Pick better flowers, ditch your cell phone, and fix IRS form mistakes.
(MONEY Magazine) - TIP 1 Let love blossom This Valentine's Day, don't get gouged at the florist. Four ways to avoid looking like a bloomin' idiot:
• GET SHORTIES Short stems are often cheaper than long, and you can't count on someone having a vase large enough to hold long-stemmed flowers gracefully anyway.
• WRAP IT UP Most people already have a shelf filled with vases--why buy them another one? "Wrap flowers in newspaper," says Flower Power author Rebecca Cole. "It's inexpensive and it has that 'walking through Paris' feel."
• ACT LOCALLY When you use an online service like FTD.com, you usually pay a broker fee on top of the flower order. If you're having flowers delivered to another city, find a local florist there (hello, Google) and call directly.
• LOCK IN A PRICE Start shopping for Valentine's flowers as soon as possible. Prices rise as the day approaches, but some websites, such as KaBloom.com, let you lock in a price if you confirm your order early. --KATE ASHFORD
TIP 2 Ditch your cell-phone contract Maybe you hate your cellular provider. Perhaps you're paying for too many minutes, or too few. Too bad. You signed a contract, and emancipation will cost you at least $150 in termination fees. Unless--unless!--you can find someone to take over your contract.
• SWAP Celltradeusa.com matches cell users looking for a change. (Hey, one man's Sprint is another man's Verizon.) Unload your contract on someone--it legally becomes his, with no effect on your credit or your phone number--and then find a new deal for yourself. Take one over and you'll pick up any discount the seller had, plus any extras he wants to throw in. Maybe even his phone. --JANET PASKIN
TIP 3 Check your 1099--twice Each year, companies rush to send out some 800 million IRS 1099 forms--which report interest, dividends, royalties and freelance earnings--by Jan. 31. But rushing is the last thing you should do when looking yours over. Roughly 10% of the 1099s sent by investment companies in 2004 were inaccurate, the Securities Industry Association reports. Some financial pros estimate the total rate is usually double that. An error could mean you have to file an amended return or, worse, pay a 20% penalty.
• COMPARE AND SAVE Examine 1099s against year-end bank and brokerage statements. If you find a discrepancy, ask the company to send the IRS and you a corrected copy. The IRS compares the issuer's info with yours, and if the two don't match, your return could be questioned. --ROBERTA KIRWAN