Showing our mothers some much deserved appreciation is the sort of thing we're told we're supposed to do year-round. But if there's one day not to take for granted, it's Mother's Day.
In case you haven't marked your calendar, Mother's Day falls on May 13 this year, which means you still have a little bit of time to order flowers, purchase a gift, and find just the right card to mark the occasion. But before you go blowing your budget to shower your mom with all that love, you may want to explore some lower-cost options for celebrating the woman who gave you life.
Mother's Day spending: Appropriate or out of control?
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans will spend a collective $23.1 billion on Mother's Day this year. On an individual level, that breaks down to $180 per consumer.
Where will that money go? As per the NRF, Americans will spend:
- $4.6 billion on jewelry
- $4.4 billion on dinner or brunch
- $2.6 billion on flowers
- $2.5 billion on gift cards
- $2.1 billion on clothing
- $2.1 billion on consumer electronics
- $1.8 billion on personal services, such as spas
- $956 million on housewares or gardening tools
- $813 million on greeting cards
- $494 million on books or music
Clearly, there's a host of ways to spend money on Mother's Day, and $180, on the one hand, isn't exactly outrageous. But if you're among the 39% of Americans with zero in the bank, it's more than you can afford. The same holds true if you're part of the 57% of Americans with less than $1,000 in savings.
The problem with indulging mom on Mother's Day is that most consumers aren't in a position to spend anywhere close to $180 -- not when they should be focused on building their emergency funds and paying down debt. Speaking of which, the average American household is currently carrying a $7,136 debt balance. Therefore, if you're planning to charge your Mother's Day treats on a credit card, you'll end up digging yourself further into a hole.
Don't compromise your finances this May
Natural as it may be to want to do the best for your mom this Mother's Day, if you don't have the money on hand to pay for a fancy gift or have the money but need it for more pressing purposes like fixing your car or making rent, then you're better off finding low-cost alternatives for showing your love. For one thing, you can replace that restaurant brunch with a home-cooked meal. Doing so will allow you to pull it off for roughly a quarter of what you'd spend dining out. Additionally, consider skipping the jewelry or clothing and replacing it with something homemade -- perhaps a nice family photo inside a modest frame.
There are numerous options you can play around with, but the point is not to stretch your budget when you're on shaky ground financially. If you're open with your mother about your money-related woes, she'll not only understand why she's not getting an extravagant gift, but probably insist that you not spend a dime.
Even if your financial situation isn't so dire -- say, you have a solid three months' worth of living expenses in your bank account and can afford to buy some gifts without resorting to debt -- it still pays to explore your options for celebrating Mother's Day on the cheap. Remember, the point of the day is to show your appreciation for your mom, so rather than focus on shoes, gadgets, and flowers, you can give her the gift of your time.
Spend the entire day catching up and enjoying each other's company, and if you don't live close enough to do so, carve out the time for a lengthy phone or video call. It's a far better bet than spending money you can't afford to part with and giving your mother yet another reason to worry about you.