The shocking number of people that go into debt for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day might be the most transparent “Hallmark Holiday.” Sadly, cupid and commerce agree on the essentials: chocolate, stuffed bears, flowers, a little ice, and a candlelit dinner. No way around it.

If you don’t have the funds to do true love justice either fake a serious illness or join the one in 10 Americans who go into debt every year on behalf of Valentine’s day expenses. The most common contributors include spending on restaurants (52%), gifts (48%) and entertainment (43%).

These stats come courtesy of a new survey of 1,000 Americans conducted by Compare Cards.

According to the report, the average respondent expects to spend more than $140 on their significant other this Friday, even though a comparable majority is certain that their partner will spend much less on them in return.  These figures were even steeper among men ($248.90) and Gen Xers ($293.10).

You might be delighted to learn that a sizable share of the study pool was actually turned off when their date spent too much money on Valentine’s Day. The threshold varies depending on generation, but 31% of all the participants surveyed said extravagance had a way of neutering the spirit of the holiday. On average, respondents said anything over $201 is way too much.

“Good intentions should be acknowledged, but if you spend too much money on Valentine’s Day, your partner may be a bit peeved,” the authors wrote. “If you want to pull out all the stops for your sweetheart without emptying your wallet, then consider budget-friendly alternatives to Valentine’s Day spending.”

You shouldn’t have

Many agree that commercialism has categorically ruined the romantic origins of Valentine’s day.

The holiday began as an ancient Roman Festival. In mid-February, citizens would perform fertility dances, sacrifice animals and then auction suitors off to one another via a lottery system. Tale as old as time.

We’ve since abandon these purity rituals in favor of superficial ones.  Twenty-five percent of the respondents from the new report confessed to routinely spending beyond their means in order to keep their significant other from breaking up with them. This was especially true among Millennials, with 32% going into debt for this very same reason.

Conversely, 17% of participants of every generation have ended a relationship at some point or another because of arguments regarding excessive spending. Just about half agreed that a relationship beholden to economic status cannot last.

Valentine’s day seems to be a good ethical litmus test. Celebrating the holiday successfully is measured by a tally of things that have very little to do with affection.

Younger generations appear to be developing an antipathy towards establishment norms. For the first time in a long time normalizing social services has entered the overtone window. Young people are no longer ashamed to demonstrate maturity through fiscal regulation as opposed to the achievement of lavish lifestyles—a welcomed return to form.

From the report:

“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.”

Over 40% of the Gen Zer surveyed in the new analysis plan on taking advantage of reward cards to fund a romantic Friday evening.

The authors suggest love birds practice sobriety and imagination this coming Valentine’s day. Effort and affection are the only things really required for a special day. Fancy dinners and gifts are merely shortcuts to articulating both.

“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,” the authors conclude.

Besides, dedicating a holiday to the person you’re currently dating is like giving a pimple a birthday. If you disagree now, check back in about six months.

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