Don’t Let Social Pressure Make You Overspend for Valentine’s Day

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 09 February, 2017

In 2016, Singaporeans spent an average of S$263 on Valentine’s Day. Giving into social expectations often means paying over-inflated prices.

For a city once accused of being the most unhappy in the world, Singapore sure loves love.

In 2016, MasterCard found that Singaporeans planned to spend an average of S$263 on Valentine’s Day. This places Singapore in the 3rd place when it comes to per capita spending for the holiday.

Emboldened by our willingness to spend, it is no wonder that brands jump on the opportunity to jack up prices on 14 Feb. But just because every couple from here to Pasir Ris is lining up to shovel their hard-earned money into the gaping, rose-petal-covered maw of commercialism doesn’t mean that you have to follow suit.

Sure, dashing and debonair comes with a certain air of recklessness, but being careless with your money isn’t the best way to keep the romance going. Also, rather than the monetary value of the gift, celebrants are increasingly more appreciative of the thought behind it.

Aspiring Romeos (and Juliets) should take note: your grand, fancy overtures are losing their appeal. Instead, unique and thoughtful is what’s winning hearts.

This is good news for your wallet. You can stop feeling stressed out about topping last year’s Valentine’s Day, if not in sentiment then at least in price. But if the thought of not spending money in mid-Feb makes you feel queasy, make sure it’s not just FOMO (fear of missing out).

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The Truth About Valentine’s Day

Countless marketing messages have taken their collective toll on our consciousness, making Valentine’s Day all about jewelry, flowers, chocolate, fine food and drink, and everything and anything fancy.

“That’s the way to celebrate the day, that’s how you show true love”, we’re told, over and over again. But if you really want to celebrate Valentine’s Day in its purest form, you’d sacrifice a goat and a dog, then whip your lady with the poor animals’ bloody pelt before drawing names from a jar to determine who you’ll be shacking up with.

So much for gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes while savouring hand-crafted confectionery.

The point is, the customs and behaviours that have become the modern hallmarks of 14 February are no more real than the danger of a flying baby assaulting you with a medieval weapon of war. (That must be one jacked baby if it has the upper body strength to draw a shortbow.)

While the practice of spending money to show your love is a product of clever marketers, it’s human psychology that has allowed these practices to seep in and get a stranglehold on our bank accounts - to the tune of USD18.2 billion, the projected spend for V-Day 2017 in the States alone.

Fear of Missing Out Makes You Accept High Prices

We can’t help but wonder how a day that’s supposed to be all about love more often turns out to be fraught with stress and danger. (We mean that literally - breakups have been shown to happen more often in the weeks immediately before and after the most romantic day of the year.)

Researchers suggest relationships that are dysfunctional to begin with become more brittle when viewed through the heightened expectations of Valentine’s Day. Therefore, troubled couples may spend more on grand gestures in an effort to improve or stabilise their relationships.

But even if you are currently blessed with a relatively healthy and supportive relationship, there is undeniable pressure to do something special to show your love come 14 Feb.

A 2015 survey found that as many as 25% of men celebrated the occasion out of a sense of obligation or because they were hoping to get lucky. Meanwhile, 13% of women said they decided to celebrate because everyone else was doing it.

And quite often, this means giving in and doing what every other couple is doing. But on Valentine’s Day, giving into these social pressures means paying over-inflated prices.


Spending on Valentine’s Day Isn’t Worth It

Lest anyone accuse us of being bitter and cynical, we’d like to congratulate our happily partnered readers who are looking forward to their romantic celebrations. There’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to celebrate your love with a special day or weekend.

But truthfully, unlike other traditions, any beneficial psychological effects to be had from partaking in the rituals of romance are shaky at best. Also, as demonstrated by the work of Gottman and Levenson, daily attention, kindness and trust shown to your significant other is far more important in sustaining love than any singular gesture, however grand or romantic (or expensive!) they may be.  

This makes Valentine’s Day - more than any other mass celebrations - simply an excuse for certain businesses to pad their bottom lines.

The savvy couple, then, can make the best use of Valentine’s Day by resisting the temptation to spend money just to tick off arbitrary checkboxes. Instead, plan your celebrations around creating a shared experience that emphasizes what you love about each other.

Credit Cards Can Make Valentine’s Day Rewarding

With the right credit card you can turn your Valentine’s Day spending into an opportunity to reap some serious rewards. For example, pay for your Valentine's Day staycay with an air miles credit card to accumulate miles that you can use for your next couple’s holiday.

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We recommend the Citi PremierMiles Visa credit card, which gives you 1.2 miles for every S$1 spent locally, and 2 miles for overseas transactions. There’s also a welcome bonus of up to 42,000 bonus miles for new customers; your V-Day staycation could just well net you round trip tickets.

And because we’re feeling the love this February, every successful Citibank credit card application will also entitle you to a S$100 NTUC voucher - but only if you sign up through!

Read This Next:

Should You Give Your Girlfriend a Supplementary Credit Card?

The Financial Benefits of Being Single in Singapore

Alevin ChanBy Alevin Chan

A Certified Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin's mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He's also on an ongoing quest to optimize happiness and enjoyment in his life.

An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.


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