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Good intentions should be acknowledged, but if you spend too much money on Valentine’s Day, your partner may be a bit peeved. According to a new survey by CompareCards, 31% of respondents reported they would be “turned off” by their partner overspending on Valentine’s Day.
Over 1,000 Americans were surveyed about their feelings regarding Valentine’s Day spending. The results revealed that overspending is not necessarily the best way to win over your significant other’s heart.
With one in 10 Americans going into debt due to Valentine’s Day purchases, maybe reining things in a bit would make a bigger impression on your loved one than you might expect. Keep reading to learn more about how to make the apple of your eye, and your wallet, happier this Valentine’s Day.
- 31% of Americans would be “turned off” if their partner spent too much on Valentine’s Day. On average, respondents said anything over $201 is too much to spend on Valentine’s Day, though men ($271.90) and Gen Xers ($375.80) cited much higher spending thresholds.
- 1 in 10 Americans have gone into debt because of Valentine’s Day spending, and more than 1 in 5 consumers (22%) believe Valentine’s Day debt is worth it if it makes their partner happy.
- The average American expects to spend $142 on their significant other this Valentine’s Day. In return, they think their partner will spend less ($119.20).
- Men ($248.90) and Gen Xers ($293.10) will spend the most.
- More than 1 in 4 Americans have gone into debt while pursuing a romantic relationship. Men (30%) are more likely to have dating debt than women (23%).
- Millennials have more dating debt than all other generations, with nearly 1 in 3 (32%) admitting to going into debt for a relationship.
- 23% of millennials have broken off a relationship because of debt. Across all generations, 17% have done so.
- Nearly half of Americans think a relationship will fail if both people have very different views on debt.
- 73% of partnered Americans say they’re on the same page with their significant other when it comes to debt. However, 18% said they have different views, and 10% aren’t sure what their beau thinks about debt.
Valentine’s Day spending: How much is too much?
If you want to cover your bases and make sure Feb. 14 goes smoothly, you should probably have an honest conversation about Valentine’s Day expectations with your sweetheart, including how much you should be spending.
On average, survey respondents felt that $201.20 was the maximum amount their partner should spend on them for Valentine’s Day. However, this is just a baseline, and you and your partner may feel differently.
Generation and gender factors appear to affect budgets. Gen Xers go big or go home, with an average ideal spending limit of $375.80. Millennials, on the other hand, think that $196 is the maximum their partner should spend. Baby boomers keep things even more frugal, reporting that $73.60 is where spending should stop.
Alongside Gen Xers, anyone with a male partner might want to encourage budgeting for this holiday now as male respondents expect a spending maximum of $271.90. Women on the other hand only expect to spend just $145.20.
Past financial mistakes may explain why overspending on this holiday can rub romantic partners the wrong way, especially when you consider the fact that 10% of people have gone into debt for Valentine’s Day. Seventeen percent of respondents noted that they had ended a relationship in the past because of debt, which may make them eager to avoid holiday-related overspending.
Nevertheless, some romantics may not consider debt a deterrent from creating a magical experience for their significant other as a whopping 22% believe that taking on debt is worth it to make their partner happy.
Who spends the most on Valentine’s Day
The maximum amount people think their partner should spend on them is more than what they will actually spend themselves for that loved one.
On average, the maximum amount respondents felt their partners should spend was $201.20, but the amount they predicted they will spend in return averages out to only $119.20.
Male respondents seem to have higher expectations of how much their partner will spend on them. Men predicted their partners would spend $189, whereas women were estimating a sum of $64. Gen Xers also kept up their pricey predictions for Valentine’s Day. Their guessed spending amount was higher than any other generation at $223.70.
When it comes to actually paying for elaborate dates and gifts, some Americans are turning to credit cards to fund their romantic aspirations.
This doesn’t mean they aren’t being financially savvy as 28% reported taking advantage of credit card rewards to help offset the costs of Valentine’s Day spending. Men reported doing this more so than women, with 33% of men and 23% of women saying they’ve used credit card rewards to help fund their passionate giving.
Gen Zers in particular take advantage of these rewards. Over 40% of Gen Zers reported using rewards to help offset the $82.10 they’re planning on spending on their partners this February.
More than 1 in 4 have dating debt
True love is priceless, but it can also be expensive. Twenty-six percent of Americans admitted to going into debt while pursuing a relationship and 10% have gone into debt just for Valentine’s Day related spending.
Millennials (32.1%) in particular have been most guilty of going into debt while pursuing a relationship, but landed in third place when it came to having a history of going into debt for Valentine’s Day.
Gen Z took the lead with 15.3% admitting they’ve gone into debt because of Valentine’s Day, followed by Gen Xers at 12.8%.
The most common causes of going into debt was reportedly due to spending on restaurants (52%), gifts (48%) and entertainment (43%).
Debt as a dating deal breaker
Going into debt to pursue a relationship or to make a holiday special may seem romantic at first, but the effects of debt on a relationship can be long-lasting.
Seventeen percent of Americans have broken off a relationship because of debt, with millennials being the generation most likely to have called it quits because of debt.
There isn’t a singular reason for why debt leads to millennials ending their relationship, but 10% said it was because they had too much debt, 8% because their partner had too much debt, and 5% because both partners had too much debt.
All generations reported similar reasons for ending a relationship due to debt, but another contributing factor could be a fear of disagreement.
Forty-seven percent reported feeling that if two people in a romantic relationship have differing views on debt, then the relationship is doomed to fail. Luckily, only 18% of those surveyed reported having different views on debt than their romantic partners.
Express your love without breaking the bank
If you want to pull out all the stops for your sweetheart without emptying your wallet, then consider these budget-friendly alternatives to Valentine’s Day spending.
Rewards cards. If you have the money in the bank to fund your Valentine’s Day plans and gifts, then you may want to utilize a rewards credit card to make a purchase. Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at CompareCards, says that opening a new credit card to fund those purchases may feel wrong, but there can actually be some benefits if done responsibly.
“It’s funny, it always seems counter intuitive to recommend that people get a new credit card to help them take on debt, but a lot of times it really does help and one of those cases that can be is making a big purchase,” Schulz said.
He explained that if you’ve saved up for a large purchase like a gift, and you know you have enough cash to pay off the credit card charge, then it can be a smart move to charge that purchase to a new credit card. This could allow you to take advantage of rewards credit card introductory offers. For example, credit card companies offer incentives for spending on a new credit card. If you spend a certain amount in a set period of time, you get a sign-up bonus in return.
“That extra $100 or $150 can make a really big difference, so it may seem strange to get a new credit card to help you control your spending, but if you use it wisely and plan enough in advance, it can help,” Schulz noted. Just be sure to have a quick payoff plan.
0% APR credit card offers. If you need to finance an expensive purchase over six to 12 months, opening a credit card with a promotional 0% APR period can be a smart move. That way, you avoid paying interest as long you pay off the balance before the introductory 0% APR period expires.
Make your own traditions. Spending money on Valentine’s Day or romantic dates is not a requirement. Society has spun so many stories about the importance of long-stemmed roses and candlelit dinners that it seems like you have to stick to these traditions, but you don’t. A heartfelt gesture will mean so much more than jewelry or expensive dinner reservations.
Schulz decided years ago to skip out on overpriced and overcrowded restaurants on Feb. 14.
“There are so many things that you can do on holidays that really don’t cost all that much money that can make a really big impression. My son is kind of a foodie and likes to cook, so we’ve started over the last five years or so making dinner for my wife on Valentine’s Day, turning it into a family thing,” he said.
If you already acquired debt from dating, there are solutions worth considering to get out of debt.
Apply for a no-fee balance transfer card. While opening a new credit card when you’re in debt may seem like a no-no, doing so in the right way can help you pay down faster.
If you use a balance transfer card with an introductory period of 0% APR, you can transfer your high-interest card debt to the balance transfer card. Doing so will allow you to focus on knocking down your principal much faster without interest adding to your balance.
You’ll have to start paying interest once the introductory period ends, so your goal should be to pay as much of your balance off as you can before that period ends. Schulz recommends this strategy, under the condition that you use the card wisely and understand all the nuances that go with the card.
Create a budget. Start treating your debt like any other expense and budget for it. You should begin by trimming your existing budget for unnecessary expenses like entertainment and travel. Then, you should add in debt payments and focus on treating it like a bill you have to pay monthly, like rent or electricity.
Get real with your partner. This step is likely one you’ve been avoiding. If you haven’t told your partner about your debt, you should do so. While Schulz supports all of these strategies, he feels most strongly about having honest conversations about money and debt with your partner.
“The most important thing is getting real with your partner and talking about where you stand, because if you and your partner aren’t on the same wavelength about financial stuff, it can make things really tough on that relationship in the long term. It may be kind of awkward, it may not be the most fun conversation you’ll ever have, but it will be a really useful exercise and may end up working out a little more easily than you think” he said.
The bottom line
Feb. 14 will come and go, but the negative effects of overspending will stick around much longer. Fancy gifts and overpriced restaurants aren’t the only way you can show that certain someone special you care. Consider being honest with your beloved about your financial limitations and find a way to celebrate this romantic day in a way that works best for you, your date and your bank account.
CompareCards commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,001 Americans, with the sample base proportioned to represent the overall population. The survey was fielded Jan. 8-13, 2019.
Generations are defined as:
Gen Z: 18-23
Gen X: 40-54
Baby boomers: 55-74
Silent generation: 75 and older