How Much Does Love Drive Spending?

Survey Unveils Costs of Relationships

Date: February 10, 2015
Contact: Paul Golden 303-224-3514, pdg@nefe.org

DENVER—February is a month to celebrate love and relationships. While many couples commit to spending time with their significant other, they also are committing to spending money. In fact, seven in 10 (69 percent) of Americans say they spend more money while in a relationship versus when they are single according to a survey in partnership with the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) and the love and relationship website YourTango.com. This is true for men at 71 percent compared to women at 58 percent.

And although money can’t buy love, relationships come with a price tag. Nearly three in 10 (29 percent) say they spend an average of $1,200 to $3,600 annually ($100-$299 per month) on expenses related to their relationship than when not in a relationship. The survey was conducted online in early February by Harris Poll among more than 2,000 adults in the U.S. on behalf of NEFE and YourTango.com.

“Love does indeed have a price and not surprisingly people spend more when they are in a relationship,” says Patricia Seaman, senior director with NEFE. “Now we have a better picture of who spends on preening, who spends on vacations and outings, and who spends on shiny objects and other gifts. Like any spending, however, some may be flattered by the financial attention, and some may be horrified by what they consider a waste of money. It’s a good time for couples to sit down and talk about what’s important when it comes to money in their relationship.”

“I am truly floored to see that young men win the prize for the most romantic consumer segment—at least in terms of how they spend their money. Men ages 18 to 34 invest the most to find and maintain love by virtually every measure we analyzed,” says Andrea Miller, CEO and founder of YourTango. “I am fascinated to see that men of all ages outspend women on love—by a large margin. Fifty-seven percent of men who have ever been in a relationship spend $100 or more per month on entertainment, travel, and other activities and items when they’re in a relationship, whereas just 35 percent of women spend that.”

Love Costs graphic showing survey results 
Click above to see full version.

Americans are doling out cash to keep their relationship alive. Two in five (38 percent) of U.S. adults when in a relationship say they spend more on experiences that both people will enjoy like dining out, seeing a movie or taking a trip. Yet 32 percent say they spend more on spoiling their significant other (38 percent for men compared to 26 percent for women) when in a relationship as compared to when not in a relationship. This is apparent in gift giving where men (21 percent compared to 13 percent for women) are more likely to buy gifts, including impulse purchases, for their partner about once per month.

From Experiences to Gifts: Couples Find Value in Relationships
And although gift giving doesn’t stop once couples tie the knot the survey shows the frequency tends to decrease. Among those who have ever been in a relationship, just 14 percent of married people say they spend money on gifts for their significant other about once per month compared to 20 percent of non-married people.

“Are you in sync with your partner—or are you in conflict,” Seaman asks. “Do you enjoy receiving gifts—or does it stress you out that your partner is spending too much on stuff you don’t need? Don’t put a damper on Valentine’s Day, but schedule some time soon to talk about your individual values and goals when it comes to money.”

Looking Good Equals Feeling Good
The survey also finds that 25 percent of adults are much more to somewhat more likely to spend money on personal services and goods to make themselves feel or look better because they are in relationship. These services include clothing shopping sprees, gym memberships, cosmetics and visits to the spa or salon. Interestingly, men are just as likely as women to spend more money on these personal products and services when in a relationship. And it’s not just non-married couples who are shelling out extra cash to look and feel good. Among those who have ever been in a relationship, 22 percent of married people are much more to somewhat more likely to spend money to look and feel good because of their relationship, compared to 33 percent of those who are non-married.

“I think it’s great to see that people in relationships spend money to look and feel their best. So much for the theory that committed love inevitably leads to letting yourself go—so long stretch pants and beer guts,” says Andrea Miller, CEO and founder of YourTango.com. “Taking care of yourself is an important investment in the relationship. It is also fascinating that men and women are equally represented by this increase in spending.”

Take the LifeValues Quiz
If you are in a relationship where your financial life is connected to another person, you must take steps to understand how your values may differ from those of your spouse or partner. NEFE’s LifeValues Quiz helps people identify the values that drive their financial decisions. Learn more and to take the LifeValues quiz here.

For tips on understanding your spending patterns and even working together as a couple to handle finances, visit www.smartaboutmoney.org.

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of the National Endowment for Financial Education from February 3-5, 2015, among 2,016 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, click here or contact Paul Golden at NEFE.

About YourTango.com
YourTango is the #1 media company focused on love and relationships. Our mission is to help people love their best and be at the center of this never-ending conversation. YourTango presents compelling editorial that inspires, informs and entertains our audience of educated, professional women. We have created an interactive platform where our community of users, brands and the world’s leading relationship experts connect and engage where it matters most: the heart.
For more, visit www.yourtango.com.

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Graphical representation of relationships and spending survey

Contacts

  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    pdg@nefe.org

  • Patricia (Pat) Seaman

    Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

    Direct: 303-224-3538
    pas@nefe.org