Most of us have, by now, heard the funny song on social media that goes “Valentines is coming. Where’s your boyfriend…”
It definitely heightens the anxieties that typically builds up in the run-up to this holiday where lovers, friends and relatives express their affection with greetings and gifts. But do you know how this day came about?
Well, there are different stories about it. One tale is told of a priest named Valentine who defied the emperor, Claudius II. Claudius outlawed marriage for young men with the intention to make them better soldiers. Valentine found this decree to be horrible so he married them in secret.
However, this defiance got him killed. He became a martyr of love. Later on, in the 5th century, Pope Pegasus declared February 14, St. Valentines Day.
St. Valentine’s day wasn’t a day to spend money. It was like that until the 19th century when the selling of Valentine’s Day cards became a commercial venture. Whilst Valentine’s Day isn’t a gimmick, it’s a festival leveraged by marketers for profit.
For some Kenyans, this day finds them financially constrained. So they would rather carry on with their usual activities cautious of any extra spending.
For others, Valentines will not go without being commemorated. They are, in most cases, glad to treat their partners on this day and go out of their way to make their partners happy.
Kenyans spend more on romantic experiences and purchases go beyond traditional gifts.
According to MasterCard’s Annual Love Index report of a study done ahead of the Valentine’s Day of February 11 -14; 2017-2019, the number of transactions on hotels in Kenya in 2017 rose by 65% to 2019 against a 22 % rise globally, slotting hotels at the top of the wish list for Kenyans as Valentine's Day approaches. Kenyans also spent 37% more than they spent in 2017 on booking flights and trips.
A study of transactions done by the index identified spending habits and trends during this season by analyzing transactions done through debit, credit, and prepaid cards from 53 countries around the globe.
In its fifth year, the findings revealed that the world’s ‘love economy’ was growing five times quicker than the global economy, with Valentine’s Day spending all around the world up 17% since 2017.
One very common is food. Food remains a safe way to people’s hearts, with spending in restaurants rising for Valentine’s Day year after year. Kenyans treat their partners to special meals on this day, with amounts spent on restaurants increasing by 18% in 2019, against a 16% increase globally.
Another is jewellery. Kenya registered a 21% increase in jewellery purchases against a 6% increase rise globally.
Flowers seem to be less favoured in Kenya. This is after an indicated 29% decrease against a 3% increase in global sales.
Valentine’s Day cards continue to be a Kenyan favourite. While global spending on cards had increased by 3%, Kenyans' purchase of cards had increased by 24% in 2019.
While this may not really come as a shocker in a patriarchal society, a 2015 study by the National Retail Federation in the United States, found evidence supporting this expectation.
According to the study, men spent Ksh19,000 on 14th February on average as compared to Ksh9,600 women spent.
A quick look into this revealed that men usually believe that they are meant to spend more to please their partners. The second reason is that women’s gifts are typically costlier.
Apparently, about 91% of people will have something planned for their partners during Valentine's. The remaining 10% comprises of people who don't believe in this day, might forget about it, or will just do nothing with their partner. Single people weren’t taken into consideration for this part of the study.
The previous year's data revealed that people aged between 25–34 spent an average of Ksh21,300 on Valentine's Day! Followed by 35–44-year-olds, who spent an average of Ksh17,600.
Then comes 18–24-year-olds, who spent an average of Ksh16,900. Note the figures here have been converted into Kenya Shillings from US Dollars, the currency of the where the study was conducted.
In Kenya, a 2016 survey by TIFA Research found that Kenyans intended to spend an average of Ksh1,650 on gifts for that year's Valentine's Day with men showing a higher intention of spending more than women.
In Kenya, 2019 spending increased even more – up by 32 % since 2017, with overall transactions going up by 51%. This increase was significantly higher compared to the global average of 17% increase in spending and an increase of total transactions by 31%.
Online shopping also increased as indicated with 64% in online transactions in Valentine’s season compared to 57% globally. This is as reported by MasterCard’s Love Index report 2019.
145 million cards get exchanged every Valentine's day according to Hallmark. This automatically makes 14th February the second-largest day for exchanging cards, after Christmas.
Well, don’t we all love money? So while showing affection to the things we love why don’t we extend the love to our finances?
Here are 4 ways to fall in love with your finances.
Questions like How are you doing? Do you need anything? What can I do? Are usually used to express care and concern. And these feelings are the ones that will keep you updated on the state of your finances. Keep a keen eye on your income and expenditure.
Your financial journey is always going to be eventful. Many challenges and different goals to work for. With the good habit of checking in on your finances, you will know when to loosen or tighten that belt, when to consider making bigger sacrifices, and when to just chill.
It’s just like every other relationship out there. It needs to endure.
Why not use this Valentine's Day to do a complete financial self-audit?
You have to realize that the most valuable asset you have is YOU. You need to, firstly, really know yourself. Know your strengths and weaknesses. This way you will know what you’re good at and where you need to improve on and what burdens you have (e.g. debt). Knowing these will also determine your ability to earn and spend.
Take it as a first date with your finances. Set a goal. An achievable one. Once you’ve made a budget and developed the saving habit, you’ll be right on track. It will feel awesome to attain a goal with your new love.
Our finances need some pampering too you know? As we go ahead to celebrate Valentine's Day with our loved ones, you have to remember that our relationship with money needs to be just as healthy. Pamper it as well as you will pamper your partner.
Let's fall rich in love. Happy valentines!