Love does cost a thing

The turkeys have been gobbled, the pine trees have been unadorned and the confetti was washed out of our hair on New Year’s Day. The holidays over the break undoubtedly left college students with fuller stomachs, but emptier wallets. Nonetheless, we packed our bags with excitement. Excitement for what, you say? To see our school friends, take new classes, and party to our heart’s content—without parents frowning over our shoulders! However, just like any other initial hurrah, after the first week we were left wondering, “When is the next holiday?” For many, the answer of Valentine’s Day left them groaning, rolling their eyes, or even projectile vomiting. Perhaps the last statement was an exaggeration, but rarely do I ever find people responding positively to this lovey-dovey holiday. Why is this?

“Why should we express our love on this one day of the year? That’s so shallow.”

“Valentine’s Day is such a corporate holiday. Everything is so commercialized.”

“I’m single and have no Valentine.”

Do you know what these answers are? Excuses. Well, except for the last one—sorry friend, better luck next year. Otherwise, those words are just clever jargon for masking the truth: the college student who opposes celebrating Valentine’s Day is, in the simplest of terms – being cheap. Please, spare us the typical lines and just fess up: you do not want to spend any money on this lousy holiday because you are a broke (or stingy) college student. However, Valentine’s Day is not too expensive for a college student, and here is why.

First and foremost, it seems to me that the issue here is not only the money, but also the effort. Just like any other holiday, Valentine’s Day requires a decent amount of preparation. The college student must brainstorm as to what their Valentine may enjoy and then figure out how to make it possible. This may involve putting down the PS4 controller or stop binge-watching Netflix for a moment to collect your thoughts. Effort actually does not cost a penny.

Now that the college student has an idea in his or her head as to what to do, a hole in the plan might surface: lack of funds. The college student may grimace as he or she fumbles through an empty wallet. In this moment, reflect on what you spent your money on in the past weeks. Does the list go something like this: beer, Sub Shop, useless online shopping, pizza, liquor, milk for your mac and cheese, calzones, cappuccinos, D-Bus fares and more beer? That’s what I thought. Had you been more aware of your spending sprees you could skip the hippy excuses and afford Valentine’s Day. Instead of your upset girlfriend (or boyfriend—hey, they’re sensitive too) telling you this, I am —but because I’m such a pal, I’ll also tell you how to avoid this lecture, even on a low budget.

What you need is some creativity. The romance begins with a piece of blank paper. Simply fold it in half to make a card, decorate, fill with inside jokes and words of love, and voila! A customized, instant and priceless gift. Bonus points if you take the time to write a love poem inside. In fact, even if you are not the next Shakespeare, funny love poems are usually just as good. Really, the idea is to use whatever talents you possess to give your Valentine a wonderful (and free) gift.

Are you a talented singer and guitar player? I guarantee if you perform “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, your date will be in the palm of your hand for the rest of the day. If you’re tone deaf and musically impaired, why not hire your musician friend to perform for you and your date? I bet they’ll do it for $5 (seriously, college kids are broke). Or if you’re really feeling cheesy, make mock coupons that your Valentine can cash in whenever they want. For example, write on them: “Good for one home-cooked dinner,” (I hope your date likes ramen noodles) or, “Watch any show of your choice, even if it’s the one about rich hillbillies.” The possibilities are endless.

In short, Valentine’s Day is what you make of it. If you want to break the bank and go all out for your Valentine, I tip my hat to you. However, if you’re the average college student on a tight budget, it is effort that is more significant than money. If your Valentine does not have enough sense to appreciate that, then perhaps it’s time for a different Valentine.