Monday, February 15, 2016

Let’s talk about Valentine’s Day

What can you say about Valentine’s Day?  Hallelujah, if you’re a florist or jeweler, or own a restaurant, candy store or card shop. You’ve just had one of your busiest and most profitable weeks of the year.  In my opinion, the hype surrounding Valentine’s Day is one of the great economic stimulus programs of all time.

As I kiddingly tell friends and clients, it’s probably more successful than any stimulus plan our government has ever come up with.

There’s no question that a lot of men spend a lot of money to show their special someone how much they care.  A lesser amount, I’m guessing, is spent by women on their special guy.

But, from a financial perspective, what about the other 364 days of the year?  When all the hype fades away and Cupid goes into hibernation, a lot of household problems revolve around money issues.

It’s easy to speculate that more income would mean fewer arguments over money.  But my many years of experience lead me to believe otherwise.

For example, in my career I have worked with a quite a few high-income earners who, surprisingly, save very little of their income.  It seems that no matter how much they make, they manage to spend just a little bit more.

Quite often, one of the spouses tries to live within a budget, but he or she becomes frustrated over the spending habits of the other.  Unfortunately, many marriages have fallen apart over financially related problems.

For whatever reason, couples often just don’t have the ability or desire to discuss financial problems.  I’ve even seen situations where one of the spouses refuses to acknowledge that a problem even exists.

Valentine’s Day is one of the few days when financial problems are put on the back burner, but couples still need to talk about money.

From my experience in working with families, there is generally one spouse that is the financial dominator of the household.
You might think it tends to be the husband, but it’s just as often the wife.  But, whoever is financially dominant, he or she needs to bring the less dominant spouse into the equation.  It’s called teamwork.

Both spouses need to understand the big picture.  That means each needs to know how much they can spend and how much they need to save.  And in arriving at their financial goals, both parties need to be involved in the discussion and the decision.
Financially related goals include such items as college funding for kids, dollars set aside for vacations and retirement, plus every other aspect of running the household.

Money can be used to express love, but unfortunately, I have seen relationships fall apart where money is a driving issue.  The problem might be a lack of money or the spending habits of one of the spouses.  Occasionally, both spouses have bad money habits.

What’s my advice for celebrating Valentine’s Day?  Get on the same page financially.  Talk about money.  Talk about spending.  Discuss savings and financially related goals.

It’s true that discussion often leads to compromise, but if that compromise leads to financial harmony, it’s certainly better than a marriage that falls apart.  So Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all.  I hope I’ve given you something to talk about.

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