Personal Finance > Smart Spending
Valentine's Day: how do you stack up?
Find out if your Valentine's Day resembles those of other lovebirds.
February 11, 2003: 3:58 PM EST
By Annelena Lobb, CNN/Money Staff Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) Some lovers love Valentine's Day. Others love to hate it.

The first lot are all for a day that celebrates romance and affection. Count among them gents bearing armfuls of flowers, starry-eyed mates sharing candlelight dinners, and children who make their own cards from construction paper.

Then there's the opposition. Some swinging singles crusade against public emphasis on couples. Some pairs perish the thought of "forcing" romance, on any one day.

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You know exactly what you like to do on Valentine's Day, but how does yours stack up to everyone else's? Take a look below to see who's going to dinner, who's buying flowers, who's staying home and crying with a box of Whitman's Sampler -- and who treats the day just like any other.

The battle of the sexes

So you do have someone special with whom to share Valentine's Day.

Maybe you even found your sweetheart at the office. In a nationwide survey of 1,000 professionals by, an online career information site, 47 percent of respondents said they have had an office romance while 19 percent said they would be willing to do so if the opportunity presented itself.

Wherever you and your honey met, you each may have different ideas about just how important the holiday of hearts is.

If you're a man, you may not care as much, according to a poll by dating Web site Eighty-five percent of respondents said women considered Valentine's Day much more important than men did. Just 1 percent thought men considered it more important. The remaining 14 percent think the Hallmark holiday is equally weighted for both.

Maybe that's why 30 percent of men don't buy Valentine's Day gifts until the day before or the day itself, according to the Society of American Florists. Only a third of men polled said they purchased gifts or made arrangements a week or more in advance.

Still, most guys end up footing a much larger bill for the big day. Last year, men paid an average $158 for gifts, nearly four times the average $36 women spent, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). The guys stuck to traditional gifts -- 60 percent said an evening out or flowers would best express their love for a partner, and another 20 percent thought jewelry was just right.

However, 76 percent of men and women polled by said they preferred a homemade, personal Valentine's Day gift to an expensive, store-bought one.

Flowers are another story.

Eighty percent of sweethearts who give flowers give cut stems. Just over half are roses. Men give 62 percent of the flowers sold for Valentine's Day, and nearly 80 percent of the flowers they buy go to a significant other, according to the Society of American Florists.

As for women, 23 percent buy flowers for their mothers, 15 percent for a significant other and 14 percent for their friends. Fifteen percent of women shopping for flowers buy for themselves.

When deciding how to celebrate, 29 percent of men polled by thought a romantic dinner would be the ideal date; 36 percent of women said they'd like "something non-traditional and unique."

And the especially fortunate may have to choose between dates. Thirty-two percent of those polled by said they'd have to select a date from several romantic interests and 23 percent said they'd send Valentine's Day cards to more than one romantic interest this year.

Beyond romantic love

Valentine's Day is geared to celebrating couples and romantic love. That, of course, leaves some singles feeling left out: 30 percent of those polled by considered it the most stressful holiday to spend single. For moral support, dating Web site found that over half the singles they polled would send a Valentine's Day card to another single friend.

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Still trying to figure out the perfect gift for your sweetheart? CNNfn's Valerie Morris shares ideas on how you can enjoy the day without spending a fortune.

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But many singles have as much fun planned as couples, according to Three of 10 singles will go out to dinner, versus four of 10 couples. Only a weepy 1 percent of singles plans to stay in with Kleenex and a box of chocolates -- as do 1 percent of attached folks.

And to prove not everyone views Valentine's Day as a holiday to celebrate romance, it seems 11p ercent of American couples will buy gifts for their pet this year. Of those, 17 percent -- more than 1.5 million people -- will spend more money on their pets than their lovers on Valentine's Day, according to  Top of page

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