Cha-Ching! Guess Who Spends The MOST On Love?

couple jumping
Love, Self

Can money buy love? Well, not quite, but a new survey reveals it'll definitely cost you to keep it.

Money is often a source for conflict in a marriage or romantic relationship. It is among the top five things that strain couples’ relationships—often irreparably. As we were thinking about how an astounding $19 billion (yes, BILLION with a B!) per year is spent on flowers, chocolates, gifts and fancy restaurants for Valentines, we started thinking about how much people spend all year long in favor of love.

Rather than money being a source of disagreement in a relationship, we wondered about how much people were spending to invest in their relationship. How much is money being used to help couples get closer?

A recent survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) and found that the vast majority of people who’ve been in relationships spend more when they're in one. 89 percent report to spend monthly on things like dining out, travel, entertainment, and personal items such as clothes, cosmetics, and gym memberships when they are in a relationship. 70 percent spend an incremental $600 or more annually and for a hefty 14 percent, that amount is $3,600 or more spent annually when they are 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

Be sure to check out our infographic made from all these mind-blowing stats!

Knowing that love is the most powerful important thing in the world, we were extremely gratified to see the majority of people acknowledge that they do, indeed, open their wallets to take care of their hearts.

While we expected to see that love drives spending, and that the broad population truly invests in keeping love, several of the overall trends from this survey were surprising, to say the least.

Guess which segment of people is far and away the most romantic—at least in terms of how they spend their money? 30-something women hoping to get it right? Older men eager to make it last—at last? Nope.

Believe it or not, it's young men! While it's easy to assume younger guys are too busy playing Call Of Duty or shooting hoops, it turns out, they're the ones who invest most to find—and maintain love.

An eye-popping 98 percent of men 18-34 who have ever been in a relationship indicate that they spend something every month on things like dining out, entertainment, gifts, the gym, etc because of the fact that they are in a relationship (aka spending they would not do if they were single). Maybe we shouldn't be surprised. After all, it was a cadre of young male poets who managed to inspire generations to embrace their inner romantic. We thank you, Keats!

"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."

Men ages 18-34 spend more than other age groups on experiences they can do with their significant other, from going out to dinner on date night or taking a romantic vacation when they are in a relationship as compared to when not. 57 percent of young men claim to spend on such experiences as compared to 41 percent overall. Dining out, travel, entertainment, you name it, what matters is they’re spending to get closer to their partner.

While young men may be the biggest romantics, men of all ages outspend women on love, whether they're taking their partner on a romantic getaway, surprising her with flowers, just because, or signing up for a dating site to find the one. 57 percent of men who have ever been in a relationship spend $100 or more per month on entertainment and other activities and items when they're in a relationship, whereas just 35 percent women will spend that.

"After reviewing all of this data carefully, my conclusion is that either feminism is alive and well and women may be relatively ambivalent about prioritizing romance and romantic relationships or, generally speaking, it means women may expect to be courted and are OK with letting him foot the bill," says Andrea Miller, CEO and Founder of YourTango. "I suspect it is the latter."

And to the question: when you are in a relationship, how frequently do you buy gifts (including impulse purchases) for your significant other? 98 percent of men 18-34 who have ever been in a relationship claim to have gifted their significant other as compared to 92 percent overall. Hmm, looks like it pays to date a younger guy.

19 percent of men and women of all ages who have been in a relationship claim to only gift at expected times throughout the year (ie Valentine's Day, birthdays and holidays) whereas 30 percent claim to gift "several times during the year" and 17 percent gift to their SO about once a month. Men generally gift more frequently than women. With 21 percent of men versus 13 percent of women saying they buy their significant other a gift about once a month, they're hands-down the gift-givers in relationships. In fact, women are twice as likely as men to claim that they "never" buy gifts for their significant other (10 percent for women vs. 5 percent for men)

Singles are clearly not sold on the "money buys love" idea. Shockingly, 64 percent of the people not in a committed relationship claim they spend "nothing" on monthly activities and personal services, from dating sites to cosmetics, in pursuit of finding a romantic relationship.

Another surprising result is how much more men not in a committed relationship spend to obtain love. 42 percent spend something in pursuit of finding a romantic relationship each month, whereas only 31 percent of women not in a committed relationship spend monthly in pursuit of love.

Some other fascinating data points and over-arching trends:

The West Spends The Most On Love (But The Least To Pursue It)
72 percent of people not in a committed relationship out West don't spend their cash on dating sites or personal services, like hair or clothing—versus the 54 percent of singles in the Northeast who claim not to spend in pursuit of romantic relationships.

But don't write off those in the West as misanthropic cheapskates just yet. It's also the region most likely to spend more when they're in a relationship. While 69 percent of people nationwide who have ever been in a relationship spend more in relationships, that number in the West is 74 percent. Plus, 51 percent of those out west who have ever been in a relationship say they spend $100 per month or more on their relationship, whereas 45 percent do so nationwide.

Spending On Love Generally Decreases As People Get Older.
We saw this across the entire survey with very few exceptions. For example, when it comes to spending when in a relationship, 84 percent of people 18-34 who have ever been in a relationship claim they spend more vs. 71 percent for people 35-44 versus 68 percent for people 45-54; 66 percent for people 55-65 and only 53 percent for people 65 and older.

People who have higher incomes and are more educated tend to spend more on their romantic relationships. 62 percent of those who have ever been in a relationship and who have a high school education or less claim to spend more when they are in a relationship vs. 76 percent for those who have a college or advanced degree.

We were encouraged to see that people with children under 18 in the household spend more on maintaining love than their childless counterparts by over 25 percent. 51 percent of those with kids claim they spend $100 or more per month vs. 43 percent of those without.

People In Relationships Spend More On Themselves, Too
"Great to see that 27 percent of people who have ever been in a relationship spend more money on products and services — ie clothes, gym memberships, spa services and cosmetics—to look and feel their best when in a relationship than when not," states Miller. "So much for the theory that committed love inevitably leads to letting yourself go, ie stretch pants and beer guts! Taking care of yourself is an important investment in your relationship. It is also fascinating that men and women are equally represented by this increase in spending. It is official: manscaping has now gone mainstream—at least for men in love!"

And while this 27 percent stat covers the whole US, interesting that people in the Northeast tend to be the most conscientious about how they look and feel vis a vis their relationship. 30 percent claim to spend more on products and services to look and feel their best while they’re in a relationship where only 20 percent in the Midwest claim to spend more on themselves when they are in a relationship.

And, yet again, young men are among the highest spenders in this arena. The segments most interested in looking and feeling their best include 36 percent of men 18-34 claiming to spend more in this pursuit, being slightly outspent by young women, 18-34, of whom 37 percent claim to spend more to look and feel their best when they're in a relationship.

Survey Methodology
Harris Poll conducted this study on behalf of the National Endowment for Financial Education from February 3-5, 2015, via its QuickQuerySM online omnibus service, interviewing 2,016 U.S. adults aged 18+. Data were weighted using propensity score weighting to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity, and propensity to be online. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, click here or contact Paul Golden at NEFE,


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