If you're reading this, then it's likely you're doing one -- or more -- of these three things:
- Slapping your forehead against your computer monitor and Googling "last-minute Valentine's Day gifts in [insert your city]."
- Clicking around the Web, while on hold with a florist whose hand is cupped over the receiver while she says in a very audible stage whisper, "Get this -- someone's calling to see if we have any roses left!"
- Experiencing a moment of panic as it dawns on you that, yup, you're that poor schlub who only now realizes what day it is.
Need help out of the schlubhouse on this holiest of lovers' days? What better way to say "I love you" than tackling a boring household financial task for your honey without being asked?
No, this is not a setup
Granted, reconciling bank statements, updating your homeowner's and auto insurance coverage, or making an appointment with an estate attorney to finally write your wills are not conventional ways of declaring one's adoration. But they should be.
In the real world of love and money, taking on those tasks will solidify your relationship a lot more than wilted roses and a generic box of chocolates. (Plus, there's no bigger turnoff than a desperate Valentine's Day gift. And at this point, anything you pick up at the 7-Eleven is an obvious panic purchase.)
If your significant other fails to find the words to express his or her thanks for your thoughtfulness and color-coded financial filing system, simply explain that with money issues driving so many couples to divorce court, you wanted to do something to ensure that money doesn't mess up your relationship.
Until this custom catches on, you'll have to come up with your own Hallmark sentiment to say it more elegantly. Or, you can resort to bribery. If your better half isn't interested in bonding lovingly over the warm glow of your finances, lure him or her in with an enticing reward. Talk to each other about your ideal future -- what are the things that your family can achieve with a little more planning? A better couch? Wiping out all credit card debt? Paying cash for your next vacation? Starting a college savings plan?
When you explore the possibilities that well-managed finances could afford, your reluctant partner is more likely to become much more excited about your Valentine's Day sentiment.
4 Valentine's Day gifts that keep on giving
It's difficult to gift wrap financial peace of mind. But with a little creativity, you can show your beloved how your money management-related gift really does come from the heart.
Here are some ways to make mundane financial tasks more romantic. (And, sure, throwing in a hand-picked bouquet may help get the point across.)
Start planning that second honeymoon: Spend a couple of hours rustling up extra money to put toward a romantic getaway. Where to look first? There are many financial advantages to being a twosome. You can save money at work, at the bank, on your bills, and by being able to justify the jumbo bag of Cheetos. (You're shopping for two, after all!) If you haven't looked lately, you might have missed potential savings opportunities. Start digging for dollars with this 60-Second Guide to Cashing In on Coupledom.
Have a funny money heart-to-heart: Communication is key to dealing with matters of finance. No surprise there. But there's no reason you have to make your conversations clinical. In fact, as you present your beloved with the reconciled bank statement or the stack of organized tax-related paperwork, light a candle, uncork the champagne, and get ready to reminisce about who paid for your first date and place bets on how much money your honey has in his wallet right this very moment. That's right, it's time to play the money version of the Newlywed Game!
Earn your angel wings while you're still around to get the accolades: I hate to bring up such a downer topic as we approach this lovey-dovey day, but if you signed up for the "happily ever after" part of wedded bliss, you can't avoid the "'til death do you part" part. Show your partner that you've got their back for the rest of their life by getting your affairs in order now. Then make a toast to the decades from here on out during which you can tease each other about changing your wills. Here are the 5 Things Your Honey Has To Know -- a rundown of all the essential documents every person should have in place.
Skip straight to the make-up kissing: Who needs the hand-wringing, pouting, resentment, and hushed calls to your respective mothers to complain about your partner's latest bone-headed money move? Avoid everyday bickering altogether by establishing some "rules" that give you each some financial autonomy, as well as guidelines for making good spending decisions for the family as a whole. For example, pick a dollar amount you can both blow each week without having to run your purchases by each other. Set up decision-making buckets in which you agree to consult with each other and come to a spending or saving decision before making a move. For more, see How To Divorce-Proof Your Finances.