Psst. Mother’s Day is Sunday and she wants a gift. Show her love without going into debt.

Psst. Mother’s Day is Sunday and she wants a gift. Show her love without going into debt.


Mother’s Day is Sunday, and if you’re a mom, don’t say you don’t want anything. And if you’ve got a mom, don’t believe that she doesn’t want a gift. 

Don’t skimp on buying your mom a present, but don’t go into debt doing it, said two experts in marketing and behavioral finance. 

Does Mom really want a gift for Mother’s Day?

Moms will always say they don’t want or need anything, said Meir Statman, a professor of finance at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University.

“Don’t believe her,” said Statman, the author of a new book, A Wealth of Well-Being: A Holistic Approach to Behavioral Finance. In the book, Statman recounts one man whose mom loves the opera but always buys the cheap tickets. So he buys her better seats.

Statman said treating your mom is never a bad move.

“I wish my mom were here. I would say thank you many times” with Mother’s Day gifts, said Statman of his late mother.

“When people think about their mom and when their moms are gone, the last thing they’re going to regret is having spent more money on their mom,” he said.

When moms say they don’t want anything for Mother’s Day, “it’s a trap,” said Lauren Beitelspacher, a professor in the marketing division of Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

“I’m a mom and I actually just saw this video on TikTok that was like every year moms say they don’t want anything and then every year the family honors that and she’s mad,” said Beitelspacher, the mother of elementary-school-aged children, who admits she used to do the same thing.

“Finally, my husband is like ‘Just set us all up for success and tell us what you want.’ And that’s what I’ve done and we’re all happier,” she said.

Beitelspacher said she also feels more pressure to get her mom a better Mother’s Day gift now that she’s a mother herself and realizes she shortchanged her on previous holidays and also appreciates her more.

How much do people spend on Mother’s Day?

Mother’s Day is big business. Consumers will spend $33.5 billion this year on their mothers, with an average of $254.04 on gifts and celebrations, according to The National Retail Federation’s annual consumer survey. That’s the second-highest in the history of the poll, following last year’s record $35.7 billion or $274.02 per person spent on mom. The biggest spenders are expected to be those between the ages of 35 and 44, who are budgeting $345.75, according to the survey.

Eighty-four percent of U.S. adults are expected to celebrate the holiday.

Most (59%) are shopping specifically for a mother or stepmother, while 22% are shopping for a wife and 12% for a daughter. The most popular gifts, similar to previous years, are flowers (74%), greeting cards (74%) and special outings such as dinner or brunch (59%).  

Jewelry is still popular among gifts, with consumers expected to spend a total of $7 billion. Special outings will cost $5.9 billion and consumers will spend $3.5 billion on electronics. Consumers are expected to spend $3.2 billion on flowers, while spending on greeting cards is expected to reach $1.1 billion.

More money is spent for moms on Mother’s Day than dads on Father’s Day.

Consumers were expected to spend $22.9 billion and an average of $196.23 per dad, according to last year’s National Retail Federation survey.

Should you go into debt for Mother’s Day? 

While the annual retail survey says the average person is spending more than $200 on Mom, you don’t have to and many mothers don’t want you to spend that much, said Beitelspacher. But taking a family of four or more out to eat on a holiday could easily top $200 in some cities, she said.

There’s still ways to show your appreciation if you’re on a tight budget, said Beitelspacher. Cook your mom a homemade meal instead of taking her out to a brunch, she said.

Or find an experience to do together. One year, Beitelspacher, who lives in a different state than her mother, bought her flowers and also an online flower-arranging class they could do together.

“There’s ways to get creative,” she said. “If you don’t have a lot of money, your mom doesn’t want you to go into debt. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be thoughtful and meaningful”

Mom wants something that shows you care, she said. Time is important, too. Beitelspacher said while she gave her husband and kids ideas for physical gifts for the holiday, she also asked for the family to go on a hike on Mother’s Day – and for no one to argue during the trek.

But it’s also OK to splurge, said Statman.

People can give up on a few things they buy themselves, like a few dinners out, to spend that money instead on their mother for Mother’s Day, he said.

Should Grandmother’s get a different day?

An Indiana mother’s TikTok video admitting she doesn’t celebrate her mother or mother-in-law on Mother’s Day, but does so on a different day so she can enjoy the holiday herself is going viral – and garnering a lot of responses on both sides of the issue.

Grandma Day? Mom goes viral for ‘Mother’s Day rules’ suggesting grandmas be celebrated a different day

“I think that’s brilliant,” said Beitelspacher of the separate Grandma’s Day idea. But there’s also potentially a way to balance expectations and honor both mothers and grandmothers on the same day, she said.

Mother’s Day is a hard holiday for some

It’s also important to acknowledge that this is a difficult holiday for some people, she said. Some may have moms who have died, or are estranged from their mothers. Still others who are trying to become mothers also feel pain on the holiday, Beitelspacher said.

Should pet moms get Mother’s Day gifts? 

More people do seem to be celebrating being pet moms, said Beitelspacher. A lot of women, especially those who don’t have children, take being a pet mom very seriously, she said.

“If you’re engaging and nurturing your maternal sense, I think that’s something important to be celebrated,” she said.

Mother’s Day is continuing to evolve, Beitelspacher said, as families all look different, and include families with two moms.

“It’s important that people get to celebrate in a way that makes sense for them,” she said.

Betty Lin-Fisher is a consumer reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at or follow her on X, Facebook or Instagram @blinfisher. Sign up for our free The Daily Money newsletter, which will include consumer news on Fridays,

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