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Personal Finance

How to stop inflation from breaking your heart this Valentine's Day

These tips will help you sweep your special somebody off their feet without paying an arm and a leg.

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Chris Ryan | Ojo Images | Getty Images

If you're excited (or resigned) about the impending arrival of Valentine's Day, there's one wrinkle to this year's holiday you'll have to deal with — inflation. High prices have helped 41% of Americans decide love isn't in the budget, and another 23% are still on the fence about participating in Valentine's Day festivities this year, according to a recent survey by the review platform Trustpilot. 

Instead of paying for the usual chocolates and dinners, nearly half of Americans reported plans to put what would have been their Valentine's Day spending toward living expenses such as gas, rent and groceries, the survey explains. Even those exchanging gifts say they expect to cut back — with two-thirds of them intending to spend at least 10% less this year than in previous celebrations due to inflation fears. 

Here's a breakdown of how much the costs of popular Valentine's day gifts have changed in the past year, and what you can do to help keep the romance alive — at least as far as the finances go.

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Chocolates — 12 percent more expensive

Common romantic gestures such as buying chocolates or a Valentine's Day card have suffered from inflation, according to data compiled by the personal finance site The Balance. The price of a chocolate candy bar rose to $2.60 in December, which roughly represents a 12% increase from the year before. 

Like many grocery store items, supply chain disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to higher chocolate prices in 2022. Droughts earlier in the year and a shortage of cocoa beans also caused chocolate production to fall behind demand. 

And if you're used to including a sweet card or note with your gift, those supplies are a bit more costly this year, too. Stationery, stationery supplies, and gift wrap — a spending category that includes greeting cards — cost 16.4% more than last year, according to BLS data.

How you can save

One way to avoid overspending on gifts such as candy and cards is by ordering them online with the help of an online shopping portal or browser extension. These web tools give you access to exclusive discounts, cash back rewards, and promo codes, which can all help you save on your gift orders. Honey is a free browser extension that searches for the best deals on your online orders. It will automatically apply any available coupon or promo codes to your cart, saving you time and money. 

Another free extension, Rakuten, gets a commission when you purchase from one of their partnered stores, and splits part of it with you in the form of cash back. This way, you can earn some cash just for purchasing your Valentine's Day gift.

PayPal Honey

  • Cost

    Free

  • How to save

    Get Honey Gold points on eligible purchases, automatic coupons and price comparisons.

  • How to use it

    Download the Honey app or install the browser extension.

  • How to receive your savings

    Redeem Honey Gold points for gift cards.

Terms apply.

Dinner date — 8 percent more expensive

A romantic dinner for two, the staple for many couples on Valentine's Day, has also become pricier.

Restaurants are feeling the pinch of rising costs for ingredients and labor, causing some to raise their menu prices and pass the expenses onto customers. The overall cost of eating out in December was up by 8.2% over the past year, according to BLS data.  

However, one specialty item on your menu may actually be cheaper than last year. The cost of filet mignon has seen a nearly 20% decline since then, according to The Balance's analysis of USDA Market News Retail data.

How you can save

When it's time to settle the bill for dinner, use a card that offers rewards for categories such as dining out and entertainment. The no-annual-fee Citi Custom Cash® Card offers 5% cash back on your top monthly spending category, including dining, on up to $500 in purchases each month.

Plus, some credit cards, like the American Express® Gold Card, offer cardholders various discounts for purchases across different categories, like perfume, beauty, apparel and more. In other words, you might be able to make your gift purchases a little more affordable.

Citi Custom Cash® Card

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Also, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Special Travel Offer: Earn an additional 4% cash back on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on Citi Travel℠ portal through 6/30/2025.

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for first 15 months

  • Regular APR

    19.24% - 29.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer ($5 minimum)

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent, Good, Fair

  • See rates and fees. Terms apply.

American Express® Gold Card

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    4X Membership Rewards® points at Restaurants (plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

  • Annual fee

    $250

  • Intro APR

    Not applicable

  • Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • See rates and fees, terms apply.

 

A dozen roses — 5 percent less expensive

The floral industry suffered from the early days of the pandemic when stores closed their doors and demand went flat amid lockdowns. Since then, it has continued to face supply chain issues, labor shortages and a low supply of certain varieties because of poor growing conditions. 

Other holidays, including Mother's Day, were affected by the global shortage of fresh flowers. Florists told CBS News that they had to upcharge their products by 15% to 20% more to meet the demand for the second biggest flower holiday after Valentine's Day.

Surprisingly, a bouquet of roses may be a more affordable gift option than in the past. Hybrid tea roses cost about $12 for a dozen in December, about 5% less than the price that time last year, per USDA Market News Retail data. 

Bottom line

There are still ways to celebrate Valentine's Day without breaking the bank. In addition to the tips we have for saving on the traditional holiday staples, you can also make your own gifts, have a picnic in a nearby park, or enjoy a night in watching a movie. After all, the most important part of the day is spending time with your loved one. And that's priceless.

Catch up on Select's in-depth coverage of personal financetech and toolswellness and more, and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.  

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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