For love or money? Have both this Valentine's Day

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Valentine's Day will be here in a week, which means Cupid's arrow is aimed right at our wallets.

The average American plans to spend about $134 on candy, cards and other tokens of love this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

That's a pretty penny for those on a budget, especially since we've hardly had time to recover from all that Christmas shopping.

But I wouldn't suggest opting out of the holiday altogether, because it can be a lot of fun.

When it comes to romance, a little creativity goes a long way. And if you're single, you get to enjoy the fun perks without spending too much on gifts.

Here are a few ways to save this year.

Dinner

While four-star dining is an incredible experience in Charleston, it's not exactly easy on the budget. However, local restaurants will offer some good deals on dinner next week.

To find dinner discounts near you, I'd suggest keeping an eye on social coupon websites throughout the week.

Ted's Butcherblock has already announced its date-night plans. The upscale deli will serve four-course meals for $20 to $36 on Valentine's Day. Plus, you can even get it for takeout to set up date night at home. Visit www.tedsbutcherblock.com for details.

Mixing it up

Singles, if you want to skip the candlelight and head straight for the cocktails, The Cocktail Club has you covered with drink specials and snacks at The Jilted Lovers Party from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday.

It's free to attend, and if you have a breakup horror story to tell, you could compete with the other scorned singles to win $250.

Gifts

Regardless of who you're buying for - grandchildren, your best friend or even pets - there will be plenty of ways to do it on the cheap this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Online retailers such as Amazon and Nordstrom.com will have special deals on Valentine's Day selections, and those items often ship for free.

One of my favorite gift sites is Cafepress.com, because they have creative trinkets starting at $5.

Flowers are always a nice gesture, but some bouquets can get pricey. Keep the cost down by breaking from the rose tradition and opting for flowers such as orchids or tulips. They're not always the cheaper option, but around Valentine's Day, roses are usually pretty marked up.

And don't forget, Valentine's candy goes on clearance the day after the holiday.

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail

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