Does your partner expect you to spend less on a gift this year? You may be surprised.

If you plan to honor you and your sweetheart’s love this Valentine’s Day, you may have already inventoried your bank accounts and credit card balances to see how much you can afford to spend. After all, there’s a lot of pressure on this highly commercialized holiday to prove your love with expensive dinners, travel getaways, jewelry and other costly gifts.

But Valentine’s Day spending could take a pandemic-related hit this year, according to a recent survey from personal finance site WalletHub. And plenty of potential recipients of Valentine’s Day gifts may give their significant other an “expectations” break this year, too.

Here are some of the survey’s key findings to chew on while eating your hundredth bowl of pandemic takeout and making big (or not-so-big) plans for this heart-shaped holiday.

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Men more likely than women to take on Valentine’s Day debt

According to the WalletHub survey, men are nearly 30 percent (29 percent) more likely than women to dive into credit card debt by purchasing an expensive Valentine’s Day gift. Around 16 percent of men were willing to whip out the credit card compared to only 12 percent of women.

“As holidays have become more and more commoditized, we all feel the pressure to give the best and most expensive gifts we can. When it comes to Valentine’s Day, for men, this pressure becomes really strong,” says Ayalla A. Ruvio, associate professor, department of marketing, Broad College of Business at Michigan State University.

“Some men have a hard time choosing what they consider the perfect gift,” says Ruvio. “They are also very well aware of the fact that women tend to talk about their Valentine’s gifts with their friends, and no man wants his gift to be less than the other guys’ gifts. So, spending more on gifts seems like the right way to go.”

Fewer people willing to go into Valentine’s Day debt this year

The number of people who say buying a Valentine’s Day gift that put them into credit card debt dropped by 17 percent compared to last year, according to the WalletHub survey.

Find out: Money Can’t Buy You Love – But It Can Ruin It

Valentine’s Day spending plans range from nothing to $100+

When those surveyed were asked how much they plan to spend on Valentine’s Day this year, 31 percent told WalletHub they didn’t plan to spend a dime on the romantic holiday. But not everyone holds such a tight grip on their money when true love is at stake.

Here’s what other survey respondents said:

  • 33 percent plan to spend up to $50 on Valentine’s Day
  • 29 percent will spend between $50 to $100
  • Seven percent plan to spend more than $100 on Valentine’s Day gifts

So what kinds of Valentine’s Day gifts do people plan to buy, along with old usuals such as candy (56 percent) and greeting cards (40 percent)? Here’s what America’s heart-thumping sweethearts had to say:

  • Flowers: 37 percent
  • Evening out: 31 percent
  • Jewelry: 22 percent
  • Clothing: 22 percent
  • Gift card: 21 percent

Bad credit could spoil your marriage chances

Planning to propose on Valentine’s Day? How romantic — unless you’re still working on improving your bad credit. If that’s the case, you may want to consider holding off on that marriage proposal until things are looking up. More than a third (37 percent) of those surveyed said they wouldn’t marry someone with bad credit.

“When you consider building a future with someone, you want to be sure that you will be able to do so,” says Ruvio. “Life goals such as getting a mortgage, buying a car, living comfortably, raising kids and retiring well are all directly related to a person’s financial situation. Another important factor is that your own credit score will be associated with your partner. If you worked hard to establish a good credit score, the last thing you would want is to lose it.”

If poor credit is holding you back, don’t be discouraged. Your credit history doesn’t have to relegate you to a lifetime of bachelorette or bachelorhood. That’s because you can fix bad credit over time. The passage of time even works in your favor, since negative account history automatically drops off your credit report after seven years.

Start paying all bills on time, and you’ll soon be well on your way to becoming marriage material eventually (at least financially).

Ways to Save Money on Valentine’s Day

No matter how much you plan to spend to prove your love, there are plenty of ways to save money on Valentine’s Day.

Make your own romantic dinner

During a raging pandemic, this money-saving option sounds better than ever to lovebirds who don’t yet feel safe flocking to a restaurant for a romantic dinner. There’s no need to spend at least $100 going out to a pricey restaurant when you can prepare your own customized Valentine’s dinner for half that amount.

You can still go fancy, too. Pick up a couple of filet mignon cuts, some seafood or new and exotic ingredients for that stir-fry recipe you found online. Then buy a good but moderately priced wine so you can toast to your love – and your savings.

Use holiday gift cards

Still have those dusty holiday gift cards you got from your grandma, boss, brother or friends? No one needs to be the wiser if that’s how you pay for dinner, especially if you pay over the phone for a tasty takeout meal because COVID-19 precautions have you eating at home. And don’t forget any gift cards you may have for retail stores, buying items on sale to save even more.

Save money with Groupon

Don’t whip out your credit card for Valentine’s Day gifts before checking out the deals you can score on Groupon. You’ll find two-for-one dinners and other discounts for restaurants, massages, flowers, wine and beer and a host of retail items that would make great gifts for your sweetheart.

Frame a photo of a fun day

Remember when you used to go out into the world together and have fun? Hopefully, those days will return soon. In the meantime, why not commemorate one of those good times by giving your beloved a copy of one of your favorite photos in a cute frame? To save even more, shop for a picture frame that’s on sale.

Don’t go for the cheapest frame, though. You don’t want to tarnish your sweetness by stepping over the fine line of frugality and falling into the cheapskate lane.

Buy flowers and a card at Trader Joe’s

Did you know Trader Joe’s sells fun greeting cards for only 99 cents? The retailer also sells a variety of flowers and plants for next to nothing compared to what you’d spend at a florist or even another grocery store. No Trader Joe’s nearby? Try discount grocer Aldi for flowers or the floral department at another grocery store.

Roses Happy Valentines Day

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC