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How Much Do Americans Spend on St. Patrick's Day?

More than just Irish eyes will be smiling this Sunday. This year's consumer survey on St. Patrick's Day, conducted by the National Retail Federation, shows 133 million Americans plan to celebrate the holiday this year. For many, it won't go beyond putting on a shirt colored in some shade of green. Consumers won't celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a budget that compares to Christmas, but no holiday spending should be taken lightly.

In fact, Americans will spend a total of $4.7 billion dollars this Sunday. Of course, not every shopper plans to budget the same way. Who buys and what is bought directly relates to how big--or small--a celebrant's budget will be.

Men spend the most. Men may not spend a majority of consumer dollars, but when they reach for their wallets, they go big. Compared to any other consumer demographic looking to make a purchase for St. Patrick's Day this year, men have the biggest budget, with an average planned expense of about $45. Women, on the other hand, are only looking to spend around $32.

Young spenders, big spenders. Next to men, young adults take second place as consumers with the lightest wallets after St. Patrick's Day. Those aged 25 to 34 plan on grabbing a little less than $45 in clothing, food and decorations. Spending patterns show that as people get older, they spend less and less on the Irish Holiday--bottoming out at about $31 for those 65 and older.

Popular ways to spend. While consumer demographics give us interesting insight into who has the largest budget, it's really the ways we celebrate that impact our holiday spending. It's easy to agree that a quiet meal at home will likely cost less than a trip to the bar for dinner and drinks. This is apparent in why men and young adults spend more on St. Patrick's Day.

The National Retail Survey provided a breakdown on how consumer demographics planned to show their Irish pride. Men and young adults were almost twice as likely to head to the bar than women and seasoned citizens. The same applied to those planning a special party. The percentages reversed for those planning a celebratory meal at home.

How to keep from raiding your wallet. There's no big secret to ensuring your wallet remains un-pillaged this Sunday. Set a budget ahead of time and stick to it. If you are headed out on the town, you can avoid temptation by taking cash and leaving the credit cards at home.

A quiet meal at home would probably cost less, but there is no reason why you can't have a fun night out on a small budget. So long as you plan ahead, you can have a great time--without breaking any piggy banks.

JP is a writer for the money blog 20's Finances. He is an MBA and the financial officer for a nonprofit organization.

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