"You just can’t beat the person who never gives up." -Babe Ruth

What is it with the Giants and acrobatic catches? Five years ago, it was David Tyree … and this year, Mario Manningham comes through with the game-changing catch on the Giants final drive. Enough has been said about the game — but even though I’m not a Giants fan, what I loved about their victory is how even though they had a sub-par regular season, they simply didn’t give up.

There’s plenty inspiration in there for all of us, methinks. It’s not over until, well, it’s really over.

Well, as I mentioned last week, I’ve put together a primer on automating and leveraging tools in order to get out of debt, but once again — events are getting ahead of me. Because Valentine’s Day is hurtling towards us, and I thought I’d give you a little "nudge".

But, since I am a tax professional, after all — I’m going to give you some romance tips "on a budget"! Wives can scoff at this list, and be gratified when their husbands successfully surpass it. And husbands, well I know some are skilled at romance; and others … well, here’s some help!

Even better, for some of our clients who are doing just fine, thank you, this is actually a great list for you too … after all, the best gestures are from the heart, not necessarily the wallet.

Dave Roberts’s
"Real World" Personal Strategy

Love Without Spending

A Penny-Pinching Tax Professional’s Guide To Creating Romance
Look– whatever your particular financial situation, wouldn’t it be great to create romance "magic" without spending an arm and two legs? So, instead of the tired old "flowers, candy and chocolate" [boring!], here’s a few modest and occasionally tongue-in-cheek suggestions for a sizzling Valentines … that won’t torch your wallet!

Make a Video.
You can use the video setting on your phone or digital camera, and create a heartfelt message of love for your sweetie. Then, post it to YouTube, Vimeo or another online video-sharing site and send it on! Um, just be sure to make that video setting to "private" unless you want to share with the world your dying love for your honey (hopefully with clothes on!).

Learn a Romantic Song and Sing it to Your Sweetheart.
Well, I’m no singer, so I can’t say I’ve tried this … but I hear it works well. Even better, if you can’t sing, your valentine will give you kudos for the effort! You could step it up by writing an original song and then sing it. Or, for the slightly-less courageous, you could pull a page out of John Cusack’s book in Say Anything and hold a boombox (or iPod) above your head and blare Peter Gabriel’s "In Your Eyes". That seemed to work.

Not a singer? More of a writer? Or artist? For the otherwise artistically inclined:

– You could pen a poem on nice paper
– or even paint it
– You can paint a picture of your honey. Just be sure it looks good.

The "Mix Tape" (or Playlist)
This is an old standby of high school kids everywhere. Except these days, the "tape" part is a bit less convenient. Instead, make a CD or mp3 playlist of Sweet Love Songs and make a cover list/ liner notes on the memories of you and your honey from the songs. And you can make a Personalized Photo Album using Shutterfly or a service like it.

Romantic Picnic
Surprise your love with a ‘picnic’ in the park, at the beach, or any other outdoor nature spot. If the weather isn’t ideal for outdoors, you could bring the outdoors inside — find a fake palm tree, flowers, sand, beach umbrella, radio, towels (borrow them). Nothing says "I love you" like fake palm trees!

Write a Message To Be "Stumbled Upon"
Well, perhaps not *literally* stumbled upon, but try a nice outdoor surprise. If you do have snow outside, you could stomp out the message and fill in the letters with spray paint or flower pedals or rocks.  If there’s no snow, you can use sidewalk chalk to write a message to your sweetie.

You see, anybody can go out and "buy something" – but it takes effort and thoughtfulness to make it personal … and it doesn’t require a lot of money! And as someone whose JOB it is to save money, that’s what I like.