By Rita R. Robison
Does Valentine’s Day mean buying a gift for your partner or taking him or her out to dinner? How about flowers and candy?
The average person celebrating the holiday will spend about $126 on Valentines Day, up 8.5 percent over last year’s $116, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. That’s the highest in the survey’s 10-year history. Total spending is expected to reach $17.6 billion.
Consumers will spend the most on their partners, with the average person planning to spend $74 on their spouse or significant other, up from $69 last year. In addition, consumers will spend an average of $25 on their children, parents, or other family members and $7 on friends. For pets, the average consumer will spend about $5 on their pets.
The survey also found the average male is expected to spend $169 on clothing, jewelry, greeting cards, and other items this year. That’s nearly twice as much as women who are expected to spend an average of $86.
What do consumers plan to buy?
More than eight in 10 will buy jewelry, up from 17.3 percent last year and the highest percent in the survey’s history. Other Valentine’s Day items: 13 percent will buy gift cards, up from 13 percent last year. In addition, half of all celebrants will buy candy, 36 percent flowers, and 36 percent an evening out.
Total Valentine’s Day spending is expected to reach more than $17.6 billion.
What should you do about Valentine’s Day if you’re having financial problems?
Consumers who are having financial distress or on the cusp shouldn’t feel compelled to spend. It could put their economic well-being at further risk.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling suggests that consumers consider the what love isn’t as they shop for their Valentine:
- Love isn’t spending more than you can afford on a gift. Regardless of the motive, being overly generously when money is tight is really no gift at all, to the recipient or the giver.
- Love isn’t being a pretender. Honesty, including financial honesty, is key to any relationship. Don't pretend that you have money you don't by playing the big-spender role.
- Love isn’t making financial decisions with the heart. Even though emotional spending can give a temporary high, it can also lead to guilt and buyer's remorse.
- Love isn’t avoiding the financial realities. Burying your head in the financial sand and living as if there were no money problems only digs the financial hole deeper.
- Love isn’t giving a gift that will soon be forgotten. Most people can’t remember what they received last Valentine's Day. Making a purchase simply to have a gift in hand will be equally forgettable and a waste of money.
"Spending irresponsibly is no way to say 'I love you,'” Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the foundation, said in a statement. “However, showing that you are financially reliable is a tangible expression of that sentiment. It's a gift that's meaningful, always in style, won't wilt or add pounds.”
If you need help finding extra money in your budget, consider contacting a credit counseling agency. To locate an agency near you, call 800-388-2227 or visit www.DebtAdvice.org