An Unconventional Valentine’s Gift

So I’m standing in line at the flower shop waiting to pre-order my roses for Valentine’s Day “Not a whole lot of thought was put into this one” was one thought that crossed my mind while another was “I can’t believe how much the price of roses has gone up again!”. This suddenly reaffirmed for me that I’m really more of a cheap skate than a romantic. I couldn’t help it!

Many theories on the origins of Valentine’s Day exist. One of my favorites being Saint Valentine of Rome, who performed secret Christian weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry by the Roman Emperor Claudius II. The Emperor believed that married men did not make for good soldiers. Romantic certainly, however, this proved to be a myth as Claudius II actually instructed his soldiers to take two or three women for themselves following his victory over the Goths.

Today, the commercial value of Valentine’s Day is astronomical. In the billions!  Roses and dinner are a great start but here’s a list of unconventional ideas to express your love!

  1. Go to the bank and open up a specific “Trip savings account”. Set-up a systematic contribution from your payroll to fund the trip. This would be a heartfelt expression of your desire to spend quality time together.
  2. Meet with your lawyer to do those wills you’ve both been wanting to do. Peace of mind comes from creating a will, and that’s a great gift in and of itself.
  3. Book a meeting with your financial planner to draft a financial road-map for your together retirement. Picturing your life after work together can be as romantic as achieving it.
  4. Purchase a life insurance policy for a spouse, child or grand-child. The cost can be minimal and yet it can make a very meaningful difference in a loved one’s life.
  5. Write a letter to be opened after you’re gone. I’ve never lost a partner, but one of my past clients wrote notes for each family member and a few key advisory people in his circle. When he passed, it warmed my heart to read the note he wrote for me and I’m sure it would do the same for your family.
  6. Meet with a funeral pre-needs expert to plan your funerals. On the surface this one isn’t the most romantic idea, but many interviews with surviving spouse indicate that having all the details of a loved one’s funeral pre-planned made the emotional experience a little easier to get through. Also, purchasing a family burial plot would ensure a final resting place together.

In this day and age where everything can be “Amazon’d” , the gifts of time & thoughtfulness still can’t be bought online or otherwise and will certainly last longer than those roses. If the saying: “It’s the thought that counts” still holds true, try something different this year.

Come to think of it, I’d still get the roses just in case.



Stephan Desbiens, Partner & Associate Portfolio Manager at Exponent Investment Management Inc. in Ottawa.