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Say "I Love You" Like a Fool

It's high time that lovers the world over embraced an alternative to Valentine's Day standbys of ho-hum roses and impersonal boxes of chocolates. Really, what better way to say "I love you" than balancing the checkbook for your honey without being asked?

So that might not be the most poetic declaration of adoration, but in the real world of love and money, it's not a bad way to show that you care.

The romantics at Money Management International contend that most women feel that real romance comes from the heart, and not the wallet. (I don't even want to know where men claim real romance comes from.) They came up with 15 ways to say "I love you." I've picked my top five, and provided a few practical add-ons. Forgive my alarmist nature, but better safe than sorry, lovebirds.

  1. Make your beloved a macaroni necklace and present it in a jewelry box. Enclose a note that says, "When I am with you, I feel like a kid again." Then partake in an activity little kids do for fun -- roller skating, bike riding, swinging as high as you can on the swing set, a trip to the zoo. But before donning your daredevil attire, make sure you have adequate disability insurance. After all, the chances of becoming disabled before dying are 3 in 10.

  2. Head down to your local hardware store and have a key made and engraved with your initials. Present the "key to your heart" to your loved one. While you're at it, make sure your beloved has a key to the safe-deposit box -- or knows which sock drawer you keep it in -- so s/he can get to the important papers, should an emergency arise.

  3. Make a special photo album of your most cherished times together, with notes on each page as to why that moment was important to you. While you're at it, collect snapshots of your valuable belongings for insurance purposes. Then store them in the aforementioned safe-deposit box, along with a copy of your insurance papers.

  4. Create a scavenger hunt for your loved one, with stops at special places the two of you have in common. As long as you're in the mood for a hunt, you might as well gather all the paperwork you need to do your taxes. When you present the bundle, we guarantee your Sig-O's heart will go a-flutter.

  5. Create a homemade coupon book for gifts, such as one free, uninterrupted afternoon of golf/football or one evening away from the kids. Show your long-term commitment by including a few coupons that vow to create an emergency stash and a solid plan for your retirement together.

Dayana Yochim is the author ofCouples & Cash: How To Handle Money With Your Honey, which is chock-full of creative ways to prevent finances from frazzling your relationship.

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