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Personal Finance Reports

A Financial Comparison of Mother’s Day & Father’s Day

Updated Apr 06, 2023   |   9-min read

Whether they paid for your education, drove you around countless times, cleaned up the messes you left behind, or did all three and then some, most of us are quite indebted to our parents. 

That is why we have both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day – two days out of 365 that are meant for us to show appreciation and give back to our beloved parents. 

With Mother’s Day recently passed and Father’s Day this Sunday, there was no better timing for LendEDU to evaluate how children perceive each of the special days from a financial standpoint. 

Surveying 500 respondents who said they had a mother and father (or a male and a female guardian) while growing up and who are still alive today, we uncovered some pretty interesting trends.

Some key findings include: 

  • On average, our respondents expected to spend $75.02 on a Mother’s Day gift in 2018
  • On average, our respondents expected to spend $74.13 on a Father’s Day gift in 2018
  • Mother’s Day was generally perceived as the more important of the two days, but the majority of respondents were in favor of combining the two days into one “Parents’ Day,” which has already existed in the U.S. since 1994 and occurs on the fourth Sunday of July

Full Survey Results

(The following questions were administered to 500 American respondents who were selected at random after stating they grew up with a mother and father (or a male and a female guardian) who were still alive at the time of polling)

1. Do you plan on spending money or getting a gift for your mother or guardian for Mother’s Day this year?

a. 91.4 percent of respondents answered “yes”

b. 8.6 percent of respondents answered “no”

2. (Asked only to those who answered “B” to Q1) Why are you choosing not to spend any money or get a gift?

a. 23.26 percent of respondents answered “We do not talk or we are not close”

b. 34.88 percent of respondents answered “I do not have enough money of my own”

c. 27.91 percent of respondents answered “My mother or guardian does not want a present”

d. 13.95 percent of respondents answered “I do not celebrate Mother’s Day”

3. (Asked only to those who answered “A” to Q1) How much do you plan on spending on Mother’s Day?

The average respondent that intended on getting a Mother’s Day gift expected to spend $75.02.

4. Do you plan on spending money or getting a gift for your father or guardian for Father’s Day this year?

a. 85.6 percent of respondents answered “yes”

b. 14.4 percent of respondents answered “no”

5. (Asked only to those who answered “B” to Q4) Why are you choosing to not spend any money or get a gift?

a. 38.89 percent of respondents answered “We do not talk or we are not close”

b. 18.06 percent of respondents answered “I do not have enough money of my own”

c. 23.61 percent of respondents answered “My father or guardian does not want a present”

d. 19.44 percent of respondents answered “I do not celebrate Father’s Day”

6. (Asked only to those who answered “A” to Q4) How much do you plan on spending for Father’s Day?

The average respondent that intended on getting a Father’s Day gift expected to spend $74.13.

7.​ If you were a father or mother, would you expect to receive a gift from your children when they can afford a present?

a. 48.8 percent of respondents answered “yes”

b. 20 percent of respondents answered “no”

c. 31.2 percent of respondents answered “I do not care either way”

8. In your opinion, which day is more important?

a. 24.2 percent of respondents answered “Mother’s Day”

b. 1.8 percent of respondents answered “Father’s Day”

c. 74 percent of respondents answered “Neither, they are equally important”

9. Would you be OK with the elimination of Father’s Day?

a. 13.4 percent of respondents answered “yes”

b. 73.4 percent of respondents answered “no”

c. 13.2 percent of respondents answered “I do not care either way”

10. Would you be OK with the elimination of Mother’s Day?

a. 8.8 percent of respondents answered “yes”

b. 81.2 percent of respondents answered “no”

c. 10 percent of respondents answered “I do not care either way”

11. Would you be open to combining Mother’s Day and Father’s Day into one holiday: Parents’ Day?

a. 61.2 percent of respondents answered “yes”

b. 38.8 percent of respondents answered “no”


Observations & Analysis

Mother’s Day & Father’s Day Gift Spending About the Same in 2018

The most common way to show appreciation for one’s mother or father is simply by purchasing a gift, whether it be a bouquet of roses, tickets to a ball game, or a dinner for two.

Our survey found that although the vast majority of respondents would be getting gifts for both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, a slightly higher number would be going shopping for mom. 

Despite a greater number of sons and daughters buying a gift for mom and not dad, the average amount expected to be spent on gifts for Mother’s Day was only 89 cents higher than the average amount expected to be spent on gifts for Father’s Day.

Taking the time and money to purchase a present for mom or dad (or both!) can really go a long way in showing how much one’s parents mean to them. Judging from the average gift expense according to our respondents, it appears that children are spending the perfect amount of money on these special days. Not too much so as to break the bank, but enough to show that effort and care was put into the process.

Ian Atkins, Chief Financial Analyst at New York City business advisory firm FitSmallBusiness, offered the following advice when shopping for mom and dad’s special days: “If your budget allows for you to splurge on a spa day or long-stemmed roses, that’s great! If your budget is tight, don’t worry – you don’t have to be careless with your money to make your mother or father feel treasured.”

“Make the focus of your celebration about spending time with them,” Atkins said. “Use that time to communicate how important they are to you, what you’ve learned from them, and what you admire about them. It doesn’t cost you a dime and will mean the world to them.”


According to Respondents, Mother’s Day Generally Perceived as More Important

While we like to think Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are celebrated equally, data gathered from our poll participants seemed to indicate that the former was slightly more important than the latter.

​As noted earlier, more respondents were planning to get a gift for their mother or guardian on Mother’s Day, than those who were anticipating getting a present for their father or guardian on Father’s Day.

Statistics from other questions ​also backed up this line of thinking. 

For example, ​24.2 percent of survey respondents thought Mother’s Day was the more important day of the two, while only 1.8 percent indicated that they believed Father’s Day was more important. The healthy majority, 74 percent, opted with the wise answer and said both days were equally important. 

​Further, when respondents were asked if they would be OK with the elimination of either Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, more of them were fine with eliminating the day for dads. 

Shanalee Sharboneau, an author whose books tie directly into Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, notices a difference in her business on each of the holidays: “When Mother’s Day hits, it’s like Christmas time for me. Since I created the awarded children’s series ‘My Family Loves Me,’ the first two books ‘My Mama Loves Me: I’m Her Little Boy’ and ‘My Mama Loves Me: I’m Her Little Girl‘ sell at an unbelievable rate.”

But on Father’s Day, ​Sharboneau sees things slow down when compared to Mother’s Day. “Between interviews, press releases, and appearances, [Mother’s Day] is my busiest season of the year, trumping Christmas. When Father’s Day rolls around the month after, it’s quiet, with few speeches, requests, appearances, and sales of the other books below.”


Consolidate Both Days Into…Parents’ Day?

In a light end to this survey, we asked respondents if they would be open to the idea of consolidating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day into one single holiday known as “Parents’ Day.”

Believe it or not, the majority of them were supportive of the idea.​

Whether they are looking to save money by buying one gift for both parents or cut down on travel plans, nearly two-thirds of poll participants would be open to the idea of replacing both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with Parents’ Day. Interestingly, Parents’ Day, despite limited notoriety, has already existed in the U.S. since 1994 and occurs on the fourth Sunday of July. 

Unless some drastic changes come to the calendar and Parents’ Day usurps both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, kids should not get their hopes up, and instead should start planning for that Father’s Day gift this Sunday. 


Methodology

All data featured in this report originates from an online poll commissioned by LendEDU and conducted online by polling company Pollfish. In total, 500 respondents from the U.S. who stated that they had both a mother and father (or both a male and a female guardian) who were still alive participated in this survey. The desired respondents were found via screener question. If respondents fit the desired qualifications, they were then selected at random from Pollfish’s user panel of over 100 million. This survey ran over a two-day span, starting on April 12, 2018, and ending on April 13, 2018. Respondents were asked to answer each question truthfully and to the best of their ability. ​

See more of LendEDU’s Research