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Updated: May 25, 2023

Comparing Valentine's Day Spending and Money Habits: Men vs. Women

Men spend more than women on Valentine's Day. A look at how men and women approach money differently when it comes to shopping, saving, and credit.

How much are you planning to spend on Valentine’s Day? If you’re a male, chances are you’ll probably be shelling out a few more bucks than your female counterpart.

According to a recent survey from the National Retail Federation, men will spend an average of $108.38 on gifts for their significant others -- twice as much as women, who are expected to spend $49.41 on their special someone.

“Valentine’s Day will continue to be a popular gift-giving event, even when consumers are frugal with their budgets. This is the one day of the year when millions find a way to show their loved ones they care,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Consumers can expect Cupid’s holiday to resemble the promotional holiday season we saw just a few months ago, as retailers recognize that their customers are still looking for the biggest bang for their buck.”

According to the NRF survey, the average Valentine’s Day shopper will spend $133.91 on candy, cards, gifts or an evening out -- up slightly from $130.97 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $17.3 billion.

Here’s a breakdown of how consumers in the survey plan to spend their money:

  • 51.2 percent -- greeting cards
  • 48.7 percent -- candy
  • 37.3 percent -- flowers
  • 37 percent -- an evening out
  • 19 percent -- jewelry
  • 15.8 percent -- clothing
  • 14 percent -- gift cards

How does Valentine’s Day spending compare to other ways men and women spend and approach money?

Earnings potential

On average, full-time working women earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That gap in wages puts women at a career-long disadvantage. They can’t invest as much money as men, have less saved for the everyday needs of their families, and end up with far less savings for retirement. According to the U.S. Census, by the age of 65 the average woman will have lost $431,000 over her working lifetime.

Moreover, women spend fewer years in the workforce because they are more likely to stay at home to look after their young kids. Some women may even choose to leave the workforce or work part-time to care of the family, which means they are less likely to qualify for a private pension or a company retirement plan. And according to the Social Security Administration, women live longer than men, which means they’ll spend more years in retirement and are more likely to face health care costs taking care of the spouse who dies first.

Saving for retirement

Women are underprepared for retirement. Faced with less earnings potential and a longer life expectancy, women don’t save as much for retirement as their male peers. The retirement and health solutions company Aon Hewitt analyzed more than 140 defined contribution plans representing 3.5 million eligible employees and found that women participate in their employers’ retirement plans at the same rates as men, but save less -- an average of 6.9 percent of pay, compared to 7.6 percent for men.

Across all salary ranges women have average plan balances that are much lower than men. Overall, the average plan balance for women is $59,300, compared to $100,000 for men.

Online shopping habits

A recent survey by the website Shopzilla found that women are more price sensitive and more likely to purchase items on sale compared to men. About 71 percent of women in the survey said they purchase items when on sale compared to 57 percent of men.

However, men were more likely than women to have looked at what they bought in a store and then purchase it online from a different store.


Studies show gender income inequality comes into play the first year after graduating from college -- with women earning lower wages than men despite the fact that they attend college in larger numbers and generally earn higher grades than their male peers. The pay gap continues to impact women throughout their careers.

With less earnings potential, women don’t have the same ability to pay off student loans compared to men, which might lead them to take on more and other types of debt.

That said, a recent study by Experian found that women tend to manage their credit better. According to the study, men carry 4.3 percent more debt than women -- much of it due to men having larger mortgages and a higher incidence of late payments. When it comes to handling credit, the study found that men and women have almost identical average credit scores -- 675 for women and 674 for men.