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How to Save on Flowers for Valentine's Day

Kiplinger.com

While buying your sweetie a fancy floral arrangement may melt his or her heart on Valentine's Day, it can also burn a hole in your gift-giving budget. A dozen red roses may cost $100 or more -- especially for you procrastinators.

I talked with several consumer and industry experts, who offered tips on how gift-givers can save money (and stress) when buying flowers for Valentine's Day. Let me show you how to save $10, $20, even $50 on beautiful flowers in the days ahead.

SEE ALSO: Money Habits You Don't Want Your Valentine to Have

Order From Your Local Florist

Sure, ordering flowers online at broker sites such as 1800Flowers.com or FTD.com is convenient. You don't have to leave your house to buy them or worry about muttering mushy sentiments over the phone for the florist to scribble on the delivery card.

However, you'll get the best value -- more flowers for your money -- by buying directly from a local florist. That's because most online flower sites are middlemen who take a cut of the purchase price.

And by speaking directly with the person who will create the Valentine's Day bouquet of your sweetheart's dreams, you'll get to see exactly how many flowers will go into it and adjust the design based on your tastes and budget. Also, your neighborhood florist may offer special discounts for those in the military or senior citizens that aren't available via flower websites, says Courtney Jespersen, a consumer savings expert for NerdWallet.com.

Find local florists via the Society of American Florists' National Florists Directory. If your local florist has a social media page on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, follow it for special promotions or discounts.

Steer Clear of Roses

Red roses are a Valentine's Day staple, but they're pricey. The average cost for a dozen roses is about $75, but it can vary based on location, says Farbod Shoraka, co-founder and CEO of BloomNation.com, an online marketplace that connects consumers with local florists.

You can still say "I love you" with a less popular (but equally beautiful) bloom on February 14. Tulips and even orchids are more affordable, says Stacie Banks, owner of Lee's Flower and Card shop, in Washington, D.C. Roses usually last up to one week in water, and tulips should last about five days, but orchid plants can last as long as six months, Banks says. For Valentine's Day, one dozen long-stemmed red roses in a vase will cost you $95 at her shop, while a tulip bouquet including 10 stems and a vase is just $50. A standard orchid arrangement will run you $85.

SEE ALSO: How to Have a Happy Valentine's Day for Less

Opt for Early Delivery

Many people receive flowers at work on Valentine's Day -- and secretly enjoy getting those "ohhhs and ahhhs" from coworkers when they arrive. You can save $10 or more by having them delivered a day or two before February 14.

"Many florists will provide an incentive to encourage people to order and deliver early, such as a price discount, free or discounted delivery, or an add-on gift," such as chocolates or a balloon, says Jennifer Sparks, vice president of marketing for the Society of American Florists. Even florist broker sites offer early-bird deals. For example, Valentine's Day shoppers can save $10 on their orders at FTD.com by opting for early delivery by February 13.

Considering delivery after Valentine's Day, when prices may drop as much as 25%? We don't recommend it. Nothing says "I forgot about you" quite like receiving a dozen roses, a heart-shaped balloon and a box of chocolates on February 15, warns Jeanette Pavini, a consumer savings expert at Coupons.com.

Don't Wait Until the Last Minute to Order

It's never too early to place your Valentine's Day flower order. Securing it a couple weeks in advance provides peace of mind, says Nic Faitos, a senior partner with Starbright Floral Design, a New York-based florist.

Remember, florists usually get slammed with last-minute orders in the days leading up to February 14. To ensure all orders are completed and delivered on time, a shop owner might have to pay overtime to staff or hire temporary staff such as messengers to help make deliveries, Faitos says. Procrastinators will see this reflected in the final price of their order. At Faitos's shop, for example, a dozen long-stemmed red roses costs $100 year-round, but that price will likely increase to about $125 the week of Valentine's Day, he says.

Planning to order online? Expect to shell out even more cash for expedited shipping.

SEE ALSO: What Your Credit Score Says About Your Love Life

Shop Valentine's Day Offers on Daily Deal Sites

Daily deal sites, such as LivingSocial and Groupon, might be a money-saving option that gift-givers on a tight budget should consider. For example, LivingSocial's 2018 Valentine's Day Deal Guide has a $15 voucher that's good toward $30 worth of flowers through the website ProFlowers.com, which delivers fresh flowers straight from growers. A quick review of the flower selection available with this deal included one dozen rainbow-colored roses for $24, 15 Dutch tulips for $30 and five roselily stems with multiple blooms for $30. Vases aren't included, but they are available for an additional cost. Groupon's Valentine's Day offerings include a 25% off code for 1800Flowers.com, as well as a 20% discount on roses through FTD.com.

Beware the fine print on deal-site flower offers, warns Pavini. "You want to be sure that the flowers are guaranteed to be delivered fresh," she says, and "delivery fees usually aren't included and can cost as much as $30."

Check Out the Flower Section at Your Local Grocery Store

Don't dismiss the flower department at your local grocer. "You skip paying shipping and delivery fees, which can add up -- and you get to see the flowers in person," says smart shopping expert Trae Bodge, of TrueTrae.com. Last year, supermarkets and grocery stores were the most common venues for Valentine's Day flower purchases, according to a survey conducted by the Society of American Florists.

Keep in mind that the flower options will likely be limited, so it's best to get there early -- or you'll be left to choose from picked-over offerings. And grocery-store flowers don't receive the same care as they would at a florist, Banks asserts, so they may not last as long.

For shoppers on a budget who plan to piece together a DIY arrangement using grocery store flowers, you can find inexpensive vase options at your local dollar store in the glassware section.

SEE ALSO: How Money Is Used as a Weapon in Relationships

Copyright 2018 The Kiplinger Washington Editors

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