Tips | February 4, 2015

Four tips for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a popular time to show affection for a loved one. But are the inflated prices for dining out and buying flowers worth it?

The basic economic concept of supply and demand can drive prices up when many people want red roses on the same day. In his blog post, Ian Bright suggests celebrating the day after on 15 February when demand crashes.

Here are some more tips: 
Spending time counts too
Taking the time to write a personal message, cook dinner, make a card or gather meaningful photographs might be as gratefully received as an expensive dinner or bunch of flowers. Why? It requires the investment of time and effort. According to professor Christopher Coyne in a video on The Economics of Valentine’s Day, investing time “signals” (in economics terms) a level of affection for the other person.

Watch out for menu tricks
If a dinner out at an expensive restaurant is part of your Valentine’s Day plan, watch out for tricks that can encourage diners to splash out even more. One is “anchoring” – the inclusion of a very pricey item on the menu that serves to make other options seem cheap in comparison. It might be an expensive bottle of wine or, as spotted by Priceless author William Poundstone, a $69 hotdog in a New York restaurant.

Employ a menu trick of your own
On the topic of eating and drinking, the mere thought that the wine we taste is expensive (even if it’s not) has been shown to increase the enjoyment of it. Romantics on a budget might consider decanting their discount tipple into a label-free carafe – a move that is not dishonest about the drink’s legacy but that may increase the joy of the experience.

Smile, love boosts happiness
Happiness economists estimate that being married – for the average person – raises happiness by as much as a pay rise of £50,000 (€60,000) a year, perhaps making the price of a bunch of roses seem small in comparison. Those without a partner this Valentine’s Day can bear in mind that many other factors boost happiness as well, including spending time with friends and family, being healthy and having a job.


eZonomics team
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