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Five Valentine's Gifts for Richer, Not Poorer
Love and money are a potentially explosive combination.

Just ask any divorce lawyer.

This year, the average Romeo or Juliet plans to spend about $123 (an average of $163 by men and an average of $85 by women) on Valentine's Day, according to the National Retail Federation.

Most of this money is going to be spent on snoozer gifts such as candy, flowers and jewelry, as well as so-called experience gifts such as a Valentine's Day dinner or weekend.

Not to be unromantic, but from a purely financial perspective there are more imaginative ways to show your love and, at the same time, garner a proverbial return on your investment.

Some of the ideas below are so outlandish that you'll either charm or offend your lover.

Look at it this way: For better or worse, at least you won't come off as a total bore.

Here are suggestions for spending $123 on something for your sweetheart that says more about wealth than wooing. Size up your own romantic situation to guess whether the gift will spark a fire or douse the flame.

1. Hit the Lights

You can rarely go wrong with a gift that sparkles -- especially when it comes in a small box.

A diamond ring? Way too predictable.

This is what makes energy-efficient light bulbs the perfect gift. (Stay with me here.)

Not only will the bulbs put you in a positive light, so to speak, but they reduce the electricity bill at the same time.

Even better, you don't have to stop with a single box -- which is usually the case with jewelry. For the amount spent on the average Valentine's Day gift, you should be able to replace all the standard bulbs in your house with the energy- efficient models.

2. Object of Desire

Who wouldn't want to receive a special something from their loved one that comes from a company whose products are the must-have gadgets in the stores at the moment?

That is exactly why you should pick up stock in that company for the $123 you would have spent on a gadget to show your true love.

While that shiny toy may have elicited a rush of joy when the package was opened, we all know it would soon be outdated and replaced.

The company stock, however, will continue to grow over time, become more valuable and will never end up in the trash.

Think of it this way. On Oct. 23, 2001, Apple (AAPL) released the first iPod for the suggested retail price of $399. Had you purchased 32.44 shares of Apple stock (at $12.30 each) instead of an iPod for your significant other on Feb. 14, 2002, your Valentine would today have $3933 (as of Feb. 7) worth of Apple stock in their portfolio instead of an outdated iPod model gathering dust in a drawer.

3. Everlasting Love

What says "I love you" more than indicating that you want to spend the rest of your life with your hubby?

There is no better way to show that's exactly what you have in mind than by getting a gift you plan to use well into your retirement.

Personal finance has this perfect gift in the form of an IRA. Simply open an IRA using the $122.98, or contribute the money to one that is already open. This is a much stronger indication that you plan to stay together for a long, long time compared to any jewelry that fits around your finger.

Unromantic? Think of it as a sign to your significant other that you don't have commitment issues.

4. Travel Account

What would be more romantic than a trip to a foreign country for Valentine's Day? Granted, $123 isn't going to get you too far, but you can start the fund to take that trip of your romantic dreams.

Open a high-interest online bank account and begin saving with the money you would have spent on chocolates and flowers.

While it may take a number of Valentine's Days to save up for the dream trip, if your relationship lasts, you'll eventually get there.

Even better, you don't have to worry about what to get for at least a decade as you save up while you show your personal-finance smarts by saving for what your want and not spending money that you don't have.

5. Hot Wheels

Who wouldn't have their heart go pitter-patter on Valentine's Day when they opened the front door to see a vehicle with a big red ribbon tied around it as a gift?

Getting this special gift doesn't even have to cost you more than you would normally spend on a Valentine's Day gift, according to Mother Earth News , since some of the best deals on cars are for $100.

As they say, "Any time you can get 10,000 miles for less than $100, you know the price is right!" Best of all, your partner can brag that they received a car for Valentine's Day, while you'll have cheap transportation for the rest of the year.

Of course, receiving a Valentine's Day gift with a personal-finance twist may come with such consequences as having to spend the night on the couch for the rest of the month.

But before you consider that the above ideas are completely bonkers, realize that 12.3% of people are planning to give a gift card as a Valentine's Day gift this year -- a move that's almost certain to put you in the doghouse.

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