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Here’s How Much You’ll Save by Celebrating Valentine’s Day on Your Schedule

Woman holding in her hand a very small pink gift
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I’m going to break your brain a little here. Did you know you don’t have to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14?

In fact, you can probably celebrate it a little early or late and save considerable coin. Plus, staying home on Valentine’s Day means you can skip the lines and wrestling other diners for your server’s attention.

Here’s How Much We Spend on Valentine’s Day

Consumers are expected to spend a near-record $19.6 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2018, according to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. This breaks down to an average of $143.56 per person for the 55% of people in the U.S. who will celebrate the holiday. These projected numbers are the second highest in the survey’s 15-year history.

In 2017, consumers spent $136.57 per person on the day of love, which resulted in $18.2 billion in nationwide Valentine’s Day spending.

Where will these billions go? That $19.6 billion includes:

  • $4.7 billion on jewelry
  • $3.7 billion on an evening out
  • $2 billion on flowers
  • $1.9 billion on clothing
  • $1.8 billion on candy
  • $1.5 billion on gift certificates or gift cards
  • $894 million on greeting cards

That’s a lot of money for love.

Supply and Demand: The Economics of Valentine’s Day

We want the best for our sweethearts, but we also want the best for our pockets.

The law of supply and demand says when there’s huge demand for a few very specific items, the price naturally goes up. Take surge pricing for Uber at 2 a.m., for example. Not that I would know anything about that.

The popularity of staple Valentine’s Day gifts, such as chocolates, cards, roses, romantic getaways and jewelry, cause businesses and manufacturers to increase prices to cover the added costs of production, labor and transportation for this one very special day. Some refer to this added cost as a Valentine’s Day love tax.

In 2017, even though Valentine’s Day fell on a Tuesday, the average daily hotel rate in San Francisco increased dramatically each day leading up to the holiday, according to data and analytics firm STR. Here’s how much rates changed each day:

  • Saturday, Feb. 11 to Sunday, Feb. 12: 37% increase
  • Sunday, Feb. 12 to Monday, Feb. 13: 39% increase
  • Monday, Feb. 13 to Tuesday, Feb. 14: 5% increase
  • Wednesday, Feb. 15 to Thursday, Feb. 16: 26% decrease
  • Thursday, Feb. 16 to Friday, Feb. 17: 30% decrease

The San Francisco average daily room rate of $352.98 on Valentine’s Day was 37% higher than the previous Tuesday. (Rates varied by city, though; similar data from New York City and Miami didn’t show significant increases, so choosing your romantic rendezvous wisely can make a big difference.)

As for flowers: ”The price of roses goes up greatly after the first week of February, from the farms to wholesalers, prices of roses and anything red increases,” said Frank Craft, owner of Green Bench Flowers in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Planning a dinner out? Many restaurants offer prix fixe menus for the special day, preventing you from ordering from their regular and likely cheaper menu. Despite these menu games, a 2017 OpenTable survey said 71% of Americans planned to dine out for Valentine’s Day last year, and 44% would splurge on pricier items.

Save Money and Celebrate Valentine’s Day When You Want

Fortunately, there’s no law that states you must celebrate Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14, and my bank account and I are thankful for that. In light of the love tax, planning ahead or celebrating late are less stressful, cheaper options that can keep you out of the red.

How to Plan an Early Valentine’s Celebration

If you’re on a budget or don’t want to kill the mood by fighting crowds, consider getting your shopping done early.

Some local florists may offer early-bird specials. At Green Bench, for example, Craft offered a $30 off 18 long-stem red roses ordered more than a week before the holiday.

You can also avoid 1-800-Flowers’ surcharge for Valentine’s Day delivery by having flowers delivered the day before at no extra charge. Some florists will also discount or waive their delivery fees if you’ll accept delivery on a day other than Valentine’s Day.

Getting ahead of the game can also save you money on sweets. The cheapest day to buy chocolate leading up to the Valentine’s Day is Feb. 8. You’d better hurry!

What to Know if You’re Celebrating Late

Indulge your sweetheart but also get the most bang for your buck by delaying your celebration a bit. In the days following Valentine’s Day, eager grocers, drugstores and florists cut major deals to empty their shelves of outdated holiday goods.

The discounts begin on Feb. 15, when candy, chocolate and other Valentine’s Day goodies go on clearance. The discounts tend to start lower — around 25% — but they can get up to 75-90% as the days and weeks pass. Personally, I look forward to this deep discount every year and treat myself with the likes of Godiva and Lindt Lindor truffles. Ain’t no shame in my game.

You can also find discounted flowers after Valentine’s Day, but Craft says to be leery of the deals you pluck because the flowers you get a day or two after Valentine’s Day might be low-quality surplus that shops are trying to offload.

Craft said most florists restock their supplies shortly after Valentine’s Day, and prices could come down within a week. Keep in mind, though, it could take up to two weeks for prices to return to normal after demand has “flowered out.”

So, When Should We Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Maybe your boo wouldn’t be thrilled with a belated Valentine’s Day, or maybe an early one could be a special surprise. Just be sure to choose wisely and talk to your partner, especially if you’re shooting for after, because no amount of money is worth renting a doghouse.

Celebrating early or late can happen out of necessity can turn into a fun annual tradition. Being a rebel can feel funny, but it’s totally acceptable to break tradition and save money for the bigger picture. You lovebirds might actually remain in love instead of falling into debt.

And if you’re a hopeless romantic or your love insists on celebrating on Valentine’s Day, go for it, but know you don’t have to break the bank.

I’ve always asked my significant other to skip the Valentine’s Day hype and surprise me on any other day of the year. This way it’s cheaper and a bigger surprise. Something about that seems more genuine to me than gas station roses, crowded restaurants and awkward romantic gestures. Just give me Chinese delivery and Netflix on Feb. 14!

Money can’t buy you love, but it can buy you some heart-shaped savings.

Stephanie Bolling is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s head over heels for skipping tradition and saving money.

Penny Hoarder data journalist Alex Mahadevan contributed to this article. When’s Valentine’s Day, again?

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