Valentine's Day has long posed a threat to an otherwise healthy savings account, and studies show the holiday is only getting more expensive. According to IBISWorld, Americans spent an average of $134.08 on Valentine's Day in 2013 -- and almost 10 percent of that was on flowers.
According to Floral Management magazine, flower sales saw a big bump last Valentine's Day, with seven out of 10 florists reporting sales gains.
As Valentine's Day planning kicks into full swing, budgeting for a romantic gesture at a practical price is a challenge that is easily won by following a few key guidelines.
Those searching for ways to save money on Valentine's Day flowers still have an opportunity this week to catch the best Valentine's Day deals before the big day. Despite the popularity of this commercial holiday, finding an arrangement that keeps within a strict budget is doable.
1. Daily deals for floral delivery services
The first place to find Valentine's Day flowers for less is on daily deal websites, like Groupon, LivingSocial and AmazonLocal Deals. City daily deal pages are filled with discount offers from major wire floral delivery services like FTD and ProFlowers, highlighting savings of about 50 percent.
When using these services, however, make sure to read the fine print of the offer before clicking "buy."
2. Local florists
To circumvent wire floral delivery service fees, contact a florist in the recipient's neighborhood instead. In addition to avoiding delivery charges, you'll get a bargain on the flowers themselves, since florists keep 100 percent of the profits instead of passing a portion off to a wire service.
When selecting a florist, ensure it has a traditional brick-and-mortar establishment. Local review sites like Yelp.com can help you find the best florist in your area.
3. Avoid boxed Valentine's Day flowers
Boxed flowers delivered by mail are not the best Valentine's Day deals in the floral market. Even though vases are often not included in these orders, they are often marked-up to the point where they cost the same as a professional floral arrangement.
In addition to increased chances of getting damaged in transit, boxed flowers simply do not have the "wow" factor that hand-delivered arrangements provide that special someone.
When buying Valentine's Day flowers, check for "delivered by florist" text to ensure the recipients get the experience they deserve.
4. Skip the florist add-ons
When shopping for flowers at an online shop or local florist, resist the temptation to buy the box of chocolates, teddy bear and balloons conveniently sitting on display by the cash register. The placement of these items is a deliberate upsell tactic.
Those who want to go the whole nine yards should opt for items at general retail stores like Walmart or Target for the best Valentine's Day deals on chocolates and stuffed animals. Not only do you stand to save $20 to $30 on these purchases, the quality will likely be better.
5. Shop at supermarkets
Buying flowers from the same aisle as the produce section might seem like a strange way to say "I love you," but doing so is a great option for those pressed for cash. Bouquets are just as fresh in a market refrigerator as in a florist shop, so try skipping the fancy florist and save money at your neighborhood grocery store.
Two years ago, I went to a local Trader Joe's with my own vase in hand. They offered 12 long-stem red roses for $6.99 and a mixed bouquet for $5.99. The weekend before Valentine's Day, the store had a fully functioning arrangement station, wherein they prepped my selected flowers in the vase I provided. For a little less than $15, I gave my mom a gorgeous floral arrangement at less than half the cost of a professional florist.
6. Steer clear of red roses
Roses -- especially red ones -- are extremely overpriced this time of the year. Steer clear of cliché floral arrangements and exacerbated prices by sending loved ones their favorite flowers instead. In keeping an open mind with the flower type, you can beef up bouquets (approximately 10 additional stems) for a grand entrance.
7. Consider Feb. 13
For serious savings on floral delivery services, have flowers delivered on Feb. 13 instead of Valentine's Day. Many florists charge higher delivery fees on Feb. 14 and some orders don't even get to their recipients in time due to overloaded delivery schedules.
Taking this route can save between $10 and $15 depending on your florist, and makes for a pleasant surprise.