03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

How To Stay In The Red For Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is upon us, a time when we are encouraged to open up our hearts, and our wallets.

While your honey may be coveting Balenciaga's (PPR) latest it-bag, the $22,500 yellow crocodile weekender, your budget may be more like dinner for two at Red Lobster (DRI). Either way this year Americans will shell-out more on Valentine's Day than ever before: $122.98 on average, according to the National Retail Federation. Nationwide, that's more than $17 billion.

That may sound like expensive already but for people with credit card debt-and the national median outstanding balance is $8,333, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants-the amount you pay for that kid-free meal of lobster tail and champagne could easily balloon into four-figures by the time you pay off your bill. That is why financial planners warn against spending big this Valentine's if you are in debt.

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