It's almost Valentine's Day, and a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love...and some long-stemmed roses and perhaps some jewelry.
If your thoughts are turning to romance before Valentine's Day on Sunday, be prepared -- you'll be paying more.
LPL Financial tracked the cost of four typical Valentine's Day gift categories and found inflation rearing its ugly head. According to LPL's Valentine's Day Index, the prices of those gifts increased by 1.3%, which is faster than the overall rate of inflation.
"Dinner and a movie is probably one of the few items that has consistently posted price gains," said Anthony Valeri, investment strategist at LPL Financial. "That increase is up over 3%. Going out on the town is definitely the most expensive item in terms of year over year price gains."
LPL includes the cost of a babysitter in calculating expenses for a night out. A better bet may be to stay home. LPL priced the costs of a night in using four common gifts: candy, flowers, a home-cooked dinner, and a bottle of bubbly or wine. The cost for staying home rose just slightly in 2015, mainly due to higher food costs.
However, for the big-ticket spenders, there's some good news -- jewelry prices have fallen. "If you look at data from the National Retail Federation, consumers are starting to spend a little bit more on jewelry. That trend started last year. I think you might see more of it this year," said Valeri. "If you are looking to purchase a big-ticket item, the Tiffany (TIF - Get Report) sort of gift for Valentine's Day, this might be the year to do it." Valeri noted that precious metals prices, on a yearly basis, are down.
The Valentine's Day index also includes travel costs, which have decreased in recent years. "Airline ticket prices are down on average," said Valeri, who noted that prices fell 3% in 2015. "We probably would have seen bigger declines if it wasn't for the costs of jet fuel, which has remained somewhat stubbornly high." The travel component of the index also includes hotel room and restaurant costs, which did rise last year.
According to the National Retail Federation, a consumer will spend on average $146.84 on Valentine's Day gifts, or a total of $19.7 billion. That'a a whole lotta love.