In a year unlike any other, there are still plenty of ways to think outside of the heart-shaped box to make Valentine’s Day 2022 personally and financially rewarding. Here are my top tips:

1. Have fun at home with the kids

Looking for something to do with the whole family? You can make the day feel extra special by creating a fun-filled agenda. My family loves to be in the kitchen together — so we are planning a day of baking all things with love!

I’ve stocked up on heart-shaped cake and muffin pans, as well as cookie cutters that spell out L-O-V-E to make things fun and interactive for the kids. Baking is a great two-for-one activity when you have kids — they love to help create the treat — and then as a reward, they get to eat it, too! How sweet.

Another family favorite in our house is crafting. Since we’ll be staying home this year, we’ll share our love with family and friends by creating homemade Valentine’s Day cards. Gather craft paper of all colors, stickers, and glitter pens, and let your kids’ imaginations run wild. It’s a great way to spend time as a family while doing something everyone will enjoy.

2. Make dinner romantic and memorable

If you’re in the mood for a special occasion just for two — try tag-teaming the cooking with your significant other. You can cook each other’s favorite dish or even test a new recipe together. I remember our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple, I spent all day making dinner. It was prosciutto-wrapped, cherry-stuffed chicken breast with a side of rice and asparagus. I even went the extra mile and plated the rice in the shape of a heart.

It took all day, but the effort was appreciated by my husband Chad! It’s little touches like these that make Valentine’s Day special and memorable.

If you don’t want to spend Valentine’s Day in the kitchen, your special date night-in can be complete by ordering takeout from a favorite restaurant where you and your significant other first met, got engaged, or have another cherished memory. And don’t forget dessert! Ordering something sweet to share is romantic and a rewarding way to support a local bakery.

Whether you choose to shop for groceries or order in, you can reward your wallet with maximum cash back at the same time. I use and highly recommend the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card because you can earn 3% cashback by choosing from one of six spending categories, which you can change each month – including online shopping, dining, gas, and more, along with 2% cashback at grocery stores and wholesale clubs.

This month I’m also celebrating that I became a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member — which means I receive a credit card rewards bonus as well that pushes my cashback earnings even higher with the Cash Rewards card! It’s easy to enroll in Preferred Rewards and more info is available here.

Be sure to check out more of Blissfull Bucks to stay-up-to-date with more money and financial tips.

3. Buy a thoughtful gift — and maximize your discounts and cashback at the same time!

There are so many options for gifts; I always try to think about how to add a personal touch that will make the gift special and memorable. Here are my top tips if you’re looking for a few places to start:

  • Try going with the sentimental route by printing off your favorite pictures together and putting them in a beautiful photo album — or try utilizing an online photo tool to create a photo book of your love story.
  • When I’m a bit stumped on what to gift my loved ones, my favorite starting place is to think about hobbies and activities they love to do. So, if your S.O. is golf-obsessed, maybe get him a training package with a local pro… or if they love to cook, get them some custom oven mitts with a cutting board for a charcuterie you can enjoy together.
  • Go with jewelry! (It’s Valentine’s Day after all). Pick out a timeless piece of jewelry your loved one will adore and have it engraved with a special phrase or important date of your relationship.
  • Still, stumped? Everyone loves a gift card that aligns with their hobbies, interests, and/or favorite places to shop! It’s a more practical approach and great if you need something last minute – but it shows your S.O. that you know a few of their favorite things, and that’s what makes it thoughtful.

While browsing for gifts for your sweetheart, be sure you’re signed up for all available loyalty programs, and layering them together — department store, credit card, and banking rewards are three that I love to combine! Many department stores offer perks like early access to sales and free shipping.

When shopping online, I also use apps that scour retailer sites for discounts and coupon codes. Finally, be sure to check for special deals from your bank and pay with a rewards credit card.

For example, BankAmeriDeals offers an easy way for Bank of America debit and credit cardholders to earn cash back at stores, restaurants, and more, sometimes featuring special seasonal bonus offers. And finally, I pay with the Bank of America Cash Rewards card and get that credit card rewards bonus as a Preferred Rewards member!

4. Now is the perfect time to plan for future travel

Although many of us are staying at home this Valentine’s Day, it’s the perfect time to start dreaming up your next romantic getaway or family vacation. My family cannot wait to travel somewhere tropical again! We miss our favorite beaches in Jamaica, Aruba, and Mexico.

Before you book, plan ahead as much as possible — do research on cancellation policies, refunds, trip insurance, and banking perks that may come in handy.

While we stay safe at home, we’ve been doing that research and creating itineraries for upcoming trips. You can search for top-rated hotels and fine restaurants you’d like to try, and research activities for the whole family. By doing this, we are prepared to book a getaway whenever it’s safe to travel again.

Another way to plan ahead for future travel is by enrolling now in all of the travel rewards programs that can help you earn points, cash back and special offers to use on your trip — such as airline, gas station, hotel, credit cards, and banking rewards programs.

Maximize the cashback you earn when you book your travel and make other travel-related purchases using a card like the Cash Rewards card — just be sure you choose “travel” as the 3% choice category for the month when you make those purchases. You’ll earn even more cashback if you’re a Preferred Rewards member like me! All of the bonus cashback that you earn for your bookings can be redeemed to spend while you’re on your trip.

And finally — once the trip is booked, part of my contingency planning is to have cash on hand in case of emergencies. As a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, I receive a discount on the foreign currency exchange rate plus free standard shipping — which will be great once it’s safe to head back to our favorite tropical paradises!

Although we might not be able to spread the love in all the usual ways this year, there are still many possibilities for celebrating Valentine’s Day– all while being financially savvy. I hope you test out some of my sweet tips and have the loveliest Valentine’s Day! And for more information about Bank of America Preferred Rewards, visit their website.

This is a sponsored post by Bank of America as part of Wise Bread’s continued partnership with them. My opinions are my own.

By Gabrielle Flowers Rader
Lifestyle Expert, mom of two, and Bank of America spokesperson

This article originally posted on WiseBread here.