According to the Smithsonian Magazine, the origins of Valentine’s Day began as a feast to celebrate the decapitation of several St. Valentines who died on February 14 during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius Gothicus at a time when the persecution of Christians was common. Britannica cites the origins of Valentine’s Day as the Roman festival of Lupercalia, which celebrated the coming of Spring, including fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery.
Regardless of the ancient origins of Valentine’s Day, the modern-day version of this celebration is just an attempt to make you part with your hard-earned money. Here’s why you shouldn’t spend money this Valentine’s Day:
Experiences are better
A twenty-year study by Dr Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, found that after our basic needs have been met, money will only increase happiness to a certain point. While our happiness over new material items fades quickly, the opposite is true for positive experiences that create memories. His research found that while material possessions (although possibly part of our identity) remain separate from us, experiences become an integral part of who we are. Another important finding is that while we consume experiences directly with other people, the same cannot be said for material possessions. Simply put, sharing experiences builds social relationships whereas buying things does not.
It’s the thought that counts
It may sound clichéd, but it’s true. It’s the kindness behind an act that matters most. According to a 2019 Boost Valentine’s Day survey, 84% of respondent said that a gift wasn’t that important to them. About half of the respondents said that a cosy night in would be preferable to going out. Loneliness was a key theme of the survey, with many respondents dreading feeling, or being, alone on Valentine’s Day – which just goes to show that it’s the social connection and small acts of kindness that matter.
It’s a day manufactured to make you spend your money
Valentine’s Day is a commercially manufactured holiday that causes stress (including financial stress) and heartache for many. More than expressing love in a handwritten note to your loved one, consumers have been made to feel pressured to buy expensive gifts, chocolates and flowers not only for the special person in their life but for parents, siblings, children, grandparents, teachers and even pets. Large retailers leverage on feelings of guilt to persuade consumers to spend money on a day manufactured to increase their profits.
Money can’t buy love
Spending money to impress others rarely works in the long-term and, sadly, will only attract the kind of person you probably don’t need in your life. If your special person is only impressed by material trappings, think carefully about the foundations of the relationship. Unless you are very wealthy, spending huge amounts of money to impress your loved one is simply not sustainable. They’ll either realise that you’re not as wealthy as you originally made out to be, or grow bored with the material spoils and move on.
You have better things to spend your money on
The end of the tax year is drawing to a close and now is the opportune time to use any available money to top up your retirement annuity and/or tax-free savings account to reduce your tax liability. Instead of blowing your money, use whatever disposable cash you have to boost your investments before the end of the 2019/2020 tax year.
You probably haven’t budgeted for it
Having focused your efforts on surviving Janu-worry and setting your finances on course for 2020, it’s unlikely that you’ve built Valentine’s Day spend into your budget. Blowing unbudgeted money on jewellery, a night out or over-priced flowers can set you back unnecessarily.
You’re fuelling the industry
Valentine’s Day is lucrative for retailers, and the more you spend the more you fuel the industry. According to the US’s National Retail Federation, Valentine’s Day shoppers plan to set new spending records in 2020. In fact, it is estimated that they will add $27.4 billion to the US economy, which is a massive increase from last year.
You can enjoy Valentine’s Day without spending a cent
Contrary to what we are led to believe, you can enjoy Valentine’s Day without spending a cent. There are so many experiences available to us in our beautiful country that don’t cost anything and are free for anyone to enjoy. Beach walks, hikes, sundowners, surfing, picnics, museum visits, live music, libraries, art galleries, free wine tastings and exhibitions are just some ideas for enjoying an experiential Valentine’s Day with the one you love.
You’ll be paying inflated prices
The Valentine’s Day economy is driven by the basic principles of demand and supply, and you’ll be suckered into paying hugely inflated prices just because it’s the 14th of February. Once they’ve created a ‘need’, retailers then unashamedly increase prices as the demand for jewellery, chocolates, cards and flowers increases. It’s a case of ‘if you don’t know whose being manipulated, it’s probably you’.
You’re sending the wrong message
Being persuaded to spend money to ‘prove’ your love for someone is sending the wrong message. Money can’t buy love or happiness, and we have a responsibility to our children to ‘walk the talk by demonstrating that a relationship is about mutual respect, understanding, loyalty, commitment and trust.