Did You Buy A Father’s Day Gift – And A Little Something For Yourself Too? 

 June 18, 2021

By  Ted McLyman

Welcome to Behavioral Finance Friday

President Nixon declared the third Sunday in June as a day to "reflect on the importance of fatherhood." Here are a few fun facts compiled by Andrew Lisa a few days ago and posted at GOBankRates.com.

Economists estimate that in 2020, Father's Day spending soared to a record high of $17 billion — but even that is small potatoes compared to what's coming in 2021. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans are planning to dig even deeper for dad this year to the tune of $20.1 billion — another record broken, this time by more than $3 billion. The average person will spend $174 per paternal present — about $26 more than last year — with 3 out of 4 consumers planning to celebrate Father's Day in one way or another. Below are the top ten gifts.

  • Greeting Cards: 59%
  • Clothing: 49%
  • Special Outing: 46%
  • Gift Cards: 45%
  • Personal Care: 28%
  • Books/CDs: 26%
  • Electronics: 25%
  • Home Improvement/Gardening Tools: 24%
  • Tools or Appliances: 24%
  • Sporting Goods: 22%

Father's Day, and most national holidays and days of recognition, are now big business. And you are primed to spend every time.


Have you noticed a secret conspiracy among the greeting card, candy, and retail industries to guilt us into buying something for someone about every six weeks throughout the year? Check a calendar. There seem to be more national "spending events" than ever before. And if there's a gap, some marketing genius invents a new reason to spend.

Granted, I love all the new flavors and colors of M&Ms  that seem to arrive in sequence event after event. But, the conspiracy is much more insidious than selling a few million pounds of candy.

Retailers have figured out that our feeling-brain controls our spending. So they do everything possible to make spending automatic. That’s why we usually buy something else when we shop for a card, candy, or gift. And all it takes is a subtle nonconscious nudge. Now, do you get it? Where you spend your money is designed to make spending easy.

Last year I bought Dad cookies, and he loved them. But, I also ordered some for myself – and a few other things the masters of the web seemed to know I wanted. My dopamine-laced brain is a sucker for great marketing. But, after three books on spending behavior, I should know better. However, sometimes you can’t put a price on a handmade, all-natural chocolate chip cookie warmed to perfection in a microwave oven.

Let me ask you a few questions about your spending.

  • Have you ever run into a store to buy something inexpensive and spent more than you had planned?
  • Have you ever bought something for yourself while shopping for someone else?
  • Have you ever bought something for someone, and you're not sure why you should but did anyway?
  • Have you ever bought something for someone because it was "expected," even though you didn't want to?

These are not trick questions. There is no right or wrong answer. What's happening is you, and I are behaving very human with our money.

How you think and feel about money is complex. It's a function of your biology money, beliefs, and culture. And to make all this more interesting, you generally don't think about your spending – most spending is 95 - 99% unconscious.

Now the tricky question. Does your spending support what you want out of life - your long-term money values? Again, there is no correct answer, and don't judge. But, here's the kicker, will the way you make spending decisions today get you what you value most in the future?

My point is that your money temperament is unique to you. It is unconscious. And you need to know what it is. You know I'm right. Why? Because you have money stories - good, bad, and ugly.

The problem is not making sure you buy the perfect gift. The real issue is discovering and understanding your Money Temperament. Why? Because your spending behavior can get in the way of what’s most important about money to you - family, retirement, charitable giving, and the like.


Accept that you are human and that you will always behave human with your money. 

  • Your money behavior is a reflection of your money beliefs and culture.
  • 95 to 99% of your spending is automatic, nonconscious, and emotional. 
  • Know that you have a natural desire to conform to your cultural and social norms, and spend will spend accordingly.
  • Discover your natural Money Temperament, manage your behavior - not your money. 


Discovering your Money Temperament will unleash your Money SuperPowers and make you a better spender. And you will reap the emotional and economic benefits of Behavioral Financial Wellness. 


Understanding your relationship with money and creating a one-size-fits-YOU money mindset is easy to do. The sooner you start, the better the outcome. 


Think about, or better, write down your answers to the questions below.

  • Look carefully at your checkbook and your calendar. Then, focus on where you spend your time and money. Do you see any patterns? What did you discover about your Money Temperament and spending behavior?
  • What is your relationship with money? Based on your spending behavior, what's important to you? How's that make you feel?
  • Is it time for a change? Or, is it business as usual?
  • What's your plan? It's your choice.

Meet Ted

Ted McLyman, Author, MPA, MS

Author | Entrepreneur | Business Owner | Speaker | Trainer | Lt Col, USMC (Ret) | Ironman Triathlete

Over 30 years of award-winning experience, helping individuals and organizations achieve peak performance.

Founder MyApexx Behavioral Solutions Group and Pathfinder Coaches Academy; Director, Behavioral Finance, and Advisory Board Member at www.DreamSmartAcademy.com; retired financial advisor/agent; economics instructor, US Naval Academy; Aide to the Under Secretary of the Navy for Financial Management; Head, Marine Corp Training Management Division; Commander, USMC Financial Management School; artillery officer; Executive Office, Battle Assessment Team, Operation Desert Storm.(www.tedmclyman.com www.pathfindercoaches.com @tedmclyman)

BA Social Relations, Colgate University; MA Public Administration, Pepperdine University; and MS Performance Technology, Boise State University.

Authored three books on behavioral finance, money temperament, and spending behavior. Ted's author site: www.TedMcLyman.com

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