What a difference a year can make. Last year, Valentine’s Day spending hit an all-time high, with people spending nearly $200 to spread the love. But just a few weeks later the pandemic hit the U.S. and changed everything, from household income to our perspectives about money. So, it’s not surprising that this year has seen a record drop in spending—down $32 on average per person this year.
How couples are cutting back
Nearly half of that decrease comes from reduced spending on significant others. Consumers say they will spend $13 less on their sweetheart this year. Another big drop this year is understandable—41 percent of couples plan to celebrate at home instead of going out.
Most partners are on board with saving
While decreased spending is due at least in part to a desire to socially distance and avoid crowded restaurants, another reason is that couples are simply being more frugal. A LendingTree survey found that 40 percent of Americans plan to skip Valentine’s Day entirely to save money.
What’s more, the survey found that most people wouldn’t be upset if their partner suggested scaling back or skipping expensive gifts entirely. Only 18% of women and 9% said they would be upset.
That’s a statistic that Consolidated Credit’s financial education director thinks more people should pay attention to.
“Too often, we feel obligated to do grand gestures and gifts to show our love to our spouse or partner,” says April Lewis-Parks. “You may be scared to brooch the subject with your significant other. But this survey shows that they might be more receptive to the idea than you think.”
Lewis-Parks encourages couples to talk about their plans.
- See how both of you are feeling about your finances.
- If one or both of you has financial concerns, talk about setting limits on gifts.
- For spouses or couples that are cohabitating, consider pooling money to get something that you need for the house instead,
If you are planning to spend, avoid credit card debt
While couples are planning on cutting back this year, those cuts don’t necessarily mean that couples will avoid taking on credit card debt. The LendingTree survey found that 38% of consumers with a significant other may take on credit card debt to cover at least part of their Valentine’s Day spending. Even worse, 30% say they won’t tell their spouse.
“With the economy still unstable and a slow pandemic recovery, it’s important to avoid credit card debt whenever possible,” Lewis-Parks says. “If you can’t get a gift for your significant other without taking on credit card debt, be honest. Share your financial situation and discuss the idea of scaling back. As the stats above reveal, your partner may be more receptive than you think.”
She also says hiding your financial situation from your partner is more damaging than you might think.
“People consider financial infidelity as bad as physically cheating,” she explains. “If your spouse finds out that you’re not being transparent about your finances, particularly when it comes to debt and hiding spending, your relationship may be short-lived.”
In fact, a survey by the American Institute of CPAs found that 41% of cohabitating people say they might consider ending the relationship over financial infidelity. A separate WalletHub survey found that 47% of people would break up with a financially irresponsible partner. That survey also found that 44% of people find irresponsible spending more odious than bad breath.
“While you might think that your partner would appreciate the quiet sacrifice that you’re making to get them a gift on credit and then hide the debt, what you’re really doing is hurting your relationship.”
Come up with a practical Valentine’s Day spending plan
Even if you plan on limiting gift expenses or eating in this year, it’s important to plan how much you will spend. Use this free Valentine’s Day spending planner to set a realistic budget. If you’re married or cohabitating, share the love and set the budget together.