You can pay down debts quicker by planning to spend more on that fixed/necessary expenses each month, by spending less on varied expenses, or by getting another job to provide more income to put into your debts each month.

Budgeting doesn’t have to be hard. All you really need is 4 lists and a calculator! Everyone should practice using a budget now so that you can control your finances instead of your finances controlling you.

READ MORE

Check out some of other Check City articles on budgeting:
Budgeting for Dummies

What is a Budget?

Budgeting Tips You May Not Have Thought of Before

3 Simple Tips to Building a Budget

Ways to Keep Track of Your Spending


Saving Money on Wedding Invites

Fall is finally here and for many happy couples that means the beautiful fall wedding that they’ve been dreaming about all summer. As anyone who has planned a wedding before knows, weddings aren’t’ cheap, so anywhere you can save a dollar or two is worth it. In previous posts we’ve talked about several ways you can save money on a wedding, including saving money on the reception and even when buying a gift for someone else but in today’s post we’ll be covering how you can save some money on your wedding invitations.

Wedding invitations are seemingly obligatory to an excellent wedding because of the purpose they serve in announcing the upcoming marriage. By so doing, the wedding announcements and invitations serve to invite friends and loved ones to come celebrate the nuptials with the happy couple.

Without Announcements… How Will People Know?

And perhaps most importantly, besides the above meaningful reasons of course, realistically speaking, how is a couple going to receive gifts from people without sending wedding invitations to everyone they can collectively think of? Still, however, wedding invitations can be fun to pick out, design, and create, all while serving the valuable purpose of inviting and announcing the upcoming wedding day.

But wedding invitations can also be a costly expenditure if the couple is not careful or wise in how they choose to handle them. Splurging for a wedding is completely natural and even expected in most cases, but the wedding invitations in particular are one area of the wedding planning process that a couple choose to go frugal in without losing any of the wedding’s elegance or grandeur.

Cheap Doesn’t Have to Mean Ugly

Contrary to what some may think, deciding to spend less on wedding invitations does not directly translate into having less than stellar announcements. Good looking and beautiful invitations can be purchased and sent out by the couple at a lower cost if they will simply strive follow sound advice on how to save money on wedding invitations.
One of the first ways that a future married couple can save on their wedding invites is by understanding a few practical points concerning shipping costs and how shipping costs are calculated. For example, square shaped envelopes cost more to mail per item than do the normal rectangle shaped envelopes.

This fact of square envelopes costing more than rectangle ones is due largely to the fact that square envelopes do not fit into the standard shipping machinery used by the post office. The square shaped envelopes must therefore be stamped and process individually, by hand in most cases, which in turn boosts the overall costs of mailing the announcements significantly.

Instead of square shaped announcements, a couple can choose to use the standard shaped rectangle envelopes when mailing their invitations so that the added cost of square envelopes does not tip the budget. Additionally, the fad of including pre-stamped envelopes in the wedding invites for the invited guest to RSVP is long over.

The added cost of stamping an equal number of envelopes as wedding invitations literally doubles mailing costs for the announcements. Instead, a couple can consider making a simple wedding website or Facebook page that their invited guests can log onto to RSVP electronically, thereby saving money both on shipping and envelopes.

Save Money With Social Media

This increasingly common practice being employed by future married couples of using social media to handle RSVPs brings up the money saving practice of making use of technology when creating and sending wedding invites. While sending a mass text or a Facebook e-vite to all is still considered a little tacky for such a formal event as a wedding, there are other ways that a couple looking to save on wedding invitations can utilize technology to lessen the costs of the invites themselves.

One such way that proper use of technology can help a couple reduce the costs of their wedding invites involves the use of maps in the wedding announcements. In times past, couples would include a printed mini map in every announcement that would show guests how to get to the location of the wedding or wedding reception.

Including printed maps into every invitation can quickly add to the cost of each printed invitation, so instead use again a wedding website, blog, or Facebook page to provide the information on locations to the invited guests. The URL for these online helpers can easily and inexpensively be added to the bottom of the invitation.

Choosing the right place to have the invitations created and printed can also translate into big savings, or big expenses, for the happy couple. A bride and groom should shop around for different printing prices and competitive rates.

Additionally, there may be places that offer entire wedding packages that would include invitations in the discounted price. By knowing how to mitigated costs on wedding invitations, a couple can save more money overall on their special day.

Planning Your Wedding on a Budget

It’s almost August and that means we’re in the middle of the summer wedding season. In honor of all the weddings that take place each week during these warm summer months we’re going to discuss how you can plan and stay within a budget while putting your summer wedding together. When you’re engaged and getting ready to get married, your budget may be more important than it has ever been. Planning a wedding on a budget can be difficult and it is important that you understand what your reality is going to be with your wedding. There are a lot of brides that just don’t understand how much everything is going to cost with their wedding. When you do not understand how much things cost, it can be very difficult to lower your expectations. Rather than lowering your expectations, it is important that you are realistic from the beginning.

Set Realistic Expectations

First, you should realize that what you see on television is not an accurate representation of reality. There are reality television shows that depict a bride looking for a dress with her loved ones. The prices of the dresses that they show you are usually not the real price of the dress. This can be very frustrating to brides that see their dream dress on television and can’t seem to find the same dress for the same price anywhere. Rather than basing your budget for your dress off of what you see on the television, it is important that you look through stores and really get to know the real prices of wedding dresses in your area.

Set The Right Time Frame

Second, when you are planning your wedding you should be sure that you give yourself enough time to stay in your budget. Many brides do not realize just how expensive last minute changes are or how hard it can be to do things on a budget without enough time. If you are planning on doing any do it yourself decorations, you want to make sure that you have the time to create something that is exactly what you want.

When you plan your engagement, you should be giving yourself enough time to ensure that you are going to be able to stay in your budget. Don’t rush through to your wedding if you think that you are not going to be able to stay within your budget. If don’t set a realistic timeframe for planning your wedding you may need to pay for the expenses of your wedding with a credit card or short term loan.

Prioritize Your Spending

Third, make sure that you know what is most important to you with your wedding. There are a lot of people that just do not prioritize their money well when they are setting their budget. Make a list of expenses that are most important to you. You should be sure that the expenses are covered and that you splurge on the things that are most important to you. By doing this, you can be sure that you are able to save money elsewhere.

Giving yourself the time that you need to understand how you are going to prioritize your wants and your future spouses wants is integral to staying within the budget and still loving your wedding. Don’t be afraid to adjust your priorities as you go, but make sure that you have the budget to make the changes that you decide you want to make.

Continue Cultivating Your Relationship

Fourth, throughout your engagement it is important that you remember why you are planning your wedding. There are a lot of people that get so caught up in the details of their wedding that they forget about their marriage. When you are planning your wedding, you should be sure that you understand how you are going to continue to cultivate your relationship with your future spouse. Taking the time that you need to get away from wedding planning and continue to cultivate your relationship is necessary.

Finally, the day of your wedding can be a great day. When you are getting ready on your wedding day, try to remember how much you love your future spouse. There are a lot of people that get so caught up in details or small hiccups that they are not able to really be present and enjoy the day that they spent so much time planning. It is so important that you understand how you are going to take time that day to really appreciate all of the planning and the love that has gone into your wedding day. Take time to think about the love of everyone that has surrounded you on your special day and revel in the beauty of your wedding day. Don’t be afraid to take a few breathers, sit back and really take in everything that you have put into your special day. Your wedding day will be well worth the effort you put into it.

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