A new study says mom prefers your time over lavish gifts.

2 minute read

Mother’s Day spending is predicted to hit a record-high this year. It’s a huge waste of money.

Those are the results of the recently-released Mother’s Day Spending Survey from LendingTree. The online lending marketplace regularly polls Americans on their spending and debt. For this survey, the company polled more than 2,100 consumers on “what they’re planning to give this year, and moms on what they hope to receive.”

More than 1 in 3 Americans “might take on debt buying Mother’s Day gifts.” Nearly that same number of moms say they’d prefer their kids just spend time with her, not money on her. What’s interesting is that 40 percent of survey respondents say mom has “scolded them for spending too much money on her.”

“Though it is a total cliché, it really is often the thought that counts on days like Mother’s Day,” LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz says. “Sure, it can be tempting to go flashy and spend too much money on a bunch of gifts, but you don’t have to do it that way. “Quality time can really be about the best gift there is.”

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Mother’s Day spending: disappointing mom more each year

The National Retail Federation – the largest retail trade association in the world – tracks Mother’s Day spending annually. This year, Americans plan to spend a whopping $246. That’s the largest year-over-year increase in spending on moms in the past five years.

Here’s why it’s a total waste of money: 1 in 5 moms told LendingTree’s pollsters they were “disappointed by Mother’s Day gifts in the past.”

It’s not that moms are just too hard to please, they just want their kids to have financial security. Nearly half of all survey respondents said they “definitely consider mom a strong financial role model.”

Four in ten survey respondents said inflation will play a role in what gifts they can afford. That gives moms more reason than ever to tell the family to save money.

“I’d wager that quite a few families around the nation are going to wrestle with that this Mother’s Day,” Schulz says. “With inflation going through the roof, it may be harder to avoid taking on a little bit of debt now than in recent years, but you should certainly try.”

Find out: 17 Daughters Share Timeless Money Lessons From Their Moms

What mom really wants

A card and your time. When asked what they want for Mother’s Day, those were the two most popular responses.

Many families feel pressure to pamper mom on her special day. Further LendingTree research shows Americans spend more money on Mother’s Day than on Father’s Day. It actually puts more pressure on dads than the rest of the family.

Four in ten dads say they “believe they may take on Mother’s Day debt” this year. That’s compared to 28 percent of men without children. It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

Schulz advises you to communicate with the mom in your life. You can celebrate a great Mother’s Day without going into debt.

“She probably doesn’t want you to go into debt any more than you do,” Schulz says. “A thoughtfully planned day of some of Mom’s favorite low-cost activities, followed by a special home-cooked meal, can be a wonderful gift. A sweet love note or some other gift that you made yourself can be amazing, too.”

Find out: How to Stay Out of Debt and Prevent Debt Problems

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About the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Joe Pye started writing about debt and personal finance five years ago while attending Florida Atlantic University, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the student-run newspaper, the University Press. Before graduating with a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism, Pye placed as a finalist for the Mark of Excellence award by the Society of Professional Journalists Region 3 for feature writing and in-depth reporting. In 2021, Pye earned First Place in the Green Eyeshade awards for "Best Blog" for his side-project BrowardBeer.com. Since taking a full-time position as associate editor at Debt.com in 2018, Pye has become a certified debt management professional who's applied what he's learned to his personal life by paying down more than $22,000 worth of combined credit card, student loan, auto and tax debt in less than two years.

Published by Debt.com, LLC