Retailers expect much love on your budget this Valentine

Ms Beatrice Wachira. PHOTO/PAUL LETIWA

It’s February again. And everywhere you go you are being bombarded with red hearts, pink teddy bears and paper cupids shooting arrows. They have become the symbols to remind us that the Valentine’s Day is coming, just in case it slipped our minds.

This is the day for most people to shower their loved ones with expensive dinners, gourmet chocolates, flowers and gifts. But despite the weak economy, cupid-struck couples are ready to spend their hard-earned money to celebrate the day.

Ms Beatrice Wachira (pictured), 24, a Mechanical Engineer based in Nairobi, thinks Valentine’s Day is a holiday that invites people to spend some cash to show love and affection for their better-halves.

“I think there will be nothing wrong on spending some good cash this day. I love Valentine. It’s a special day for us to be nice to those we love,” she says.

Last year Ms Wachira and her fiancée spent Ksh10,500 on dinner and chocolates alone. They bought clothes and shoes worth Sh9, 850.

“In total we spent about 20,350 and that excludes accommodation and drinks. It’s true that every day is a day of love, but Valentine is a day to celebrate love."

High price of love

Without celebrations there will be nothing unique in the love life. We are going to spend a similar amount this time. I like to be spoiled with gifts, new clothes, chocolates and trips,” she says.

For his part, Mr Jerome Nzangi, who is married, says Valentine is the day to appreciate love without breaking the bank.

“I am planning to spend at least Sh6, 000 on clothes, cards and dinner for my family this Valentine. But I don’t think spending much money is a way of showing love, we can still show love without spending much,” he says.

Valentine has become increasingly commercialised with each passing year. The real meaning of the occasion, which is to express one’s love for his/her special one, is getting sidelined by expensive cards, chocolate, clothes, cakes and everything that various stores are trying to sell.

It’s the one day of the year when all the major restaurants will be booked to capacity and roses sell for at least four to five times their usual cost.

Most will hand out heart shaped boxes of chocolate, and children who are too young to even understand romance, let alone experience it, will exchange dozens of cards in some little classroom celebrations.

According to Dr Lukoye Atwoli, a consultant psychiatrist and lecturer at Moi University, most couples spend more money because of marketing and advertising.

“Many people are made to believe (through clever marketing gimmicks) that in order to demonstrate love for their partners, they must spend money on gifts (flowers, chocolate, even phones!). And this is pure psychology. It’s a way of creating the impression that if one does not spend money on one thing or another; then they will not be happy.”

He says people are made to feel that if they do not do this, they are telling their partners they do not love them.

“A feeling of guilt is thus created in the partners such that they will go out of their way to buy a gift for their partner. This may explain why the Valentine’s bug only bites people in mostly urban areas, and often those that have the means to spend,” explains Dr Atwoli.

However, financial expert, Mr Manyara Kirago, believes that Valentine is one of those holidays destined to be compared between friends and co-workers and like with Christmas, people’s bank accounts tends to take a big hit.

“It’s true that Valentine has turned out to be a huge multi-billion dollar business all over the world and everyone is on it. Hotels are booked solid, often months in advance all at full price.

"Restaurants plan special menus, charge far more than their usual rates and are almost always booked solid. Any place that has “date night” potential will be geared up and ready to profit on all the couples falling over themselves to try and be captain romance for a single day.

Youth and adults alike will line up to buy the best cards and presents they can find without even looking at the price tag,” he explains.

Mr Kirago, who is also the managing director of First Independent Advisors, says in a difficult economic environment like ours, people in a relationship can react differently to their financial circumstance and communication can become very strained.

In order to avoid tension, he advises, it is important for couples to step back and ask each other about where their finances are now and what their future objectives are.

Discuss finances

“There is nothing less romantic than financial problems. If you’re among the many couples struggling during these tough economic times, instead of dropping your hard-earned cash this Valentine’s Day on candy, jewellery and fancy dinners, you should consider sitting down with your loved one to discuss your finances.”

Mr Kirago says that instead of couples waiting to spend their hard-earned cash on the Valentine’s day, it is better for them to do little acts that demonstrate love to one’s partner every day.

“It’s wrong to think that money can buy love. Small gifts even when there is no occasion, surprise dinners out once in a while, serve to cement a relationship more than a lavish once in a year Valentine’s treat! It does not make sense to spend more than 30,000 on a Valentine day when your net worth is less than Sh100, 000.

Taking an ‘emergency’ bank loan to spend it for a single day like Valentine is also not a wise idea because it will tremendously affect one’s financial future.”


You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.