Personal Finance

The Valentine's Day ripoff

Valentine's Day could be expensive!
Eli Asenova | Getty Images

Valentine's Day has never been about saving money. If there is any holiday that preys on your heartstrings and, more so, your purse strings, it is this one.

Between the roses, assorted chocolate, jewelry, restaurant reservations, lingerie and perfume, Americans are spending more than ever before, and paying a steep premium for all those romantic gestures while they are at it.

Still, more than half of all consumers plan to celebrate by buying something, spending an average of $146.84 on flowers, jewelry, candy, clothes and other gifts, up from $142.31 last year, according to the National Retail Federation's Valentine's Day consumer spending survey. Total spending is expected to reach $19.7 billion, an all-time high.

Close to $5 billion will be spent on candy, cards and flowers alone.

Millennials buy holiday gifts for themselves. Selfish or savvy?

"Be aware of what you are spending and that it's in your budget," cautioned Monica Sipes, a financial advisor at Exencial Wealth Advisors and the daughter of a florist. "Don't always think you need to one-up your previous Valentine's Day."

Especially considering that roses, chocolates, jewelry and restaurant pre-fixe dinners are marked up ahead of the holiday.

The price of a dozen roses, for example, is typically hiked 100 percent or more, not to mention the delivery fees and surcharges, just because it's Valentine's Day.

"It is very difficult to find deals around Valentine's Day," noted Benjamin Glaser, the features editor at comparison-shopping site DealNews.

This year, however, the holiday falls just a day before another holiday known for deep discounts, making President's Day an opportune time to stock up on affectionate-type gifts for much less if your partner agrees to celebrate love and Lincoln on the later date.

"I would not postpone without consulting and even asking the question could be dangerous," Glaser warned.

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But if you are both on board, there will be department stores' Presidents Day sales of 20 percent or more on clothing, fragrance and jewelry, he said.

And "to get a sense of how much chocolate is marked up, see how much the price will drop on a Whitman's Sampler box on Feb. 15," Glaser said. Last year, Godiva cut prices by 40 percent after Valentine's Day, he added.

If celebrating Valentine's Day a day late just won't do, Glaser suggests cutting costs by opting for flowers other than roses, like lilies and tulips, making a romantic meal at home and choosing pearls over diamonds.

"There are a lot of really cool things you can do that don't cost any money at all," Sipes added, "a sweet note does a lot of good over fancy jewelry and flowers."