Tag: Valentine’s Day

 

This Valentine’s Day, Why Not Have a ‘Money Date’?

By Susan Shain

Got a Valentine this year? Is it kinda, you know, serious?

Whether you’re about to move in together or have been married for decades, it’s time to break out all the stops and schedule a date complete with candles, chocolate, and an intimate conversation about…money. 

While it might not sound like the most romantic topic in the world, discussing finances with your boo can be a winning play for both your relationship and your wallet. 

Here’s everything you need to know about “money dates” — and how to turn them into a habit that helps your bank account bloom just like your love. 

What the heck is a ‘money date’?

A money date is an occasion for you and your partner to sit down and review your entire financial picture: what’s coming in, what’s going out, what you owe, and what you’d like to accomplish in the future. 

Renowned financial expert Farnoosh Torabi recommends having your first money date when you’re starting to get serious. When she and her now-husband were on the verge of moving in together, for instance, they went out for a margarita and dished on their incomes, outstanding debts, and credit scores. 

While that’s a great start, it doesn’t need to end there. You can continue having regular money dates for as long as your relationship lasts. 

Aditi Shekar, founder and CEO of Zeta, a financial budgeting app for couples, and co-host of The Money Date podcast, has had recurring money dates with her husband for five years. It all started when they moved in together and received a few credit card bills that were much higher than expected. 

“That got us talking!” she says. 

“From there, we realized that if we didn’t schedule time to have those conversations, we wouldn’t have them — or we’d have them at the wrong time — and money arguments would arise.” 

Shekar and her husband began having money dates once a week, and to this day, still have them once a month. 

Why money dates are so clutch

Money dates come with a myriad of benefits: 

  • They prompt you to discuss your financial dreams, which will help guide how you earn, spend, and save your money. 
  • They allow you and your partner to check in with each other regularly, so you can feel like you’re working as a team toward your mutual goals. 
  • They carve out a space to talk calmly and openly about money, reducing the likelihood of fights — and the likelihood of financial infidelity, which affects a stunning 20% of relationships

Choncé Maddox, a financial blogger at My Debt Epiphany, has been having money dates with her husband for two years. 

“They create a safe atmosphere for us to talk about our financial goals and progress, share our dreams for the future, and hold each other accountable,” she says.

4 steps to rewarding money dates

Convinced that you and your SO should be having money dates? (Good, you should be.) 

Here’s how to get started. 

1. Schedule a time to talk

If you don’t regularly discuss finances, asking your partner out on a money date might be the toughest part. You’ll need to broach the money topic delicately, framing it as a way you’re both going to get ahead — and not as a judgment on their spending or past.

“Present it as a fun opportunity for you both to get on the same page and work on your finances as a team,” Maddox says. 

When Maddox first approached her husband about having money dates, for example, she suggested going to a dessert shop because he loves ice cream. It worked: To this day, they still have weekly financial check-ins, plus a “big overview of everything” at the beginning of each month.

2. Figure out your agenda

Once you’ve nailed down a time and place for your date, you should decide what you’re going to talk about, so you both have time to prepare. 

“Pick two or three things you want to cover,” Shekar says. 

“If you’re feeling a lot of financial stress in your relationship, focus on the areas that are causing that.” 

Here are some ideas: 

  • Cash flow (how much is coming in vs. how much is going out)
  • Short- and long-term financial goals
  • Progress toward paying off debts
  • Ways to cut spending and increase savings
  • Adjustments to your budget (or the creation of one!)
  • Upcoming expenses or windfalls
  • Outstanding financial tasks (like switching to a bank account with no hidden fees)
  • Access to documents and accounts

Still stuck? Shekar recommends simply sitting down and examining your income and expenses as a team. By doing that, she says you’ll naturally notice things that warrant further discussion. 

3. Make it fun 

When it comes time for your money date, make it feel like, well, a date. 

Whether that means ordering a pizza and opening a bottle of wine, or going out for coffee and donuts, incorporate an element of fun so it doesn’t feel like such a chore. 

As Shekar notes, “Our last money date was right before a couples massage — let’s just say, we’re definitely doing that again.”

4. Be honest and kind

A money date is an opportunity to create an open, judgment-free zone where you and your partner can discuss your financial highs, lows, and goals. So do your best to avoid being critical or inflammatory. 

“Watch how you present things and how you speak to your partner,” Maddox says.

“Don’t start making accusations or putting them down, because odds are they will get defensive. Focus on working together if a financial issue needs to be solved — not against each other.”

Building a future — together

For both Maddox and Shekar, money dates have been integral to their relationships. 

“I like money dates,” Maddox says, “because we can talk — just the two of us — and dream about our future and how money will be the tool that helps us live more fulfilling lives.”

Shekar agrees. Before she and her husband started scheduling money dates, they often discussed money “when tensions were running high.” (Sound familiar?) 

“Setting time aside to have money convos made us smarter about when and how we talked about our shared expenses,” she says. 

“Once we mastered the day-to-day operations of our household, we found ourselves dreaming about the future more. That helped us move from having fewer ‘burning’ conversations to more ‘dreaming’ discussions.” 

“It’s incredibly gratifying to feel like we’re on the same page about where our lives are headed and how we’re preparing for that financially,” says Shekar.

 

Financial Lessons You Can Learn from 3 Romantic Comedy Movies

By Chonce Maddox

Seen any good romantic comedy movies lately? 

Rom-com movies are known for their hilarious scenes and sometimes corny attributes. But did you know that some romantic comedies allow you to walk away with a lesson or a conversation topic that can be explored further?

Yes, movies can teach us something. And, when it comes to your finances, sometimes the best way to grasp a particular concept is by seeing it play out in action.

Take a look at how these rom-coms can teach you financial lessons.

1. Crazy Rich Asians

 

Crazy Rich Asians hit theaters in 2018 after the popular book series. The plot follows the main character Rachel (played by Constance Wu), who travels to Singapore to meet the family of her ‘crazy rich’ boyfriend Nick (played by Henry Golding).

Rachel is a professor of economics living a pretty average life. She has no idea that her boyfriend’s family is rich as he does a good job of not flaunting his wealth around her. 

Her first taste of what’s to come occurs when they board the plane to Singapore and head to their private suite…on the plane. Nick soon tells Rachel that he is heir to a massive fortune due to the success of his family’s business in Asia. 

Here are just a few financial takeaways from the movie:

  • Wealth is often glamorized – Many people have an idea in their head of what wealth looks like and this movie definitely delivers on these fantasies. However, it’s important to note that not all wealthy people flaunt their riches. And, while you may not be able to buy six-figure jewelry on a whim, there are some basic steps to take in order to build wealth and live comfortably.
  • Money is not everything – I love the scene in the movie where they visit Nick’s grandmother and the family makes homemade dumplings from scratch. While money is important, it can’t replace those intimate and priceless family moments. 
  • You shouldn’t judge people based on financial assumptions – I’m not a big fan of making judgments or assumptions about how others spend their money and amass wealth. In Crazy Rich Asians, we see this happen in a flashback when Nick’s mom visits a hotel in London and can’t get the staff to treat her with respect. As it turns out, she owns the hotel and once the manager reveals this, the employees are embarrassed. 
  • Leave a legacy – Nick’s family had money but they worked hard for it and his parents made sure they could leave a sizable inheritance for their kids. This is inspiring and shows that hard work and determination pays off.

2. Girl’s Trip

 

Girl’s Trip is a 2017 comedy film that follows four friends as they meet up in New Orleans for the Essence Festival after falling out of touch for years. The ‘Flosse Posse’ (as they called themselves in college) go on adventures while romance and a breakup ensues.  

For example, while the movie is centered around friendship, a major breakup shakes up the plot while a new romance with an old friend steals the hearts of many viewers.

Here are a few financial takeaways from the movie:

  • Money can’t buy love – We all know this, but it’s nice to see it play out on the big screen. It’s clear that the main character Ryan (played by Regina Hall) is successful and pushes her brand – claiming women can have it all. However, her marriage is a sham. She treats marriage like a business deal and it backfires big time. Ryan’s old friend Julian (played by Larenz Tate) isn’t rich and doesn’t have a successful business, but their connection is still strong and refreshing to see. While watching the movie, fans silently hope that Ryan will realize that money doesn’t equate to a happy marriage. It certainly can’t buy the connection that she and Julian have.
  • Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses – Sasha (played by Queen Latifa) is the friend in this movie who is having the most financial troubles. She runs a gossip blog and relies on insider details for trending stories to pay the bills. Needless to say, it isn’t going too well. Her home is littered with past due notices and she’s in danger of losing her home. Despite this, she hides her financial struggles from her friends. She continues to spend money and buy clothes, keeping the tags on so she can return them later. The takeaway: While there can be shame surrounding financial problems and debt, keeping up with others is never a good idea. Instead, find a solid support system as you work to improve your money situation.

3. Confessions of a Shopaholic

 

Confessions of a Shopaholic is a 2009 romantic comedy with an interesting personal finance twist. The main character, Rebecca (played by Isla Fisher), works at a savings magazine and ends up falling for a journalist there. The most ironic aspect of the storyline is that she landed her job after hitting rock bottom and maxing out 12 credit cards. 

While she writes a column with great savings tips, her financial situation at home is a mess. Rebecca finds herself at an all-time financial low as she is unable to control her spending. She is even being chased down by an aggressive debt collector. If only she could follow her own financial advice, right? 

This lighthearted romantic comedy is packed with plenty of relatable money lessons.

Here are a few financial takeaways from this movie:

  • Overspending consistently can have a negative effect on your life – While money doesn’t always make you happy, it can make you feel stable and secure. In the movie, Rebecca consistently spent money she didn’t have. An important tip learned here: To avoid added financial stress, make sure you stick to a realistic budget and prioritize saving money each month. One of the easiest ways to save is to set up an automatic transfer to occur as soon as you get paid each month. 
  • Learning how to save and invest doesn’t have to be complicated – There’s a great scene in the movie where Rebecca describes investing by relating it to how women purchase different pairs of shoes. I like how she simplified the role of investing and saving money by making the topic more relatable. The takeaway: Some financial topics may seem challenging to grasp on the surface, but it’s all about breaking things down. After all, personal finance is personal.
  • You can dig yourself out of debt – Without spoiling too much of the movie, it’s always inspirational to see someone work themselves out of debt. When Rebecca gets herself into thousands of dollars of credit card debt, she feels hopeless and regrets her decisions. So it’s good to remember that getting out of debt takes hard work and a solid budget. At the end of the day, the fact that you can work your way out of debt makes a savings plan worth it.

Lessons Learned from Romantic Comedies

As you can see, there are financial lessons to be learned from romantic comedy movies.

So, next time you’re relaxing and watching a funny movie, try to see if you can find some of the financial topics that come up. This can teach you some important money lessons, and make for great conversations as well! 

 

14 Budget-Friendly Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

By Quinisha Jackson

Valentine’s Day is almost here. And, for many of us, showing love on this day often means spending cash. 

A 2019 survey by the National Retail Federation found that consumers planned to spend an average of $161.96 on Valentine’s Day gifts for their significant others, children, friends, and co-workers. 

 If you’d rather save your money this year, you can still celebrate Valentine’s Day on the cheap. 

Take a look at 14 budget-friendly ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day, whether you’re in a relationship or single.

If You’re Celebrating Solo

via GIPHY

  1. Cook yourself a fancy meal 🥘

 The single life has many perks, and the chance to enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal on your own is one of them. If there’s a special recipe you’ve wanted to make but haven’t gotten around to it, now’s your chance. Be sure to use your fanciest dinnerware for the occasion, along with a glass of wine or your beverage of choice.

 

  1. Write yourself a love letter 💌

 How often do you take the time to write down all of the things you love about yourself? There’s no better time than the national day of love to write a letter and tell yourself just how amazing you are. Remember, this is for your eyes only so don’t be afraid to pour on the compliments.

 

  1. Spa day at home 💆‍♀️💆‍♂️

 Rather than splurge at an expensive spa, give yourself the royal treatment at home. Light your favorite scented candles, turn on relaxing music, and make yourself a warm bubble bath. After your bath, wrap yourself in a cozy robe and lounge in bed for as long as you please.

 

  1. Celebrate with other singles 🎉

 If you prefer to enjoy the company of others on Valentine’s Day, make plans with your single friends to celebrate. Host a dinner party or movie night at your house, and ask each person to bring a dish or drinks. Enjoy good conversation, laughs, and don’t forget to make a toast to the single life.

 

  1. Volunteer at a local charity 🥰

 Take this day to show love to your favorite cause. Whether it’s an animal rescue shelter or visiting residents at a nursing home, you’ll be sure to brighten someone’s day just by giving a few hours of your time. 

 

  1. Explore a new part of town 🏙

 No matter how long you’ve been living in your city, there’s almost always new territory to discover. Channel your inner tourist and find a new coffee shop or restaurant to check out and mingle with other locals. 

 

  1. Do something thoughtful for friends or family 👫👭

 Valentine’s Day isn’t only about romantic love. It can also be an opportunity to make a kind gesture to your close friends or family members. So, send a thoughtful card or flowers to your parents or treat your best friend out to a movie. They’ll likely be flattered to know you are thinking of them. 

  

If You’re Celebrating with a Partner

via GIPHY

  1. Plan a romantic picnic 🌲

 What’s more romantic than a cozy picnic for two? Weather permitting, pack a few tasty snacks, your favorite bottle of wine, and head to the nearest park or beach for some quality time. It’s the perfect time to enjoy nature, good food, and each other’s company.

 

  1. Scavenger hunt 🕵️‍♀️🕵️‍♂️

This one might take a little time and clever thinking, but it will be a lot of fun once everything is put together. To plan a scavenger hunt, create Valentine’s Day themed riddles that your honey has to figure out to find the next clue. Make sure there’s an exciting prize at the end (like a kiss!) to reward them for their hard work. 

 

  1. Photo shoot 📸

 Take some silly or romantic selfies with your partner to keep as memories of the special day. You can pick a theme or dress up to make the photo shoot even more entertaining. Make one of the new photos your phone or laptop screensaver, and it will put an instant smile on your face when you think about the good times you had. 

 

  1. Cook a special dish together 👩‍🍳👨‍🍳

 Life gets busy, so you probably don’t get the chance to make meals alongside your loved one very often. So, pick up a few ingredients for your favorite dish and make a night of spending time together in the kitchen. Once dinner’s ready, keep the romantic atmosphere going with soft music and candlelight to enjoy your meal. 

 

  1. Get active 🏃‍♀️🚵‍♀️

While most Valentine’s Day activities consist of quiet dinners and movie nights, switch things up this year and get out and about with your partner. Go hiking, biking, or even take an early morning jog. If you’re feeling super adventurous, sign up for a tango or salsa dancing class and learn some new moves together!

 

  1. Romantic movie night 🍿

After getting active, you’ll probably need some time to wind down and relax. Or maybe you and your partner have zero interest in working out and would rather be couch potatoes, which is totally fine. Grab some popcorn, cuddle up on the sofa, and enjoy a few classic romcoms or tear-jerkers.

 

  1. DIY gifts 🎁

Nothing says “I love you” like a homemade gift from the heart. Even if you’re not an expert at making crafts, your partner will be touched by the effort you put in. Whether you make your own Valentine’s Day candy, jewelry, or a personalized pillow, the personal touch of a DIY gift has a little more meaning than something picked up from the store. 

You can show love without overspending 

These are just a few cheap Valentine’s Day ideas to help you show love to that special someone – or yourself – without breaking the bank. 

Here’s one more idea for you: If you want to pull out all the stops for this special day, set up automatic transfers to your savings account ahead of time. This way, you’ll have the money you need for your perfect Valentine’s Day celebration without the stress of draining your savings or racking up credit card debt. 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

14 Budget-Friendly Valentine’s Day Date Ideas That Don’t Suck

By Kim Galeta

For the first few years of our relationship, my husband and I never thought twice about going out for a five-star meal on Valentine’s Day. It was just the thing to do. After all, the average American spends more than $140 on this holiday.

Yet, here was the problem: We couldn’t afford those dinners, especially with piling up credit card charges, burdensome student loans payments and hefty car notes. So, we started celebrating Valentine’s Day on a budget and we actually enjoyed ourselves just as much (if not more) because we had to get creative.

Although we have now paid off our consumer debt, we decided to keep up our thrifty Valentine’s Day tradition. This way we can focus on our other money goals for this year and beyond.

If you’re also looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day on a budget, check out these 14 date ideas that won’t make you look like a cheapskate:

For the Romantics At Heart

Cook together.
This is a popular at-home date night recommendation but it can be stressful if you wait until the last minute to figure out your menu. Instead, consider testing out a meal delivery service or check out Instacart, which I find to be a huge time (and therefore money saver).

At-home spa night.
While you may not have the hands of a massage therapist, you can easily recreate a calming, spa-like atmosphere right in your own home. Budget-friendly tip: Shop your hall closet for candles, aromatherapy oils and other at-home spa essentials. In the end, you may only need to spend money on rose petals to turn this idea into the most romantic Valentine’s Day ever.

Create a scavenger hunt.
It’s time to put your Pinterest skills to good use with this Valentine’s Day activity. Showcase your thoughtfulness by including riddles that incorporate memories from milestone events like your first date. Your grand finale (final clue) doesn’t have to be expensive either. It can be home cooked dinner by the fireplace, picture of the two of you or a picnic lunch.

Bury a time capsule.
Fill a box with keepsakes that represent both you and your SO, write a sweet note to your future selves and bury it. Hint: You can repurpose almost anything such as a shoebox for your time capsule instead of going out and buying something new.

Scrapbook together.

Pour a glass of wine and get ready to enjoy a trip down memory lane with your person. I also love that this sweet date night idea can double as a great way to get rid of clutter and turn it into cash (not very romantic, I know, but it is a tip worth sharing).

Treat your SO to breakfast in bed.

When was the last time you made your partner breakfast in bed? Or maybe a better question is: Have you ever made your partner breakfast? Be sure to include a sweet handwritten note when you surprise your SO with this thoughtful gesture!

At-home movie night with a twist.
Borrow a projector or even use a large television screen to create a romantic outdoor or indoor movie theater experience without breaking the bank.

For the Outdoorsy Couple

Cozy bonfire date.

My husband recently spent five dollars on a fire pit at a garage sale and we can’t wait to test it out on Valentine’s Day. I already have the marshmallows and hot cocoa mix added to our grocery list!

Sledding.

If you want to have some real fun on Valentine’s Day then add this winter activity to your to-do list. Cuddle up with a warm beverage once you’re finished acting like a big kid with your favorite human.

Winter hike.

Yes, this is a thing! Just be sure to check out these safety tips before embarking on your adventure.

For the Couple Who Doesn’t Like At-Home Date Nights

Dessert-only date.

Fill up on dinner at home and save the spending for a delicious sweet treat. Scout out a nice ice cream parlor or a quaint bakery in a cute nearby town. End the night with a romantic walk.

Trivia night.

If you and your partner are competitive then this could be the perfect date night that costs less than $25. Plus, you may even win some money when all is said and done!

Choose lunch over dinner.
Eating lunch out is less expensive than dinner. Plain and simple. For instance, Money Crashers notes that at the Cheesecake Factory, “Dinner entrees range in price from $11 to $30 [while] lunch specials cost between $9 and $14.” If you skip dessert and take it easy on the beverages, you won’t have to spend more than $50.

For the Couple Who Thinks Outside of the Box

Don’t celebrate at all.

If your main reason for celebrating Valentine’s Day is that everyone else is, then it may be time to reconsider your approach. I spoke with one couple who doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day at all.

Ellie from EllieMondelli.com says, “It’s very simple for us — we view this holiday as yet another excuse to spend money. It doesn’t fit in with any of our goals, so we don’t celebrate it.”

This type of discipline has enabled the Mondelli’s to pay off their mortgage before she turned 30!

 

How To Budget for Valentine’s Day

By Rachel Slifka

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Regardless of whether you spend it with your long-time love, a new acquaintance or close friends, Valentine’s Day is a holiday designed to celebrate love.

Unfortunately, this holiday comes at a high price. According to the National Retail Federation, the average American consumer spent $143.56 on Valentine’s Day celebrations last year alone. That’s a whole lot of dough.

Yet, you don’t have to spend a ton of cash to enjoy Valentine’s Day. With some wise planning, budgeting, and saving in advance, you can make this Valentine’s Day one for the books – without breaking the bank. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Set your budget

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make Valentine’s Day fun and special, but then again, it is only one day out of the year. It’s not worth going broke over.

So, determine what your budget will be, and stick to it. To figure out your budget, it’s best to plan according to the stage of your relationship. For example, if you have a significant other, you may want to do something special that may require saving money ahead of time. And, if you’re in the early stages of a relationship, there is no need to go all out for the big holiday. A  simple, quiet get-together is probably fine.

Plan your activities

Now it’s time to plan your realistic celebrations. Whether you dream about going to a fancy, romantic restaurant, cooking at home, or something else, you may need to plan for your activities.

Check out these 10 fun Valentine’s Day activities for both kids and couples by Money Crashers. They are proof that you don’t have to spend a ton in order to express your love.

Don’t forget about additional costs

Now that you have your Valentine’s Day celebration planned, the bulk of the work is finished. But don’t forget – there are often quite a few last minute costs associated with Valentine’s Day. Don’t forget to budget for them!

Whether you want to pick up some chocolates, flowers, or even just a card, these all cost money. If you plan to purchase any additional gifts, be sure to add them into your initial budget.

Tips for an affordable Valentine’s Day

No matter what your budget is, you can make your Valentine’s Day special and memorable without breaking the bank. Take a look:

1. Don’t go overboard

Valentine’s Day can be special without going completely overboard. Who says you have to go out to a fancy, expensive dinner or buy lavish gifts?

You can have a memorable Valentine’s Day by thinking outside the box. Go hiking, enjoy a picnic, or go to a museum for a day date. Think about ways to save money, avoid crowds and create a day you and your significant other will remember for years to come.

2. Celebrate after the holiday

Valentine’s Day gets busy quickly. Restaurants get full, floral shops are overrun, and even the chocolate is overpriced. So why not make it a point to celebrate after the fact, when you can both get more bang for your buck?

Not only will you have more options available after the holiday, but you will fight fewer crowds. So, see if your significant other is on board for staying in on February 14, but willing to celebrate over the next weekend. This gives you more wiggle room in your budget, plus you can avoid the Valentine’s Day rush.

3. Get creative with gifts

Who says you have to gift a dozen roses and a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day? Walk into any store or flower shop and you can see how much these traditional Valentine’s Day gifts cost.

Instead of buying the typical Valentine’s Day gifts, try getting creative. For instance, instead of buying chocolate and flowers, buy tickets to a movie – maybe even a matinee.

To lower the cost even more, you can make your own DIY gifts.

4. Enjoy quality time together

Some of the best times are spent staying in with your loved ones.

Instead of going out for a pricey date night, cook a homemade meal together and stream a movie or play a game. You can’t get much cheaper than that!

5. Go outdoors

We get it: February isn’t the nicest month weather-wise. But if it is semi-decent outside, you can take your holiday celebrations outdoors.

Check out some of these romantic and adventurous date ideas from Two Drifters. Not only are they memorable date ideas, but most of them can be done for dirt cheap.

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day by saving in advance

No matter how you decide to spend your Valentine’s Day, you can always be prepared by saving in advance. The easiest way to start saving for Valentine’s Day is to set a little bit aside at a time into a separate savings account. So go on and enjoy your holiday guilt-free!

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