...Ahem. Not to sound jaded or anything.
Jaded or not, we did go out, and we did spend some money in the process. Here's a fiscal breakdown of the evening and whether it was, in the end, really worth it:
Babysitting, three hours: $36. Our babysitter is a wonderful person, although we don't see her all that often now that we're going out less. Our son loves her, and she knows what she's doing. She's not the type of person to call us in the middle of dinner just because he's been crying for two minutes or doesn't want to go to bed. Plus, she knows CPR. She gives us peace of mind. Verdict? Worth it.
Dinner: $30. This included a 20% tip. We made use of a $10 off coupon. Our meal consisted of bread, salad, pasta, and soda. The food was good, and so was the service. Verdict? Worth it.
Coffee and dessert: $8. We had a coupon for a free coffee at Panera, so we stopped by after dinner. Earlier in the day, we'd purchased two cupcakes from our favorite local bakery; we enjoyed those with wine when we returned home. The coffee and conversation were worth it. The cupcakes were good, but at almost $3 a piece, they were also expensive. Verdict? Kind of worth it.
Wine: $18. Having lived in coastal California for a year, we've developed an appreciation for a good bottle of wine. Usually, though, we shell out just $5 for basic Pepperwood, Penfold's, or Crane Lake. This time, we splurged on pinot noir. We opened it, let it air for a few minutes, and eagerly took the first sip. Silence from both parties. Then, "...This is okay. But definitely not great." "Yup. Unfortunately, I completely agree." No complexity or subtlety in that bottle. Verdict: So not worth it.
Total cost of Valentine's Day date: $92. Chance to spend time together, sans child: Priceless. I'm joking a little, but we hadn't had an opportunity to go out alone in six weeks. We value the now-rare hours we don't have to share with anyone else. Next year, though, we'll keep the date, buy a much cheaper bottle of wine, and bake our own dessert. It'll be just as fun and just as romantic, but perhaps a little more frugal.