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OK, maybe you can’t do Valentine’s Day on a dime, but here are some budget-friendly ideas for making your Valentine’s Day special: 

Go out for breakfast or lunch instead of dinner. 

Dress up and go to a fancy restaurant just for dessert and coffee. 

Be a local tourist: (a)Do some hand-holding and birdwatching along the three-mile National Recreation Trail on Dauphin Island. (b) Drive over to Fairhope and enjoy a stroll around town and out on the city pier.

3-Ingredient Chocolate Cherry Cake

You’ll impress your sweetheart and your whole family with this super simple recipe. All you’ll need is a box of chocolate cake mix; a can of cherry pie filling; and ¾ cup of melted margarine (1 ½ sticks). Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the pie filling evenly over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the dry cake mix evenly over the top of the pie filling. Drizzle the melted margarine evenly over the cake mix. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the edges are bubbly. Serve hot as is, or topped with vanilla or fudge marble ice cream drizzled with chocolate syrup.

Replace those old floors 

Instead of spending for real wood floors or throwing away money on laminate flooring that will easily warp if it ever gets wet, look into luxury vinyl flooring. Many of these thick, heavy-duty tiles are peel-‘n’-stick and look exactly like ceramic tile or even wood flooring, but are easy to cut and install yourself and can even be grouted. After several tiles in my laundry room cracked, I decided to give the luxury vinyl a try. It was so easy, I took up the old tile and installed the vinyl in only one day, albeit a very long day. It looked so good I went on to replace all my bathroom tile with vinyl. I’ve gotten so many compliments on my new flooring and I never have to worry about another cracked tile.

Closing thoughts 

My Daddy used to tell me I needed my “wanter” turned off. I think a lot of us would do well to heed Daddy’s advice. The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk addressed this issue: “Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own” (Habakkuk 2:6b, ESV). The NIV goes on to say: “Will not your debtors suddenly arise? Will they not wake up and make you tremble? Then you will become their victim” (Habakkuk 2:7). Strong words, but if you’re being haunted by overdue debts, you can certainly relate to feeling like a victim.

Put needs before wants. Pay your debts before fulfilling wants. Refuse to be foolishly indebted.

— Judy Woodward Bates
Want Judy to speak to your church, civic organization, or ladies’ group? You can contact her and follow her on her website,, as well as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


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