The Jared Dillian Letter

More Kisses Begin with Miller Lite than Kay

Valentine’s Day is two days away, and it’s another opportunity to break the bank.

Let’s look at the latest numbers…

People expect to spend an average of $161.96 on Valentine’s Day this year, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s a 13% jump over last year, and it easily tops the previous record of $146.84 set in 2016.

Total spending for Valentine’s Day is expected to reach $20.7 billion. That’s a 6% increase over last year’s $19.6 billion, and it breaks the previous record of $19.7 billion.

Spending is increasing even though only 51% of Americans plan to celebrate the holiday—down from a high of 63% in 2007.

Folks, do we really need to spend $20 billion on Valentine’s Day? Let’s face it: More kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay jewelry.

You Don’t Need an Excuse for Romance

I hate to say this, but I’ve noticed that people who go all out for Valentine’s Day are the ones with the worst marriages.

Full disclosure—my wife and I spend zero dollars on Valentine’s Day. We don’t need an excuse to be nice to each other. There are plenty of ways to keep the romance going without dropping $200 at an overcrowded restaurant.

Do something romantic. Go to a movie, play tennis together, go to the beach—whatever your couple thing is. You don’t need Valentine’s Day for any of that. You don’t need it to buy flowers or a pair of earrings. And you certainly don’t need it to pick up a little slack around the house—scoop the litter box, shift the laundry, and see where that gets you…

Why get into a food fight trying to book restaurant reservations on Valentine’s Day? You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.

$886 Million on Valentine’s Gift for Pets!

There’s a lot of social pressure around this holiday, and it’s just terrible.

People are going to spend $3.9 billion on jewelry, $3.5 billion going out for the evening, $2.1 billion on clothing, $1.9 billion on flowers, $1.8 billion on candy, $1.3 billion on gift cards, and $933 million on greeting cards. Wow.

Oh, and some people even give their pets Valentine’s Day presents, to the tune of $886 million. Are you serious?

Most of you know I’m an animal lover. I have a bunch of cats, but I’m not getting the cats anything for Valentine’s Day. It’s bad enough that I keep track of their birthdays and put up stockings for them at Christmas. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere.

The Best Gift You Can Give

Ok, so I’m the Ebenezer Scrooge of Valentine’s Day. I have no use for this holiday, but maybe you do.

If Valentine’s Day is a big deal in your relationship, that still doesn’t mean you should spend a lot of money.

Sure, if your mortgage is paid off, your kids’ college plans are funded, and you have zero debt and a million dollars in the bank, go for it. Buy your partner something nice if you want to—just spend on quality, not quantity.

Otherwise, you have to manage expectations here, just like you do at Christmas.

Spending money you don’t have is one of the worst things you can do for any relationship. And being realistic about money is one of the best gifts you can give your spouse.

So, if you do want to celebrate—but you’re strapped for cash or paying down debt—be upfront about it. Pack some sandwiches and take a pretty hike together. Go for a bike ride and stop for ice cream.

Whatever you’re into as a couple, I bet there’s some way to do it without overspending. Ask anyone in a good long-term relationship and they’ll tell you the same thing: Time and attention are what matter.

Trust me, your wife isn’t going to be happy if you buy her a $250 necklace—then turn around and pay the power bill late. There’s nothing romantic about bad money choices.

Jared Dillian
Jared Dillian

Get Jared’s latest advice in your inbox each Wednesday. Sign up today!