Monday, February 13, 2012

3 Frugal Lessons to Learn from St. Valentine

Pictured: love.
Well, another Valentine's Day is here, which means that, come tomorrow, there will be mounds of chocolate in heart-shaped boxes on sale at your local Safeway.  Such is love.

As I was thinking about what to write today, I thought I'd take a look at the alleged source* of this holiday in order to see if we could learn anything from him.  Turns out, there is!  Huzzah!  Unfortunately, these lessons aren't exactly happy ones.  You'll see what I mean.

1)  It Doesn't Pay to Help the Downtrodden - St. Valentine was a priest who was marrying Christian couples in Rome.  Unfortunately, Claudius II (emperor of Rome and all-around crank) had decreed that it was a crime to aid or abet members of this new, fringe religious group.  This put our friend, St. Valentine, into figurative hot water.

How This Applies to You - Do you remember that time your down-on-his-luck friend needed $100 because he needed to pay rent?  Do you also remember how he emphatically promised to pay you back "as soon as he could?"  Do you remember how you still, six and a half years later, have a $100 shaped emptiness in your wallet?  Yeah, you're sort of like Valentine doing a good deed and getting bupkiss for it.

2)  It Doesn't Pay to Assert your Message if the Other Person Doesn't Want to Hear It - St. Valentine was thrown into prison for his crimes.  Somehow, he made friends with Claudius II (because, according to this and the movie Gladiator, emperors of Rome frequently hung around prisons).  Unfortunately for St. Valentine, he just couldn't shake his whole "I'm a Christian and so should you!" mentality, and he kept trying to convert old Claudius.  Claudius unceremoniously sentenced Valentine to death.

How This Applies to You - You know how you keep telling your boyfriend that he should under no circumstances spend his extra money on things that he wants until he pays off his debts/builds up his emergency fund?  You know how he keeps telling you to talk about something else?  You know how you keep it up?  DO YOU SEE HIM WALKING OUT YOUR FRONT DOOR RIGHT NOW, NEVER TO DARKEN IT WITH HIS SHADOW AGAIN?  Yeah, it's kind of like that.

3)  It Doesn't Pay to Lose Your Head - It turns out that St. Valentine was kind of a tough guy.  According to tradition, the king's men (no word on what the king's horses were doing) attempted to both club him to death and to stone him to death, but Valentine was not to be killed so easily.  After Valentine ostensibly snarled, "Is that all you got, you %^@#$?", the emperor's men beheaded him.  In memory of this, we give each other chocolate (likely because of the unpleasant legal and moral ramifications of exchanging disembodied heads once a year).
"I cut it just for you! Happy Valentine's!"
How This Applies to You - Did you know that "losing your head" is also a euphemism for going temporarily crazy?  Here's the thing: there are a lot of crazy people who do a lot of crazy things to get themselves out of debt.  In some cases, this has worked for them, and I salute them for it.  However, just because these people have gone crazy doesn't mean that you need to spend a year only spending money on toilet paper and ramen (toilet paper for eating, ramen for bathroom stuff).  If you think it will work for you, terrific.  Just remember, once you lose your head, it's difficult to get it back; once you cross the frugality line into buying expired cheese and using wash cloths to wipe your behind, people are going to look at you like you're crazy.  And you will deserve their scorn.

Happy Valentine's Day, everybody!

Photo 1 by moonlightbulb.
Photo 2 by whatmegsaid.
*Wikipedia can't make up its danged mind about the origin of the holiday, so I'm going with the story of St. Valentine as recorded in the Nuremburg Chronicle of 1493.  You're welcome.


Kylie Ofiu said...

What an intriguing look at the whole Valentine's Day thing. I love how you applied different aspects to 3 different financial issues. I am sure many of us can relate to the friend who needs $100. My husband was a sucker for helping other like that, which didn't bother me if we were in a position to do so or if I knew we would get repaid.

I had to put my foot down though, because repeatedly doing it to the same people doesn't help you or them.

Bryan said...

Thanks for stopping by, Kylie! I'm glad you liked it. I've also been guilty of lending/giving money without regard for getting it back, and it gets old after a while.