Romantics celebrate 14 February as Valentine’s Day. So do retailers.

According to market research conducted by finder.com, across Australia a little over $500 million is spent celebrating each Valentine’s Day. Flowers, chocolates, dinner at a usually out-of-reach restaurant, that sort of thing.

Somewhat worryingly, newlyweds are the worst culprits. Couples married within the last five years spend an average of $315 – each – on Valentine’s Day. That is $630 per couple.

Now, we don’t want to sound like financial curmudgeons. But, seriously, is spending $630 saying ‘I love you’ the best thing for a newlywed couple to do? Probably not.

This is especially so when you consider the high cost of getting married in the first place. According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission – and no, we don’t know why they would be doing this research either – the average Australian wedding costs more than $36,000. The party costs almost $21,000, the clothes cost almost $5000 while the photos cost $4000. Strangely, although perhaps not surprisingly, the ceremony itself costs less than $1000.

Put these two bits of data together, and what do you see? Having just spent $35,000 making sure they look good and have a rocking party (remember, the actual ceremony costs less than $1000), newlyweds drop another $600 professing their love for each other every February.

There has to be a better way. And here it is. Call it relationships 101. But here we go.

The first thing to do is to think in pretax dollars. There is no tax deduction for a wedding expense or a Valentine’s Day pressie. So, a wedding cost of $36,000 requires somebody on an average income to earn more than $50,000 – or about nine months’ work. The pre-tax cost of Valentine’s Day becomes almost $1000.

Keep these figures in mind when you’re asking yourself what your love is worth.

The second thing to do is don’t tell the party venue, the photographer, the clothier or your hairdresser that you’re getting married. Just tell them that it’s a family event and drop hints that Uncle Clarrie is about to get a letter from the Queen. This should pretty much halve your expenses, as well as explain why half of the party guests have the same surname. (We are only half joking here. Mention you are getting married and watch the costs soar).

That takes care of the wedding. For Valentine’s Day, buy yourself a piece of thick cardboard paper. It will cost about two dollars. Fold it in half to make a card. On the outside of the card write ‘Valentine’s Day 2019.’ Drawing a love heart is an optional extra. On the inside of the card, copy out the following:

Dear Darling [feel free to insert your loved one’s real name]

Roses are red, violets are blue

there’s nothing I want more than to own a home with you.

So I’ve made spaghetti bol for tonight’s celebration,

and salary sacrificed the rest into superannuation.

He or she will love you for it.